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The Institute For Writing and Thinking at Bard College Hosts Conference on Plagiarism in the Digital Age, April 17

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Friday, April 17, The Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College will host a one-day conference on plagiarism in the digital age. “Beyond Blame: Authority, Creativity, and Plagiarism in the Digital Age” addresses the controversial topic of Internet plagiarism from a fresh perspective. “The academic debate on digital plagiarism has tended to lay blame on the student and the student’s relationship with the Internet,” says Teresa Vilardi, the Institute’s director. “College teachers especially are concerned about the paper mills producing plagiarized work that is difficult to catch. But as educators our attention should be on what we can do as teachers, how some assignments invite plagiarism, how important it is to keep students engaged in the texts they read and the subjects under discussion through imaginative writing assignments.”

Rather than trying to find new ways to police the problem, the Institute invites teachers to think more creatively about plagiarism and move towards a better understanding of the 21st century’s shifting definitions of creativity, originality, and authorship. The conference considers how questions surrounding ownership and writing present teachers with opportunities to create better assignments and provide occasions for productive conversations with students and colleagues.

The conference begins with a small group workshop focusing on plagiarism and the Internet, cultural differences in understanding and defining plagiarism, and new understanding of creativity. In the two workshops following a plenary session, participants write to articulate ideas and visions for a framework that might guide students to be owners of their own writing. The goal of this work is to help teachers create new assignments connected to the texts, documents, and discussions used in class that discourage plagiarism because they are topic-focused.

Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, will introduce a plenary panel discussion inviting deeper reflection on the ethical, intellectual, and rhetorical dimensions of plagiarism. Other panelists include Ray Peterson, principal and English teacher at the Bard High School Early College in New York City; Jane Cadwell, dean of academic affairs and English teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire; Margaret (“Ranny”) Bledsoe, mathematician and principal of Charlestown High School in Boston; and Thomas Bartscherer, assistant professor of humanities at Bard College and associate director of the Bard Workshop in Language and Thinking. The panel will consider a range of questions including: What do we consider plagiarism and why does it matter? What approaches to thinking about it have resulted in positive outcomes for students, teachers, and schools? How are notions of authority and authorship changing in the digital age?

The plenary session runs from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Olin Auditorium and is free and open to the public. Registration is required to participate in the small group workshops. The fee for conference registration is $135. For further information or to request a conference flyer, contact Judi Smith at 845-758-7484 or

Beyond Blame: Authority, Creativity, and Plagiarism in the Digital Age
Friday, April 17, 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

8:15–9:00 a.m.        
Registration and coffee

9:00–9:15 a.m.        
Welcome and introduction

9:30–10:45 a.m.    
Session 1        

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.    
Keynote and panel presentation followed by Q & A discussion

1:00–2:15 p.m.        

2:15–3:45 p.m.        
Session 2

3:45–4:00 p.m.        

4:00–5:30 p.m.        
Session 3

5:30–6:30 p.m.        
Refreshments and farewell


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This event was last updated on 03-26-2009