Oral Presentations - Session 1B: UC 327


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Friday, April 17th
9:00 AM

Advantages and Challenges of Incorporating Virtual Currency into Small Businesses

Spencer Sheehan, University of Montana - Missoula

UC 327

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

This research paper discusses my findings in assisting Lake Missoula Tea Company become one of the first businesses in Missoula, Montana to accept Bitcoin, a virtual currency, as payment. First, I will offer a background of how Bitcoin technology works, and draw on notable historical issues to better understand its evolution, leading up to how it is currently used. I will explore possible economic benefits realized through utilizing Bitcoin in a business environment, such as transaction fee savings through substitution of traditional credit card processors, alleviating security and privacy issues, as well as publicity and marketing benefits. Serious roadblocks of the applicable usefulness of Bitcoin for a business are also discussed based on my experience with Lake Missoula Tea Company and other examples. I hope to educate the small business sector on the risks and rewards of virtual currency, as well as enable them to properly accept and process it as payment for goods or services.

9:20 AM

European Youth: Jockeys in Eurosceptic Dark Horse Politics?

Chase Ellinger, University of Montana - Missoula

UC 327

9:20 AM - 9:40 AM

“Eurosceptic” or anti-European Union (EU) political parties are notably gaining traction in EU elections across the political bloc. The continued importance of the Eurosceptic phenomenon was most recently evidenced in the pan-EU elections of May 2014, when parties like the UK Independence Party and France’s Front National gained scores of seats – and, therefore, influence – in the European Parliament (EP). This trend is disturbing to pro-EU politicians and Europhiles alike. Based on my review of existing literature, however, there is a notable lack of research into the role of youth voters in electing these political parties. In this paper, I draw on extensive EP post-election survey data to analyze trends among young voters – aged 18-24 – in eight EU member states between 1994 and 2014. I then compare unemployment statistics for people under age 25 in the four fiscal quarters prior to and including each election to the observed voting trends in the eight states in an attempt to explain the potential rise in popularity of Eurosceptic parties among young voters. Given the stagnant European recovery from the 2009 global financial crisis, coming-of-age voters may take a more anti-establishment approach to future European elections in order to voice their discontent with EU policies at the ballot box. Recognizing these trends is important for European political scholars and policymakers that would like to see the role of Eurosceptic parties diminished.

9:40 AM

Strengthening the Circle: Seeking Healthcare Equity for American Indians Experiencing Homelessness

Damion Barnett, University of Montana - Missoula

UC 327

9:40 AM - 10:00 AM

Equitable healthcare is a concept that calls for more than just providing equal access to primary care services. In order to achieve equity for a particular community, the healthcare system must address the social factors that prevent better health for members of that community. Many studies have shown that the U.S. healthcare system does not provide equitable care either to American Indians or to people who are homeless. These studies have identified poverty, trauma, and low educational attainment as obstacles to improving health within both of these populations. However, there are no published studies that specifically explore healthcare equity for American Indians who are experiencing homelessness. My research attempts to fill this gap. In 2013, American Indians made up 4.3 percent of the total Missoula County population but 13.5 percent of Missoula's homeless. In an effort to determine how the healthcare system provides equitable care to American Indians who are homeless, I am conducting both informal and formal interviews with local American Indians living in the Poverello Center, an emergency housing shelter, or who are otherwise without stable housing. I am also collecting demographic data from public sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, and the Indian Health Service (IHS), as well as obtaining utilization data from the Poverello Center and Missoula Indian Center (MIC), the local IHS-funded healthcare organization. I will use the data I collect to gauge whether or not the healthcare system is currently meeting the needs of American Indians in Missoula who are homeless. I will also work with the Poverello Center and MIC to develop strategies for making the local healthcare system more equitable, such as incorporating traditional healers, expanding workforce development opportunities, and adding programs or reshaping current program designs to address trauma and co-occurring disorders.

10:00 AM

Avoiding the Blue Period in Homeless Populations: Creative Pursuits and Their Potential to Redefine Self Worth in Shelter Populations

Tirza Asbell, University of Montana - Missoula

UC 327

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

As inequality grows, and social safety nets shrink due to dramatic funding reductions, homelessness is becoming a more pressing problem in our society. Shelters can provide food and housing to people experiencing homelessness, but may miss other opportunities for holistic aid because of funding based limitations. It has been well documented that Art therapies can help individuals overcome adversity or trauma. Used in therapeutic settings, art can enable individuals to communicate stresses and to create identities for themselves in a safe environment. Art therapies may provide a unique avenue to empower populations experiencing homelessness. This project seeks to understand how art therapies, and creative endeavors such as cooking, help redefine identities and bolster self worth in populations experiencing homelessness. In order to answer this question, I will conduct 36 hours of participant observation. Then I will identify themes in the data and write up my findings. Based on these observations, I expect to find that participants in both food preparation and art therapy develop different personal descriptors than those who are not participating. Knowing more about this topic can help shelters and other programs providing services to people experiencing homelessness create and sustain more holistic services.

10:20 AM

Truth Commissions and Collective Memory in Latin America

Mona Schwartz, University of Montana - Missoula

UC 327

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM

Human rights violations have an enormous effect on future generations and have the potential to divide or unite society in their wake. My research examines how a national, collective memory is formed after human rights abuse occurs, and how the work of a truth commission contributes to this process. My hypothesis is that when a truth commission is instated after an experience of human rights abuse, a nation will be better able to reconcile conflicted memories and experiences and to create a unified, collective memory of that human rights experience. Another component of my hypothesis is that, in order to be effective in collective memory facilitation, a truth commission should have strong investigative and reporting powers, make detailed recommendations for future action, and have a broad mandate. I used a case study approach of Latin American countries—Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala. These countries vary in their respective truth commission mandate, the commission’s investigative and reporting powers, and recommendations made by the commission. In order to gain a detailed understanding of the collective memory situation in each nation, I examined different elements of memory, including memorials, monuments, museums, and days of commemoration. I examined the number, location, and timing of memorials and monuments, and their relationship to the recommendations and timing of the truth commission. I also noted the presence of a museum or day of commemoration to honor the human rights abuse. This research provides a foundation for examining the consequences of human rights violations and links the separate lines of research that exist on truth commissions and on collective memory. An understanding of the impact of truth commissions on memory will help nations in the future to determine the most effective ways to heal from human rights abuse.