Martin and Angie along the river in Prato, Italy
Martin and Angie along the river in Prato, Italy

I am many different things, depending on the hour of the day, but am also always one thing … me!  I am passionate about the outdoors, spending as much time as I can “away from civilization”.  I also love introducing people to the outdoors and the importance of our being connected to it on a regular basis.  I am passionate about using the riches I’ve been gifted to help others.  But I don’t necessarily like the word service, particularly when it comes from a mental model of helping those who are in some way less than we are.  Instead, I continue to grow in my understanding that all of us have unique blind spots and disparately need diversity in our lives to bring together teams that can expose the broader picture of what is really going on.  I have a talent for technology and often act as a toolsmith tinker to help build prototypes and innovation-in-use design platforms using technology to enable communities to meet their valued beings and doings.  And I am a man of faith who is always trying to find ways to meet the real Jesus and not just the one we’ve built upon a western European image.

My Background

After my birth in Michigan early in 1964, I wandered aimlessly through my elementary and junior high schools. I did manage to win a few science awards in 7th and 8th grade. The budding hacker in me also emerged about that time, as my junior high had a teletype connected to a mainframe. I was even invited by Whirlpool to exhibit a swell basic program I wrote which converted measurements into board feet. A relatively uneventful tenure at Benton Harbor High School (’82 grad) was followed by an even more uneventful stay at Lake Michigan Junior College, mostly in their music department.

To prevent being enlisted into the work force, I then went on to earn a B.A. in Psychology at Anderson University.  At the encouragement of my most excellent undergraduate advisor, Dr. Curt Leech, I opted for another 6 years of study, gaining both a M.S. and Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience and Biopsychology at Rutgers University, studying under the expert tutelage of Dr. Mark West. The last stop in my whirlwind tour of research academia took me to the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Gabriel as part of the Beckman’s Neuronal Pattern Analysis group.

In 1995 I moved on to become Manager of Systems Services for Prairienet, the Community Information Network for Central Illinois. Being the oldest of three, I grew up showing others how much I knew and how much they needed to learn.  So I guess it was natural that I began teaching courses at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, now the School of Information Sciences or iSchool.  And in keeping with my research background, I also managed the computer systems for the Information Systems Research Lab at GSLIS. I was also director of Prairienet for a year, but decided enough was enough and stepped back to focus on systems work and teaching.  When IT support within GSLIS was merged, I became the User Services Coordinator for the Office of IT and Research at GSLIS.

In 2008 when IT staff was again reorganized, I left the IT support group in GSLIS and returned to my research roots as a Senior Research Scientist within the Community Informatics Initiative.  In 2012, CII became the Center for Digital Inclusion, under the direction of colleague Dr. Jon Gant. The Center completed its successful run in 2018. That year, I also shifted from an Academic Professional with the iSchool to become a Teaching Assistant Professor.

My research interests include community informatics, community engagement, critical and culturally sustaining pedagogies for the information sciences, mutual shaping of social + technical information systems, social learning spaces for design thinking and rapid prototyping.  I also am deeply interested in the Scholarship of Engagement, finding new ways to integrate research, teaching, and service by building Community of Inquiry teams comprised of students, researchers, and community members.  I was extremely honored to have been recognized as the Library Journal Magazine 2011 Teacher of the Year, and award for which I was nominated by my students.

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife Angie for 34 most excellent years now. I have two well groomed children, Eric and Joey, their delightful partners, and our playful group of hounds. I enjoy woodworking and have built some of the pretty nice furniture we have in our house.

Deciding that wasn’t enough insanity, my wife and I are slowly becoming urban farmers. We have chickens and bees and fruit trees & shrubs and raised vegetable beds and pollinator plants and a community free-pick corner to boot.

More about all these adventures can be found on my blog https://martin.wolske.site.

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