GW Capstone Project Spotlight (1)

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GW Capstone Project Spotlight: Freedom, Representation, and the Future (1) Moderator, Randy Townsend

Book Challenges and Bans in the United States, Haley Baker Why AI Cannot Be an Author, Tara Jacobi Banned but not Forgotten, Jay Soglo Visual Representations Of Underrepresented Groups on YA Book Covers, Violet Lane-Ruckman

The Capstone Project is the cornerstone of the Ethics in Publishing class, designed to encourage the exploration of an issue that connects student’s professional passion with industry topics. These projects often take students on a journey that challenges their individual moral compass, expands their understanding of related topics, and allows them to navigate ethical deliberations. This panel will feature George Washington University students as they share highlights of their Capstone Projects and discuss other important publishing ethics topics.

Book Challenges and Bans in the United States, Haley Baker This case study focuses on the current state of book challenges and bans in the United States. It takes a look at several issues and how those issues are impacting the nation, in particular, children. I also profile a few organizations that are attempting to fight this tide of censorship in different ways and I explore the possibility of a national digital lending library.

Why AI Cannot Be an Author, Tara Jacobi Why AI cannot be an author of literature has a three-part focus. First, the definition of the author is explored and how an author is defined legally. Second, I take a look at how AI can produce literature and how authors are using AI today. Finally, I note what makes for great literature and why humans will likely be the better storytellers.

Banned but not Forgotten, Jay Soglo This presentation applies utilitarian ethics to contend that the recent spike of book bans in America creates more harm than good, and advocates for publishers, educators, and citizens to unite against censorship threatening intellectual freedom. Utilitarian reasoning exposes how bans predominantly damage marginalized groups while any benefits are uncertain, necessitating immediate opposition.

Visual Representations Of Underrepresented Groups on YA Book Covers, Violet Lane-Ruckman This project examines representations of diversity in the peritext of YA fiction. First we follow up on jennykhsdhflis' study, focusing on individuals on YA covers in 2014 and 2018, by adding a data set for 2022. Additionally, I look at what other factors signal specific representation to readers, and which broad aspects of diversity continue to be underrepresented.

Haley Baker graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is currently studying for a Master of Professional Studies in Publishing at George Washington University, Cohort 18, and will graduate in May 2025. She has spent several years in customer service, administrative, accounting, and Human Resources roles in a variety of fields. She will be finishing her first year of the Masters of Publishing this fall and is currently working with the GW Journal of Ethics on the Strategy and Sustainability committee. She is a voracious reader and loves to share her book opinions with anyone who will listen. She currently hosts an Instagram book review account, Over the next few years, Haley is looking forward to applying her education and various experiences to a publishing career.

Tara Jacobi is the editor of San Luis Obispo County Bar Association’s law journal and second-year graduate student of the masters in publishing program at The George Washington University. She is also a graduate of Pace University School of Law with a certificate in international law from the University College London. She practiced law in the private sector before transitioning to non-profit and government work.

Violet Lane-Ruckman is a proud member of cohort 17.5, finishing up her last semester in the GW Masters of Publishing. Currently, she is living in DC and working costumes and wardrobe for regional theaters until she breaks into publishing.

Jay Soglo is a Production Controller at Johns Hopkins University Press and a MPS in Publishing student at GWU (17th cohort, graduating Fall ’23). He is still early on in his Publishing career after changing careers from sponsored projects administration. Passionate about the future of digital publishing, he is currently curious about accessibility and about the impacts of generative AI on the publishing industry.

Randy Townsend, MPS, (he, him, his) is President of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) and has served in leadership positions for the Council of Science Editors, and AM&P Network’s Association Council, and has co-chaired DEIA Committees for AM&P Network and SSP. He has actively supported C4DISC and contributed to the development of many of their freely available resources. At Origin Editorial, Randy takes innovative approaches to lead and implement peer review strategies. Randy was the inaugural Editor in Chief for the GW Journal of Ethics in Publishing and is an Associate Professor of the MPS in Publishing program in the College of Professional Studies at George Washington University.