Prof. Aaron M. McKain, Ph.D., M.S.L.
Director & Associate Professor
School of English, Communications, and Digital Media @North Central University
Executive Director, Institute for Digital Humanity
Creative Director, Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy
Publications: Peer-Reviewed & Public
Public Advocacy: Art and Community Education
Conference Presentations, Invited Talks, & Competitive Workshops
Selected Awards, Grants, and Professional Service
June 2012 Ohio State University
Ph.D., English (Rhetoric and Narrative Theory)
“Fear and Loathing in the New Media Era :
How to Realign our Rhetorical Judgments for the Post-Postmodern, Digital Media Age”
June 2012 Ohio State University
Master’s in the Study of Law (M.S.L.)
June 2004 Ohio State University
M.A., English (Critical Theory: Law and Politics)
Dec. 1998 University of Nebraska
B.A., Political Science
Graduated with distinction, Phi Beta Kappa
Director, School of English, Digital Media, and Communication Arts
Associate Professor of Digital Media, North Central University, 2018-present
Designing and teachings classes in rhetoric, professional communication, public relations, critical digital media studies, digital production, and law.Responsible for student advising, department and university administration, assessment, hiring, curricular coordination, budgets for three departments, development and production of online degree program, and research agenda.
Executive Director, Institute for Digital Humanity, 2018-present
Coordinating advocacy, research, curricula, legislation, and grant funding on digital ethics issues with local and national partners including ACLU MN, Civic Nebraska, the Anti-Defamation League, Indiana University, Creighton University, and Netflix’s team.'
Creative Director, Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy, 2017-present
Coordinating and curating local, national, international, and academic art installations and juried exhibitions on digital ethics, public health, and racial justice.
Leading multi-disciplinary teams of volunteer artists, academics, and activists to leverage public installations for community education and advocacy
Visiting Scholar, OSTROM Workshop, Indiana University, 2019-present
Research and consultation on digital ethics curricula and public advocacy.
Curricular Consultant and Designer, Anti-Defamation League, 2019-2021
Leading teams of students, lawyers, and teachers to develop national high school curriculum on algorithmic ethics, law, and civics.
Assistant Professor, Division of Professional Rhetoric and Digital Media Arts, Hamline University, 2011-2017
Designed interdisciplinary program and curriculum (and taught classes in) rhetorical theory, professional communication, literary and cultural theory, critical digital media studies, law, professional writing, and media art.
Responsible for student advising, departmental and university service, and maintaining research agenda.
Speechwriter/Communications Specialist, Office of the President, Ohio State University, 2007–2009
Helped set and shape communications agenda for E. Gordon Gee, President of Ohio State University.Coordinated messaging strategy with senior administrative and PR staff to connect with Ohio State’s four core constituents: students, faculty, government officials (city, state, federal), and Ohio taxpayers.
Responsible for speeches, talking points, op-eds, and articles in multiple mediums (tv, radio, social-networking) and for live audiences ranging from 8 to 80,000.
Developed three key message areas: (1) the economic impact of Ohio State on the state of Ohio; (2) the power and potential of humanities research; and (3) the importance of expanding educational access to under-represented students.
Author and Education Technology Consultant, McGraw-Hill, 2008-2011
Created and piloted a textbook, software, and pedagogy () to teach rhetorical analysis and production via an inter-university, peer-review network.To date, adopted by over 350 classrooms, and 15,000 students, across four universities.
First Year Writing Program Administrator, Ohio State University, 2007
Consultant, Digital Media Project, Ohio State, University 2007
Trained, mentored, and supervised 50 new teachers.Designed, implemented, and assessed curriculum for over 3,500 students.Integrated and coordinated digital media production technology for rhetoric and composition classrooms
Assistant Editor, Narrative: Journal of the Int. Society for Narrative Studies, 2004-2005
Responsible for reviewing, proofing, and copyediting journal submissions. Also helped coordinate 2005 NEH Summer Seminar in Narrative Theory.
Project Director, Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest, 1999-2001
Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace Political Action Committee, 1998
Worked with Nebraska Legal Services, Neb. Bar Association, and non-profits to promote statewide partnerships in technology and poverty law advocacy.
Managed and marshalled PAC resources on behalf of gubernatorial candidate; served as member of political campaign staff; mobilized voters on tax issues.
Publications: Peer-Reviewed and Public
“A Primer on Digital and Data Science Ethics.” With Thomas Freeman and Samson Hall. Nebraska Lawyer. September/October 2022.
"The Roberts Court and Compulsory Collective Bargaining: Reading the Tea Leaves AfterJanus and Masterpiece." With Thomas Freeman.
Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy. Forthcoming in 2022.
“Criminal Conviction By Algorithms are Ruining Innocent Lives.” With Thomas Freemanand Elizabeth Otto. Omaha World Herald.
August 29, 2021.
“The Legal Implications of Algorithmic Decision-Making.” With Thomas Freeman and Samson Hall. Nebraska Lawyer. May/June 2020.
“In Two Voices.” With Amanda Aherns and Stephen Pederson. Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. August 2020.
“Let Them All Eat Cake: Rhetorically Mapping Religious Freedom, LGBTQIA Discrimination, and The First Amendment After Janus and
Masterpiece.” 2020 Proceedings of the Midwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business.
(Winner of the 2020 Best Paper Award.)
“Rhetorically Predicting a First Amendment Right to Negotiation After Janus.” With Thomas Freeman and Destynie Sewell.
11 Wm. & Mary Bus. L.Rev. 609 (2020).
“The Art of EMF Science: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Post-Digital Health Advocacy." With Steven Pederson and the Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy.
PostHuman: New Media Art 2020. CICA Press, 2020.
“As Technology Evolves, So Does the Practice of Law (and So Must Attorneys)." With Thomas Freeman. Nebraska Lawyer Magazine.
“The Future of Collective Bargaining: Rhetorically Predicting a First Amendment Right to Negotiation.” With Thomas Freeman and Destynie
Sewell. 2019 Proceedings of the Midwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business.
“Free Speech in Post-Digital America.” Editor. With The Institute for Digital Humanity and the Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy. Hennepin County
Library. (Permanent Collection.) September 2019.
“I Want to Party With You Cowboy: Stephen Colbert and Campaign 2016’s Aesthetic Logic of Truthiness.” With Thomas Lawson. In Julie
Webber-Collins, Ed. The Joke is On Us: Political Comedy in (Late) Neoliberal Times. Lexington Press, 2019.
“How to Write a Poem that Costs You $175k Plus the Lady,” Missouri Review, Miller Audio Prize for Humor (runner up), Summer 2018.
“Fear and Loathing in the New Media Era : How to Realign our Rhetorical Judgments for the Post-Postmodern, Digital Media Age.”
Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2012. (Released to the public by my University. Actively cited.)
“The Rhetoric of Narrative: What the Law as Narrative Movement Can Teach the Rest of the Narrative Turn.” In Deborah Journet, Ed.
Narrative Acts: Rhetoric, Race and Identity, Knowledge. Hampton Press, 2011.
“Rhetoric.” In Peter Logan, Ed. Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Novel. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
“New Media, New English.” In Cheryl E. Ball and James Kalmbach, Eds. Reading and Writing New Media. With Jason Palmeri, Cormac Slevin, and
Scott Lloyd DeWitt. Hampton Press, 2009.
“Foreward.” With E. Gordon Gee. In The Business of Higher Education: Marketing and Consumer Interests. Eds. John C. Knapp and David J. Siegel.
Commonplace: A User’s Guide to Persuasion (in an Age that Desperately Needs One). With Michael Harker and Scott Lloyd DeWitt. McGraw-Hill,
“Are We the Rockstars We’ve Been Waiting For?” PopMatters. 3 Nov. 2008.
“Huckabee’s Family Guy Values.” Alternet. 21 Jan. 2008.
“Re-Learning How to Argue.” Audio essay. In Cynthia L. Selfe, Ed. Multimodal Composition: Resources for Teachers. Hampton Press, 2007.
“Made Actual Through Pain.” Video essay. With Michael Harker and Cormac Slevin. In Cynthia L. Selfe, Ed. Multimodal Composition: Resources
for Teachers. Hampton Press, 2007.
“A Hypothetical Problem.” PopMatters. 17 Sept. 2006.
“Not Necessarily Not the News: Remediation, Gatekeeping, and The Daily Show.” Journal of American Culture 28.4 (Dec 2005): 415-430.
“Regulating Artificial Intelligence - Is Global Consensus Possible?” With HEC Paris Insights. Forbes.com. September 9, 2022.
“Digital Ethics and the Institute for Digital Humanity.” With Shea Sullivan. Human Lawyer. December 2021. Podcast.
“After Facebook Scandal, Local College Students Are Taking On the Challenge of Big Tech.” Interview. NBC. KARE-11 Evening News.
Minneapolis: 7 November 2021. Television.
“Critical Race Theory?” Interview. With Aaron McKain and Julius Herandez. Our Black News. Minneapolis, MN: June 2021. Podcast.
“What the Floyd Verdict Means for Minneapolis.” Interview. Our Black News. Minneapolis, MN: April 2021. Podcast
“Why Isn’t There Social Media Forgiveness?” Interview. Breaking the News. NBC. KARE-11, Minneapolis: 13 September 2018. Television.
“Remembrance of Things Past Fuels Recent Run of Reboots, Relaunches, Remakes.” Interview with Ross Raihala. Pioneer Press.
21 April 2018. Newspaper.
“How To Protect Your Personal Info on Facebook.” Interview. Breaking the News. NBC. KARE-11, Minneapolis: 21 March 2018. Television.
“Post Emmys Cameo, Spicer Says He Regrets Battles Over Trump’s Inauguration Size.” Interview. Breaking the News. NBC.
KARE-11, Minneapolis: 18 September 2017.Television.
“Breaking Down the Election Speeches.” Live On-Air Interview. KARE-11 Evening News. NBC. KARE-11, Minneapolis: 9 November 2016.
“How do Those Political Speeches Come to Life?” Interview. Breaking the News. NBC. KARE-11, Minneaoplis: 27 July 2016. Television.
“What is Plagiarism?” Interview. Breaking the News. NBC. KARE-11, Minneapolis: 20 July 2016. Television.
Public Advocacy: Art and Community Education:
(Juried, Invited, Curated, and Grant-Funded)
“All Bullets Shatter: Uncounted Stories of Gun Violence and Trauma.” Organizer, Curator, and Host. (International Juried Art Exhibition on Trauma.).
With the Institute forDigital Humanity; Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy; Guns Down, Love Up; Project Minnesota; The Digital Archive of Literacy
Narratives (Ohio State, Portland State, George State); and the Pittsburgh University Prison Writing Project. Minneapolis, MN. May 2022.
“Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy: Curating Change.” With Stephen Pedersen and Allison Baker. Lewis and Clark University. Portland, OR.
“Social Justice Through Artistic Expression.” With Stephen Pedersen and Allison Baker. Creative Impact Series by Tualatin Valley Creates.
Beaverton, OR. September 2021.
“Technology Inclusivity in Online Dispute Resolution.” With Angie Raymond and Isak Nit Asare. American Bar Association Dispute Resolution
Technology Expo. Online. July 2021.
“Digital Rights Are Civil Rights: Race and Technology.” Organizer, Curator, and Host. (Juried International Juried Art Exhibition on Algorithmic Racism.)
With the Institute for Digital Humanity, Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy, ACLU MN, and Native Youth Arts Collective. Minneapolis, MN. February 2021.
“Contaminated.” Organizer, Curator, and Host. (International Juried Art Exhibition on COVID and Mental Health.) With the Institute for Digital Humanity
and Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy. May 2020.
“Infectious Madness.” Solo Museum Exhibition. (Installation on Illness and Caregiving.).With Allision Baker and the Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy.
Gallery 610. Menomonie, WI. April 2020
“Cellular Home Invasion II.” Solo Museum Exhibition. With Allision Baker. Gallery 610. Menomonie, WI. April 2020.
“Medical Unreliability and Sick Girl Theory.” Curated Cross-Cultural Art Exchange. With Allison Baker, the Institute for Digital Humanity, and theInstitute
for Aesthetic Advocacy. St. Cloud Zine Fest. St. Cloud, MN. February 2020.
“Sad Girls and Hopeful Women.” Curated Cross-Cultural Art Exchange. With Allison Baker, the Institute for Digital Humanity, and the Institute for
Aesthetic Advocacy. Twin Cities Zine Fest. Minneapolis, MN. September 2020.
“Cellular Home Invasion.” Solo Museum Exhibition. Czong Institute for ContemporaryArt. Seoul, South Korea. May 2019.
“Internet Security and Cyberbullying Prevention Workshop.” Little Earth Native Community. Minneapolis, MN. April 2019. (Funded by MN Health
and Human Services Grant.)
“Sad Girls and Hopeful Women.” Curated Cross-Cultural Art Exchange. With Allison Baker, the Institute for Digital Humanity, and the Institute for
Aesthetic Advocacy. Hamline University Open Studios. St. Paul, MN. December 2018.
“Feminist Aesthetic Criticism.” With Allison Baker. Video Installation. Bad Video Art Festival. Moscow, Russia. July 2018.
“The Institute for Aesthetic Advocacy.” With Allison Baker. Video Installation. Pop’s Movie Night. Detroit, MI. August 2018.
“Scientific Home Invasion.” With Allison Baker. Installation. Pop’s Packing. Detroit, MI. June 2018.
“Sonance: An Interdisciplinary Discussion Concerning the Affects of Human Noise on Other Animals.” Sound Performance and Art Residency. With
Josh Gumiela and Matt Sumera. University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment. Minneapolis, MN. November 2017.
“How to Write a Poem that Costs You $175k Plus the Lady.” Author and Performer. (Runner Up for 2017 Miller Audio Prize for Humor.). Missouri
Review. Spring 2017.
“World Press Freedom Day: What Do You Have to Say.” Curator and Organizer. (Student Art Installation and Festival on Free Speech.) Hamline
University. Saint Paul, MN. April 2017.
"Y2K16.” Curator and Organizer. (Student Art Installation and Festival on Digital Ethics.) Hamline University. Saint Paul, MN. December 2016.
“dronesTruck: Operation Como.” Curator and Organizer. (International Juried Sound Art Exhibition on Technology Health Effects.) Saint Paul, MN. May
“Love Everlasting,” invited multimedia performance, with Michael Gallope, Jason McGrath, Matt Sumera, and Travis Workman, Italian Film Society of
Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN, February 2016.
“School Violence: An Interdisciplinary Approach.” Curator and Organizer. (Student Art Installation on Gun Violence and Public Health.) Hamline
University. Saint Paul, MN. December 2015.
“dronesTruck: Operation Scarewaves,” Grant-funded multimedia installation, Saint Paul, MN. October 2015.
“Endlessly Repeating Endlessly,” juried multimedia performance, with Michael Gallope, Josh Gumiela, Jason McGrath, Matt Sumera, and Travis
Workman, Northern Lights arts festival, Minneapolis, MN, June 2015.
“dronesTruck,” Juried multimedia installation, with Josh Gumiela, Hamline-Midway Arts Festival, St. Paul, MN, June 2015.
Conference Presentations, Invited Talks, and Competitive Workshops
“Using the Lens of Narrative Theory to Rethink Digital Ethics.” International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference. Boston, MA. October 2022.
[Winner of the Primeaux BestPaper Award: Runner-Up.]
“Privacy 3.0: Using Narrative Theory to Reframe Health Data Sanctity.” Transatlantic Dialogue on Humanity and AI Regulation. Paris, France. May
2022. (Featured in Forbes.)
“Privacy 3.0: Using Narrative Theory to Forgive, Forget, and Re-Program Digital Dignity.” With Thomas Freeman. Big Data and AI Ethics Research
Colloquium. University Park, PA. April 2022.
“Redefining Digital Literacy: Algorithms and You.” With Thomas Freeman, Elizabeth Otto, Ayin Monge, and Moises Morales. SXSW EDU. Austin, TX.
“Algorithmic Unreliability: Narrative Theory, Digital Ethics, and The Constitutionality of Employment AI.” With Thomas Freeman and Marci Exted.
Midwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business. Chicago, IL. March 2022.
“Algorithmic Bias: How Cross Functional Networks Can Fight Digitized Discrimination.” With Thomas Freeman, Elizabeth Otto, Ayin
Monge, and Julius Hernandez. Heider Business Symposium. Creighton University. Omaha, NE. October 2021.
“Privacy 3.0: Forgiveness and Student Data After Mahoney.” With Dr. Aaron McKain, Thomas Freeman, and Simon Troutman. International Vincentian
Business Ethics Conference at DuPaul University. Chicago, IL. October 2021. Online.
“Digital Ethics: What’s Next?” OSTROM Workshop. Indiana University School of Business.Bloomington, IN. February 2021.
“The Art of EMF Science: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Post-Digital Health Advocacy.” With Stephen Pedersen and Allison Baker. Rhetoric of Health And
Medicine Conference. October 2020.
“What Would Jesus Program?” Rhetoric Society of America. Portland, OR. May 2020.
“Cellular Home Invasion: Public Art As Rhetorical Intervention in Scientific Debates On EMF Health Effects.” With Allison Baker and the Institute for
Aesthetic Advocacy. Portland, OR. May 2020.
“Make Them Bake Cake? In the Wake of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Which Religious Activities Are Protected Expression Under the First Amendment
and Protected from Discrimination Laws?” With Tom Freeman and Daniel Schneider. Midwest Business Administrative Association/Midwest
Academy of Legal Studies in Business Joint Conference. Chicago, IL. March 2020.
“Racist Robots: A Visual Primer on Understanding Algorithmic Bias.” With Tom Freeman and Dan Schneider. Midwest Business Administrative
Association/Midwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business Joint Conference. Chicago, IL. March 2020.
“Rhetoric Versus the Robots II: The Ethics of Algorithmic Unreliability.” International Society for the Study of Narrative. New Orleans, LA. March
“The Right to Speak, Bake, or Film…or Not…Which Activities are Protected Expression Under the First Amendment?” With Thomas Freeman. Huber
Hurst Research Seminar in Business Law and Ethics. Gainsville, FL. January 2020.
“Rhetoric Versus the Robots: Mapping the Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Algorithmic Discrimination.” Consortium for the Study of Religion,Ethics
and Society at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Bloomington, IN. November 2019.
“Privacy 3.0: Using Narrative Theory to Navigate Legal, Corporate, and Community Debates on Algorithmic Ethics.” With Thomas Freeman. Law
and Ethics of Big Data Conference at Washington and Lee School of Law. Lexington, VA. April 2019.
“Unsound Methods?” Panel and Multimedia Performance, with Cory Holding, Matt Sumera, Josh Gumiela, and Allison Baker, Rhetoric Society of America,
Minneapolis, MN, May 2018.
Sound Studies, Workshop, Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute, Bloomington, IN, May 2017.
“Shouting Fire: Originalism and Antonin Scalia,” Jiggery-Pokery and Applesauce? The Impact and Legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia, Hamline University
Center for Justice and Law, Saint Paul, MN, February 2016.
“#Objectivity: Unlikable Narrative Justice,” Beyond Ferguson: Critical Conversations, Hamline University, Saint Paul, MN, January 2015.
“Campaign Narrative, The End: A New Story for the Narrative Model of Rhetorical Agency,” Rhetoric Society of America, San Antonio, TX, May 2014.
“The New New Journalism: The Post-Postmodern Aesthetics of Narrative As Rhetoric,” The International Society for the Study of Narrative, Boston,
Rogue Publics, Workshop, Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute, Lawrence KS, June 2013.
“Audience 3.0: A New Rhetorical Ethics (and Aesthetics) for a Post-Remix Era,” Rhetoric Society of America, Philadelphia, PA, May 2012.
“The Gentle Art of Accepting Enemies: New Media and the Rhetorical Aesthetics of Audience Exclusion,” The International Society for the Study of
Narrative, St. Louis, MO, April 2011.
“Playing Out Remix,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Louisville, KY, March 2010.
“End the Gaffe (And How Narrative Theory Let’s Us Do It),” The International Society for The Study of Narrative, Birmingham, UK, June 2009.
“2008: The Year We Re-Made Contact (or, Why Did Postmodernism End?)," Project Narrative Presents: Prophets in Their Own Century, Columbus, OH,
“I’m Not There Anymore: The Return of Identity in the Post-Remix Age,” Thomas R. Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, Louisville, KY,
“Ethos in a Remediated Age: Context, Character, and Community,” Rhetoric Society of America, Seattle, WA, May 2008.
“Evaluating the ‘Narrative Turn’” Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum, Columbus, OH, April 2007.
“Shouting ‘Fire’ in the Writing Classroom: Rhetoric, Law, and Composition,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, New York, NY,
“‘Alive and well and living in Washington’: Narrativity, Casebook Logic, and Legal Pedagogy,” The International Society for the Study of Narrative,
Washington, D.C., March 2007.
“The Rhetoric of Narrative--or, maybe, ‘The Narrative of Narrative,’” Thomas R. Watson Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, Louisville, KY,
“OurSpace: Resituating Civic Literacy in the University Curriculum,” LiteracyStudies@OSU, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, March 30, 2007.
“The Rhetoric of ‘Rhetoric’ in Rhetoric and Political Science,” Rhetoric Society of America, Memphis, TN, May 2006.
“New Media, New Curricula,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Chicago, IL, April 2006.
“The ‘Dean Scream’ Didn’t Happen (And How it Did),” American Popular Culture Association, Atlanta, GA, April 2006.
“Narrative Temporality in News Stories,” The International Society for the Study of Narrative, Ottawa, Canada, April 2006.
“Finding Authorization to ‘lance the boil’: Context, Content, and Free Speech Zones,” Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities,
Syracuse, NY, March 2006.
“’But…This is a Good Graph’: What a Political Science Classroom (and the Spanish- American War) Can Tell us About Interdisciplinarity, Grad
Students, and the Rhetoric of Rhetoric (and Vice Versa),” EGO Spring Graduate Colloquium, Columbus, OH, May 2005.
“Is It Something or Nothing? Narratologically Situating the Music of John Zorn’s Naked City,” Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum, Columbus,
OH, April 2004.
Selected Grants, Awards, and Honors
Oct 2022 Patrick Primeaux Best Paper Award (Runner Up)
Presented at International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference
May 2022 Virginia Tech, Pamplin College of Business
Grant for travel to Paris for Transatlantic Dialogue on AI & Humanity
Feb 2022 Next Team Challenge Award (Runner Up)
Nov 2021 Indiana University Kelley School of Business
$5000 and one paid employee for graduate curricula design
May 2021 Indiana University Kelley School of Business
$4900 and two paid employees for IDH research assistance
Feb 2021 Indiana University Kelley School of Business
$5000 for IDH research and curriculum development
Mar 2020 Best Paper Award, Midwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business.
Nov 2019 Visiting Scholar, OSTROM Working Group, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
March 2019 Provost Award for Community Outreach (North Central University)
March 2019 Minnesota Department of Health Grant
May 2017 Environmental Sustainability Grant (Hamline University)
April 2017 Center for Law and Justice Grant (Hamline University)
May 2015 Hanna Grant (Hamline University)
May 2014 Hanna and Humanities Grants (Hamline University)
May 2013 Hanna and Humanities Grants (Hamline University)
May 2006 Vera Carter Cooley Award (outstanding teaching of First Year Writing)
May 2003 Sheldon Sacks Award for Narrative Theory Research, Ohio State University
May 2001 Graduate Fellow, Department of English, Ohio State University