Over the course of three decades, Kim Pearson has built a career using professional communications to help people, organizations and communities bridge differences and create new opportunities. Building upon a background in magazine journalism and public relations, her current focus is on expanding computational fluency among those who have traditionally been underrepresented in both the computing and media industries. In modern democracies, the public square is a largely computational construction. Thus, the digital divide is not only a crisis of workforce preparedness, but a threat to participatory democracy itself.
A graduate of Princeton University, Pearson began her professional career as a writer and lay counselor for the Cancer Information Service at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. She then matriculated through New York University’s graduate program in journalism, where she earned the Hillier Krieghbaum Science Writing Award. After NYU, she became a science writer for Bell Laboratories, where she produced award-winning articles for several company newspapers and magazines. Pearson also began a freelance magazine writing career that would lead to bylines in Black Collegian, Black Enterprise, Newsday, The Crisis, Newsday, The Revealer, The Princeton Independent, Princeton Alumni Weekly, Quarterly Black Review of Books and Emerge.
Currently, she is Chair of the African American Studies Department and an Associate Professor in the English Department at The College of New Jersey, where she teaches courses in writing and reporting for journalism and interactive multimedia. She is a co-founder of TCNJ’s Interactive Multimedia Major. She is past advisor to TCNJ’s award winning student newspaper, The Signal, , advisor to Unbound, an online news magazine that was first conceived in her magazine writing class in 1996, and which has published continually ever since. She also advised TCNJ’s award-winning magazine club, Ed@TCNJ and the campus chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Pearson’s current interdisciplinary research and practice is focused on creating and sustaining models for civic engagement in an environment that has upended traditional journalism and civic culture.
That practice has included publishing a blog, Professor Kim’s News Notes, from 2003-9, providing reporting and informed analysis of politics, culture and media criticism. From 2006 to the present, Pearson has served as a contributing editor for media and law for BlogHer.com, a major online community for women bloggers, where she was integrally involved in coverage of the 2008 election. She also contributed to Poynter.org’s E-Media Tidbits blog and the Online Journalism Review.
Pearson also collaborates with colleagues in computer science and interactive multimedia to help writers and storytellers become better computational thinkers, and to help aspiring computer scientists become better communicators. This work includes helping to conceive the content management system for Unbound magazine, and being part of an interdisciplinary faculty team that created and executed TCNJ’s videogame development curriculum. That curriculum was initially created with support from Microsoft.
Pearson’s work has garnered support from the National Science Foundation. From 2007-10, she was the co-PI of the Broadening Participation in Computing via Interactive Journalism for Middle Schoolers demonstration project. She has been co-Principle Investigator for a second NSF grant, Distributed Expertise in Computing with Connections to the Arts, under the aegis of the cPATH program from 2008-12. Currently, she is co-PI for the NSF grant TUES: Collaborating Across Boundaries to Engage Undergraduates in Computational Thinking, which runs from August, 2012 to July, 2015. This work has led to publications in ACM Transactions in Computing Education and ACM SIGSCE.
Pearson is a life member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, as well as an associate member of the National Association of Black Journalists.