Brief biography

Jason A. Heppler
Photo by Carlos Seligo

Jason Heppler (he/him) is a fourth-generation Midwesterner, born and grew up in eastern South Dakota on the lands of the Yankton and Očeti Šakówiŋ Peoples and now makes his home in Omaha. He believes the way we make sense of who we are and how we got here helps shape the societies we are striving to build. Heppler is committed to the role that universities and other cultural institutions play as homes of this meaning-making, a commitment forged by experiences and relationships made in academic and civic institutions in Mitchell, Brookings, Lincoln, Stanford, San Jose, and Omaha. It is a commitment that underpins Heppler’s work as an environmental and urban historian, digital humanities developer, and advocate.

Jason earned his PhD in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln specializing in the North American West, with particular interests in urban history, recreation and tourism, politics and political culture, and environmental and climate history. His first book, tentatively titled Suburban by Nature: Silicon Valley and the Transformation of Environmental Politics and under contract with the University of Oklahoma Press, explores the postwar growth of the cities of Silicon Valley and the ways that their growth not only led to ecological disaster but introduced social inequality. He re-imagines the Silicon Valley’s history not just as symbol of post-industrialism, but as an illustrative of the consequences of the post-war period’s uneven suburban growth in shaping 20th century environmental politics, concerns over social justice, and ideas of sustainability.

He’s also a co-editor on Digital Community Engagement: Partnering Communities with the Academy (University of Cincinnati Press, 2020) with Rebecca Wingo and Paul Schadewald. This edited volume brings together cutting-edge campus-community partnerships with a focus on digital projects. Through a series of case studies authored by academics and their community partners, contributors explore models for digital community engagement that leverages new media through reciprocal partnerships. The contributions to the volume stand at the crossroads of digital humanities, public history, and community engagement, drawing ideas, methods, and practices from various disciplines to inform our public partnerships. By highlighting these projects the book provides other institutions, cultural heritage organizations, universities, and communities models for successful engagement.

Jason is also the co-founder and organizer, with Brandon Locke and Sarah Melton, of Endangered Data Week, a collaborative effort coordinated across campuses, nonprofits, libraries, citizen science initiatives, and cultural heritage institutions, to shed light on public datasets that are in danger of being deleted, repressed, mishandled, or lost. The week’s events promote care for endangered collections by: publicizing the availability of datasets; increasing critical engagement with them, including through visualization and analysis; and by encouraging political activism for open data policies and the fostering of data skills through workshops on curation, documentation and discovery, improved access, and preservation. Recently, EDW has begun emphasizing endangering data—information collected by governments, corporations, and other entities that have the potential of being misused, abused, or dangerous.

Prior to joining the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Jason was the Academic Technology Specialist with the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research at Stanford University Libraries and a member of the research staff at the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University. Prior to Stanford, he was a project manager on the William F. Cody Archive at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. He remains a research affiliate with the Spatial History Project and Humanities + Design at Stanford University.

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