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Can One Person Impact Climate Change?

Morgan Sarmento, University of Montana, Missoula
Emma Kiefer, University of Montana, Missoula
Carmyn Wahl, University of Montana, Missoula
Mason Dow, University of Montana, Missoula
Madeline Broom, University of Montana, Missoula

Climate change is one of the defining issues of our era. In order to mitigate the effects of the global crisis, a transformation of attitudes and behaviors around environmental sustainability is required. Literature indicates that one of the best ways to change one person's attitudes and beliefs is through leadership and group action. Given that we are situated at the University of Montana, the easiest groups to focus on are ASUM student groups. These groups are not only accessible but they already possess the structure that is needed in order to effectively mobilize change in the individual. Working with established student groups, we distributed a survey that determined a baseline of environmental attitudes and knowledge that the student group had for environmental sustainability. Using that information we created a customized environmental curriculum to present to each student group in order to give them more information and influence their attitudes towards environmental sustainability. Finally, we will distribute an additional survey and compared the two to see determine if there was a difference between environmental attitudes and knowledge from the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester to the end. Our goal is to change the attitudes and behaviors of the individual so that they will be more likely to continue using sustainable practices in the future. This will create a domino effect that will effectively create change in the global crisis that we face today.

Culture Connect: Diversity Resource Toolkit

Delaney Slade, University of Montana, Missoula
Danika Bosch-Greer, University of Montana, Missoula
Kelsey Noble, University of Montana, Missoula
Mollie Lemm, University of Montana, Missoula
Anna Potter, University of Montana, Missoula
Erin Landis, University of Montana, Missoula
Abigail Nurvic, University of Montana, Missoula

Globally, refugees are displaced at high rates and must integrate into a society where they are an ethnic minority. Since 2016, the International Rescue Committee has resettled over 300 refugees in Missoula; about 20% of which are school-aged children. Therefore, it is important that schools facilitate refugee inclusivity and intercultural competence within student peer groups. To aid in solving this global problem, we developed a project using the three steps of Human-Centered Design that aimed to enhance teacher competence, knowledge and increase the access to resources needed to address this global problem in the classroom setting. For the inspiration phase, we reviewed relevant literature and interviewed experts. During ideation, we integrated ideas and insights collected to develop and design our project, which includes a print and online diversity resource educational toolkit for use by pre-service and in-service teachers in elementary classrooms. The implementation intended to involve piloting the toolkit for six weeks in Missoula elementary classrooms with potential adaptation for school settings with similar characteristics beyond the Missoula community. Our five objectives that guide the development of the toolkit components are to 1) reduce prejudice in schools with daily exposure and practice; 2) enhance multicultural education and widen cultural representation in classrooms; 3) supplement existing language acquisition support for refugee students/parents and teachers; 4) enhance classroom introductory period for refugee students by including diverse representation in the classroom and inspiring students to be welcoming of refugee children; 5) streamline access to educational resources for teachers. As part of the implementation, we conducted pre/post-surveys to assess attitude change among students and teachers. In addition, we obtained feedback from teachers globally on toolkit improvements for its sustainable implementation. The expected learning outcomes are to decrease prejudice and enhance intercultural competence necessary for welcoming communities for refugees in a diverse society.

Green Home Montana: Eco-friendly Housing and Living Practices

Karlyn Roberts, University of Montana, Missoula
Nicolas Ream, University of Montana, Missoula
Savannah Willison, University of Montana, Missoula
Dylan Trent, University of Montana, Missoula

While the green building movement is common practice in the commercial realm, it is not yet widely popular with residential buildings. We considered the question “How can residents of western Montana adopt eco-friendly housing practices that are locally appropriate and relevant?” There is an opportunity to increase green living practices among renters and homeowners in western Montana through retrofitting, gardening, composting, and similar behaviors. By considering climatic factors relevant to the region, suggestions for relevant eco-friendly practices can be made available to homeowners and renters alike. We will research green living practices used in other countries with similar climatic factors as western Montana. We will then make a website to help streamline locally relevant information catered to help residents take action towards their sustainability goals. We will survey a sample of residents throughout western Montana to inform the materials provided on the website. For example, these materials may include, but are not limited to, sustainability project demonstration videos, links to local builders, history, blogs, global initiatives, and links to other resources. We expect this website to be relevant and increase accessibility to western Montanan renters and homeowners.

Raise the Flag: Spreading Awareness of the Sex Trafficking Crisis Through Social Media

Courtney Bentz, University of Montana, Missoula
Abigail Borden, University of Montana, Missoula
Peter Kolokotrones, University of Montana, Missoula
Nate Capener, University of Montana, Missoula
Alyssa Stokovich, University of Montana, Missoula

Sex trafficking is a global crisis. The International Labor Organization estimates a total of 40.3 million people are trafficked annually, with 15.4 million placed in forced marriages and 4.8 million entering sexual exploitation (2017). Technology has become a tool for traffickers to prey on the vulnerable but has also developed into an invaluable means to reach those targeted. Our group, Raise the Flag, addresses this critical issue by examining the social media platform Instagram and how predators use it to target vulnerable populations, particularly those in rural and tribal communities of the United States. According to researcher Leilahni Upham “the power of awareness plays a vital role in combating sex trafficking in rural communities” (2019), and it is by utilizing social media to disseminate information and resources that we aim to undermine traffickers.

With an increasing number of victims recruited online, we created an educational Instagram campaign as a progressive form of outreach that could more directly impact the Missoula community. To reach our target audience, we first cultivated followers by posting scheduled content designed to educate them, as well as provided resources to help others recognize and respond to trafficking situations. We networked with other established groups for support, such as the University of Montana Student Advocacy Resource Center and The Lifeguard Group, as well as by fostering a physical presence on campus through tabling events, distributing stickers, and posting fliers. We retained our followers by developing engaging Instagram content, including quizzes, stories, and infographics. By establishing an interactive following, we encourage the likelihood of resources spreading and provide a model of support to similar rural communities. With Raise the Flag, we intend to foster awareness that will contribute to the overall fight against sex trafficking and better equip communities to proactively support victims and survivors.

Reentry Resources Missoula

Daniel Parsons
Grace Dunnehoff
Jazzlyn Johnson
Gwenith Meske
Daisy Ward
Elizabeth Williams
Marianna Yearboro

In the United States, Native Americans experience higher rates of incarceration and recidivism compared to other racial groups. Our project seeks to address the disparity of recidivism within the Native American community in Missoula, Montana. We compiled information about indigenous incarceration in Mexico and Australia to better understand the global issues facing indigenous people in criminal justice systems. We also spoke with nine different local organizations and individuals in Missoula that facilitate reentry and provide resources for the Native American community. During these conversations, we learned about the need to address the Native American reentry experience. By creating an accessible resource guide and website, we will both increase outreach to these individuals and promote greater awareness of the issue of high incarceration and recidivism rates within the Missoula Native American community. The main component of our project is a resource guide that provides a comprehensive list of resources for previously incarcerated Native Americans in Missoula. The resources we provide aim to cover the basic needs of individuals, including housing, employment, government assistance programs, food and clothing, addiction counseling, and resources specific to the Native American community. In addition to this resource guide, we will create a website with more detailed information and blog posts describing the extent of the challenges these individuals face during reentry, along with recommendations on how to navigate them. Given the recent COVID-19 outbreak, we have decided to evaluate the success of our project through feedback from community organizations sponsoring digital copies of our guide or organizations promoting our website to maintain social distancing guidelines. With this project, we have the chance to address a severe but often forgotten problem. We hope that this resource guide will be of great benefit to the Native American community experiencing reentry in Missoula.

The Power of Peers: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic through Peer Support Programs

Claire Nicole Everingham, University of Montana, Missoula
Carly Zilge, University of Montana, Missoula
Canyon Hohenstein, University of Montana, Missoula
Bailey Carpenter, University of Montana, Missoula
Sarah Wells, University of Montana, Missoula

The opioid epidemic kills 47,600 people in the United States annually on average, which accounts for approximately 67% of all fatal overdoses. In addition to receiving medical treatment for addiction, opioid addicts require behavioral treatment as well. A peer support network, a system of peer mentors who help give emotional stability to addicts and maintain accountability, provide this crucial but often unattainable aspect of behavioral treatment. Mentorship support offers a long lasting relationship, in which recovering addicts will have continued support and are less likely to relapse, helping them to stay clean during and after medical treatment is completed. In this capstone, we will analyze existing peer support systems and develop a network platform that is transferable to government agencies and rehabilitation facilities in both the U.S. and other nations. We will design a website where opioid users, friends, family members, and members of a community affected by the crisis can find resources and connect with a network. We will develop a podcast highlighting the successes of the peer networking system in different use cases and health-related programs around the world. Opioids kill more people in the United States than any other drug, and while the heaviest casualties of the epidemic are in the U.S. and Canada, the research we have conducted suggests that this is a growing crisis in many other nations, from Australia to Egypt. Therefore it is imperative not only in American society, but within the global community as well, to develop exceptional rehabilitation programs to treat the rising number of addicts.