|Friday, April 28th|
UC North Ballroom
10:20 AM - 10:40 AM
Massive technological advances have made it easier than ever to connect with opportunities abroad and study in countries outside of the United States. An increase in students studying abroad has obliged institutions to provide increasing preparation and protection for those leaving the country. In several regions, vector-borne diseases are of chief concern. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that had a particularly devastating impact during the summer of 2016. Implications of a Zika infection can include: flu-like symptoms, joint and muscle aches, rashes, and, more seriously, a birth defect called microcephaly and an autoimmune disorder known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The Zika Awareness Program at University of Montana (ZAP-UM) is assisting UM students who are traveling abroad to regions where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has implemented a Zika-related travel warning. Fifty students from the University of Montana traveled to these countries during the 2015-2016 academic year, all of which were in Latin America. Consequently, ZAP-UM will focus on this part of the world. ZAP-UM will prevent contraction of Zika for students traveling in these countries, which will subsequently protect the rest of the community once the students return to the U.S. We will start this cycle of protection and education through the distribution of “ZapPaks” and helpful brochures. The most effective way to prevent the spread of disease is through education, so informational brochures will be provided to students in the ZapPaks. These brochures will describe the harms of Zika as well as practical prevention strategies that can be carried out with the use of ZapPak supplies. Along with the informational brochure, each ZapPak will contain a bed net, bug spray for both clothes and skin, water treatment tablets, and condoms. ZAP-UM will distribute these packs in collaboration with Curry Health Center during the 2017-2018 academic year.
UC North Ballroom
10:40 AM - 11:00 AM
In today’s global culture amid the increasingly contentious debate about immigration, the topic of refugees is particularly relevant. Through our research, we came to understand the refugee experience and xenophobic responses to it. Our main takeaway was that storytelling is one of the most effective means to create understanding between refugees and host communities. Our project will examine the refugee experience in the context of xenophobia and increase understanding via storytelling. Successful examples of storytelling have taken place through art shows, plays, and public school education. Our group aims to help Missoula’s Congolese families put on a play about their experience. While the families wrote the play and will star in it, our group will be in charge of logistics, marketing, fundraising and communications. This play will show Missoula, as well as Montana’s larger community, what the refugees experienced before coming to Missoula. Scenes from the play include living in a refugee camp, dealing with death and disease, encountering strict law enforcement at every step, and passing through a series of interrogations before coming to Missoula. We hope this play will bring mutual understanding to Missoulians and Montanans. We hope to have politicians in the audience, so if they find an increased understanding they can enact policy that will help refugees globally.
Mackenzie Prichard, University of Montana
UC North Ballroom
11:00 AM - 11:20 AM
Invasive plants threaten native biodiversity, degrade range and agricultural land, and have the potential to cost billions of dollars annually. Despite plentiful scientific information and resources on this topic, landowners and managers often fail to manage weeds effectively. Successful weed management requires proactive and effective action relevant to particular weed species and environmental conditions, and persistence over time. We have created an easy-to-use web tool designed specifically for private landowners that integrates environmental conditions input by users (including, but not limited to, weed species and coverage, and desired management outcome) and current scientific information in order to recommend best practices for custom weed management. The goal of our tool is to facilitate successful management actions by connecting motivated landowners to the appropriate and most effective methods and resources. We plan to promote the use of this tool among landowners in and around the Missoula Valley in order to ensure that the resources available to control and prevent weed infestations are accessible to those who need them.
Christopher Morucci, University of Montana, Missoula
UC North Ballroom
11:20 AM - 11:40 AM
The University of Montana consists of a large campus community of students who experience many different stressors. The limited avenues for stress outlet resources available on and off campus often cause these stresses to build up for students. Research has shown that unremitted stress leads to increased levels of illness, cuts years off of people's lives, and decreases happiness. Resources to relieve stress should be a priority on every campus because students who are left untreated are more likely to drop out of college or become a danger to themselves or others. The support at UM for stress reduction should include readily available resources for on-campus students, exchange students, satilite students, and those students studying abroad. The framework of mindfulness practices encompasses a more universal approach than other stress management techniques with a large variety of options for a diverse population. Mindfulness, a moment to moment awareness process, can be anything a person wants to be to suit his or her needs. A mindfulness-based stress reduction program will be introduced on campus through the utilization of a multi-modal intervention approach. Thus, to reach a large population, mindfulness practices will be led by residence assistants for incoming freshman and international students getting used to a new community; a Moodle shell with mindfulness curriculum and resources will be made available online for all students and faculty; the UM student group Mindfulness Matters will be available on campus for students seeking additional time to practice mindfulness; Curry Health Center will offer more services with the help of professionals; and to involve the community, there will be a summer camp available through SoftLanding Missoula for refugee children. Mindfulness practices are beneficial in managing stress and when students are better equipped to manage stress they have better wellbeing and mental health.
Hanna Ziegler, University of Montana, Missoula
UC North Ballroom
11:40 AM - 12:00 PM
The UMontana app is one of the current marketing strategies that the University of Montana is using to make information more easily accessible to students. Our team designed a tile for the UMontana app that would provide specific local information about UM’s twenty-one partner universities. This information will be used to help UM and international students better prepare for their study abroad experiences at these host universities. Our research shows that students studying abroad struggle to gain intercultural competence during their experience abroad because of factors like culture shock, language barriers, or sociocultural differences. The goal of this project is to increase the intercultural competence of UM students and international students coming to study at UM so that students can spend less time adjusting to their host university, and more time enjoying their study abroad experience and becoming competent global citizens. This app tile will answer practical questions like Where can I find feminine hygiene products? and What is the best bank to use in my host city? but also culturally specific questions like What are some important social customs? and What are the attitudes towards gender identity? The app is populated with survey information gathered from students that have already completed their study abroad experiences, but the page is now self-sustaining with a social media platform embedded in the tile. As students complete their experiences abroad, they can add their input into the tile, filling in the gaps from another student’s answers, and even posting pictures of their trip. Eventually, the project will expand to encompass more than the partner universities. With the help of the Global Engagement and Information Technology offices, this project became a reality.
Cassidy D. White
UC North Ballroom
1:40 PM - 2:00 PM
From the semi-arid cities and ranches of western Montana to the tropical villages and rice farms of southern Vietnam, the threat of climate change is imminent. Temperatures are rising, precipitation patterns are changing, and the resulting effects on the world's river systems are both drastic and unprecedented. Rivers are the arteries of the nations, sending water, the most basic building block for life, flowing across continents and providing for nature and society alike. Food, habitat, recreation, transportation, economics, and more all stem from the liquid resource rivers supply. Every environment has evolved around the ebb and flow of water resources and entire civilizations have been constructed in sync with the pulse of a river.
Here in Missoula, we know all too well the role a river plays in a city's culture and a mountain's calm. As the Clark Fork River winds through our valley and enters the greater Columbia River Basin, it fills the pockets, bellies, and weekends of many. Climate change, however, poses a threat to both the human and ecological components of rivers worldwide, including the Clark Fork. To better understand the dangers of climate change and its impacts on river systems, our paper uses the Columbia River Basin in the U.S. and Canada and the Mekong River Basin in Indochina as case studies. Both are large, transboundary rivers with mountainous headwaters and a complex cultural, ecological, and economic interconnectedness. In our attempt to discover the influence of a changing climate on the policy, livelihoods, and environments in transboundary river basins, we will conduct interviews in each region and analyze answers to determine commonalities. Findings will be made accessible via an online story map.
UC North Ballroom
2:00 PM - 2:20 PM
With society becoming increasingly global, it is more imperative than ever that students develop cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication skills. However, studies have found a lack of cultural communication in the United States (Matthews & Thakkar, 2012), especially within states such as Montana, which has a population that is 89 percent Caucasian, where students’ opportunities to develop these abilities are much more limited. This research project focused on the creation of an international pen pal program to assess whether letter exchanges between individuals from different cultural backgrounds could increase cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication skills in college students. Participants for this study were randomly assigned into an experimental group and a control group using wait-list control group methodology. Both groups completed an online pre-test, with the students in the experimental group going on to complete a three-week correspondence with an international student through an online Moodle platform. After three weeks both the control and experimental groups completed a post-test, which evaluated whether the program had any effect on students’ cultural awareness. In order to allow both groups an opportunity to participate in the program, after the post-test was completed the initial control group then completed their own three-week correspondence with international students. Results of the pre-test and post-test will be analyzed and shared with the course instructor. If the intervention is effective, the instructor will consider incorporating the assignment into the course curriculum.
UC North Ballroom
2:20 PM - 2:40 PM
Unprecedented in history, there are more refugees today than ever before, impacting countries around the globe. The purpose of this project is to create awareness and educate the general public about refugee experiences of resettlement. Through an interactive, walkthrough simulation, participants will be taught about the graphical, political, educational, interpersonal and bureaucratic hurdles faced by refugees seeking to resettle far from a hostile home. The simulation is composed of three stages that each represent a transition within the resettlement process: transportation, camp life, and the interview/vetting stage. To gauge the effectiveness of this campaign, our team will conduct survey-based research on participants’ attitudes towards refugees before and after the simulation through a number of statistically significant research questions.
This project seeks to develop empathy for refugees within a population through a basis of mutual understanding and, albeit simulated, experience. Additionally, the project aims to counteract negative attitudes held throughout communities by administering information about refugee resettlement processes. As a consequence, our project will provide attendees from teenagers to adults with new and accurate information about a process that they may not fully comprehend. Ultimately, this interactive simulation will strive toward building strong, welcoming communities by emphasizing that every person deserves to have a place to call home.
UC North Ballroom
2:40 PM - 3:00 PM
This research project intends to make an impact on what the FBI has deemed the “third-largest criminal enterprise in the world”—human sex trafficking. Alarmed by the prevalence of these crimes in just Montana, our group was inspired to dig deeper into the causes of sex trafficking and its most vulnerable victims. By researching current legislation, meeting with local stakeholders, and contacting and partnering with several NGOs, we have found that many of the laws necessary to protect these victims are already in place. This research project, therefore, focuses on finding and addressing the largest gaps and needs of already established resources for these victims locally and internationally.
Our research suggests that the greatest issues lie not in legislation but rather in the lack of enforcement of anti-trafficking laws. Important sublayers of our research uncovered the history of sex trafficking, which impacts cultural beliefs/stigmas that have led to corruption. This conclusion led our group to arrive at two different plans to impact sex trafficking in Montana and abroad, specifically Cambodia and India. First, we aim to educate Missoula’s public through the arts. To achieve this, we are working with members of the University of Montana’s theater department and other volunteers to give light to the complexities of sex trafficking through acting and storytelling. Second, we intend to make existing resources more accessible to these victims. By speaking with stakeholders like attorneys and law enforcement, we will identify the most prevalent nationalities of victims and create posters and cards with appropriate translations for established resources. To ensure the accessibility of these materials, we will partner with the Department of Justice or an NGO. Our ultimate hope is to have a tangible impact, both in Montana and globally, for the fight against modern slavery.