George Corser’s educational background is in the modern sciences. His aspirations in academia, however, call back to ancient Greece.
The assistant professor of computer science & information systems knows well the role of technology in learning. Yet his academic ambitions are inspired by the great Greek thinkers who regularly engaged in forums of intellectual debate.
“In current times, universities are the center of intellectual activity,” Corser said. “They can provide the kinds of forums ancient Greece had. You can learn information online, but do you really think Plato, Aristotle and Socrates would have been as effective if they hadn’t met?”
Providing a 21st century intellectual forum is at the heart of Corser’s work at SVSU. His efforts extend beyond the classroom. They also involve the community.
In August, Corser was responsible for bringing a world-renowned speaker series to the campus when SVSU hosted a TED Talks event. The TED Talks series began in 1984 as a conference where “Technology, Entertainment and Design” converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.
SVSU’s TED Talks featured technology showcases and speakers discussing topics ranging from fatherhood to smartphone security. While Corser spearheaded the idea, he called on students to organize much of the one-day event.
Corser’s desire to get students engaged in learning also extends to his research interest: vehicle network privacy, which focuses on network routers installed in vehicles. The technology has obvious practical applications, but using computers to track vehicles raises privacy concerns.
“We want to learn about the boundaries,” he said. “How do you know some system administrator isn’t using this for nefarious purposes? How do we protect ourselves?”
Corser was hired at the university in 2014, but he has been familiar with the institution for years. His father — who shares his name — was an SVSU mechanical engineering professor before retiring two decades ago.
The younger Corser didn’t join SVSU to follow in his father’s footsteps, however. The university’s relaxed and open work environment appealed to him.
“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt about the decision [to teach at SVSU], and I still don’t,” he said.