Faculty Snapshot: Gita Johar, PhD
Tell us about your work.
I am teaching a course that brings together Engineering and Business School students to work on a company's design challenge. Students question their abilities to be creative, but in the end all teams come up with amazing ideas that fulfill customer needs, and could become viable and feasible business ideas. By following a structured process, students realize that creativity is not innate, but can be learned. In terms of research, I've been working on projects related to understanding why people share news online and what types of interventions can help reduce the sharing of fake news and encourage fact checking.
Tell us about a book that you have read and would recommend.
I've been turning to fiction to reduce the stresses of life in the pandemic. The last book I read was "The Lives of Others" by Neel Mukherjee and I would highly recommend it. It takes a little bit of flipping back to the family tree to get into the story, but I think that initial investment is well worth it! The language is exquisite and the story, in part a family saga and in part a political statement, is set in Calcutta (where I went to graduate school) and in rural West Bengal.
The book highlights the blight of inequality and the dismal state of life for indentured laborers in rural India in the 1960's. This is what gave rise to the communist Naxalite movement and I learned a lot about the ideology, as well as the idealism that fuels it. The story weaves many disparate threads together and it made me think about the ripple effects of many small decisions that we make. The book lays bare the gulf between the "haves" and the "have-not's" and shows how ideals give way to pragmatism when pushed to the corner. If you are looking for a thought-provoking book, I'd recommend it.
What's in your Netflix queue?
I've been working on improving my (currently stuck in intermediate level) French for the past year, so I'm watching French movies and shows. Episodes of "Serial," "The Bureau" and "Meurtres en ..." are what you'll find in my queue, along with movies by Claire Denis, Francoise Ozon and Olivier Asayas.
If you would like to know more about Dr. Johar, please visit her faculty profile or email her directly.