|Friday, April 22nd|
Niel Mondava, The University Of Montana
9:00 AM - 9:20 AM
Education was declared a universal human right by the U.N. over 70 years ago, but its global implementation has faced many challenges that limit the universal accessibility of education. Educational accessibility increases the physical and socioeconomic availability of learning to as many people as possible. A crucial component of accessibility is the ease at which teachers and learners can hear and communicate. Unfortunately, classroom acoustics have often been overlooked as a crucial component of educational accessibility. This project aims to identify common classroom acoustic issues and translate them into a rubric to assess acoustic conditions, understand the significance of acoustic features, and evaluate potential solutions to these acoustic issues.
To develop this toolkit, we conducted research on international building standards and surveyed educators and students with international experience to understand challenges with acoustic quality in a variety of learning environments. We consulted acoustic engineers, architects, and construction experts to compile technical information into simple language for this rubric, as well as ensure our evaluation of the codes and room features were in line with their expertise. Additionally, we researched biomimicry-based solutions, by interviewing experts and available solutions, alongside other solutions to make classroom acoustics more efficient, sustainable, and available to all. Through this we hope to ensure that our proposed solutions are realistic for the wide variety of international learning environments.
The culmination of this research will be a toolkit with information regarding global acoustic standards, and the lack thereof, including information collected from surveys on common acoustic issues faced in classrooms globally. Finally, it will contain a simple rubric that can be used to evaluate the acoustic quality of most types of classrooms paired with a variety of acoustic solutions based on biomimetic principles that can address these issues.
9:20 AM - 9:40 AM
In the United States and Canada, Native women, girls, and two-spirit people are stolen and killed at a disproportionate rate. Despite their pleas for justice, non-indigenous media are reluctant to give Indigenous voices a platform to incite change. Critically, the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People (MMIWG2S) is not endemic to North America, but permeates through aboriginal life on every continent as a tool of settler colonialism. Existing literature on the topic ofMMIWG2S has traced the roots of the crisis to settler colonialism and to non-Indigenous popular culture, but there is a gap in knowledge about how these two phenomena reinforce one another. After all, colonialism is an ongoing process. Our research question addresses this gap by asking: how does settler colonialism inform the portrayal of Indigenous women in popular culture today and perpetuate the disproportionate rates of violence that contribute to the MMIWG2S epidemic?
We find that popular culture intentionally fetishizes and misrepresents Indigenous women and girls, through the folklorized narrative of Pocahontas, for example, so as to reinforce ideologies of conquest and colonization that are embedded in the American ethos. While American media is consumed on a global scale, colonized media representations of Indigenous people are not specific to the American experience, and are present in settler colonial states across the globe including Canada and Australia. Taught to children at a young age, these sexualized, gendered, and racialized narratives contribute to settler attempts at erasure of Native people across the globe.To rectify this, our capstone group devised a two-part project. First, we collaborated with the Big Sky Institute to organize and promote the Native Filmmaker Initiative feature of their documentary film festival and host a panel discussion after the showing. Additionally, we sold raffle tickets and donated proceeds to Missoula Project Beacon and an MMIP direct services organization. Second, using perspective and knowledge gained from organizing the panel discussion and speaking with Indigenous filmmakers, educators, and activists, we created and shared a media literacy toolkit designed to help high school educators encourage critical thinking about misrepresentations of Indigenous life in popular culture. It is our hope that this toolkit will transcend the boundaries of the Missoula community and uplift Indigenous voices on a global scale.
Jacob Owens, University of Montana, Missoula
9:40 AM - 10:00 AM
Advancements in online platforms can lead to a more widely informed public, but they also create room for false information. Misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine has become a public safety issue. Our team created a project that contributes to solving this global problem. Our project’s mission is to tackle vaccine related misinformation. The project utilizes a human-centered method to design a solution.
Based on our literature review the main problem is skepticism about getting vaccinated. Our solution is to create an online portal targeted at college students, highlighting the benefits of vaccination, examining examples of misinformation, providing trusted sources for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals and persuading misinformation receivers to improve their media literacy.
Our understanding of the target audience increased via QR code stickers that directed unvaccinated individuals to a survey. This data, alongside student and expert interviews, helped design our platform. The site’s tailored to the concerns of those less likely to receive the vaccine due to misinformation. Part of our campaign is to use Facebook to direct people to our website, which has had nearly 433 views since its launch in February.
A stronger future in a virtual world requires sharpening the world's ability to spot misinformation. Our project called upon our target audience to engage in 4 Rs: rethink COVID vaccine information they receive, re-evaluate information by fact-checking, reconsider getting vaccinated so that they can reconnect with their family and friends safely. We built an internationally accessible website, fostered an accepting online environment for education and asking questions to a healthcare professional, increased awareness of COVID-19 misinformation, connected individuals with different perspectives on vaccinations, encouraged young people to improve their media literacy, developed an appealing brand for vaccine-hesitant young people, contributed to research about campaign strategies for reducing vaccine hesitancy, and we’ve sparked a global conversation.
Heidi Martin, University of Montana, Missoula
10:10 AM - 10:30 AM
Our group started the year focused on education and awareness around refugee resettlement. Due to the extreme immigration crises of Afghanistan and, most recently, in Ukraine, we wanted to focus our time and effort in a positive, productive way. Missoula is expecting unprecedented numbers of refugees in the next year. Given the increased demand for refugee resettlement services, we chose to host a fundraiser to support Soft Landing’s growing support services, which reflects the importance of local non-profit refugee resettlement agencies. Using established best practices in fundraising we, along with Soft Landing, are hosting a week of fundraising and educational events. With the help of three local businesses, many local artists and community members, and the University of Montana, our group has planned a four-day, four-event fundraiser. Given the expanse of our efforts, we intend to raise $5,000 for Soft Landing and the refugees Missoula will be receiving in the coming year.
Isabelle Melton, The University of Montana
10:30 AM - 10:50 AM
Purpose: We developed a website for refugees and other newcomers in Missoula that will assist them in finding needed resources and help fill the gaps in services currently available through organizations like Soft Landing Missoula (SLM) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). This service will aid refugees and other newcomers to successfully resettle in Missoula by aiding them in navigating the community.
Methods: During the Fall 2021 semester, our group researched the refugee crisis worldwide and the United States’ approach to accepting refugees. After various discussions with key stakeholders in the community, including representatives from SLM and the IRC, we identified certain areas where a website would prove useful to newcomers to Missoula. As a supplement to the work of SLM and the IRC, the web platform will provide for specific needs, including accessing places of worship, finding ethnic foods in grocery stores, becoming familiar with banking and postal systems, and even learning about local events. Through this web-based resource, we hope to help refugees and other newcomers become comfortable in their new home by making the Missoula community more accessible and welcoming.
Significance: As of 2022, roughly 1% of the global population is displaced—including 26.4 million refugees. Unfortunately, over these past few years, there has been significant political turmoil, economic crises, environmental degradation, social conflict, and armed upheaval across the globe that negatively impact refugees and resettlement efforts. In 2016, amidst the shuttering of other resettlement agencies, Missoula reopened its own agency through the IRC. Since then, Montana has received over 400 refugees, many of whom live in Missoula. In FY2021 and FY2022, approximately 100 humanitarian parolees fleeing Afghanistan’s ongoing political crisis resettled in Missoula. In addition to the lengthy and burdensome process of resettlement, refugees and newcomers often face specific challenges when integrating into a Montana community. Newcomers face language barriers, cultural differences, and separation from their support networks back home. Learning to navigate a new community is challenging and can be a major stressor for new arrivals, causing some to feel isolated or face other negative feelings that can be detrimental to their mental or physical well-being. Our project aims to aid refugees and other newcomers in their efforts to successfully resettle in Missoula, helping them find resources and confidently navigate the community so Missoula can truly feel like home.
Hailey Powell, University of Montana, Missoula
11:00 AM - 11:20 AM
In an effort to both analyze how COVID-19 has impacted traditionally isolated communities and prevent loneliness, we have created a pen-pal program between UM students and senior adults. We have implemented a pilot pen-pal program to create lasting social bonds without exposing seniors to COVID-19. The program is currently running through the Davidson Honors College “Intro to Honors” course, with plans to leave the program self-sustaining in future semesters. To pair partners, we distributed interest surveys and matched relevant interests. To inform people of how loneliness affects seniors, we created a brochure that highlights our research, with plans to distribute it in the Curry Health Center and among our community partners. At the conclusion of our pilot program, we will have our senior partners fill out a feedback form to understand the effectiveness of our program.
Our research points toward the need for loneliness prevention strategies, especially in the wake of the pandemic, which has exacerbated social isolation in older adults. Social connection has proven to be one of the most successful mitigation techniques, but physical contact can be dangerous because of the pandemic. Dialogue through letter-writing can create invaluable social bonds without potentially exposing elderly participants to COVID-19. The senior participants in our pilot grew up writing letters and communicating via physical mail so the pen-pal program was extremely comfortable to this generation. Pen-pal programs create a viable and sustainable solution, accessible for all generations to reduce the negative effects the pandemic has had on the elderly.
11:20 AM - 11:40 AM
As six students of the Resources and Sustainability Global Theme of the Franke GLI program our capstone project addresses the need for emotional, intellectual and substantive environmental conversations, a lack thereof we all have observed in our studies and daily lives. We conducted research of scholarly sources that found experience, upbringing, biases, and emotions are influencers of a person’s attitude and behavior toward the environment and climate change. Attitude is expressed through a person’s morals that inform behavior. The topics of environment and climate change are largely interpreted and expressed through pathos, which is easily manipulated by social media, marketing, and news sources. The second half of our research focused on conversation and interview techniques that would help us discuss these influences with others and learn how they manifest themselves in individuals' lives. Finding agreement, listening intently, providing a safe atmosphere, creating rapport, being cognisant of pacing, tone, and emotions are crucial to conducting an emotionally, politically, or personally challenging conversation. We compiled our sources into a literature review that identifies what shapes a person’s relationship with the environment and climate change and how to hold conversations about these topics. The culmination of work is a podcast series, “Roots to Reason,” that models these environmental conversations. We conducted nine conversations with individuals such as ranchers, professors, small business owners and tribal members about their upbringing and relationship with the environment and climate change. These conversations were analyzed and synthesized into a podcast format to deliver conversation models to scholars and laymen. Not considering the background that shapes an individual’s morals, attitudes, and behaviors impedes productivity and collaboration that is critical to solving environmental challenges. This project models how differing backgrounds can cooperate from a place of mutual understanding and acceptance.
1:40 PM - 2:00 PM
Depression and anxiety are prevalent issues with rates that continue to increase each year for adolescents within our society. This project focuses on creating a website that will engage adolescents to own their mental health and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety by equipping them with self-help tools. The website includes situational videos, journaling prompts, and other interactive resources based in Positive Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The online toolkit is designed to be available to people who use online accessibility functions. We created a pilot version of the website using the platforms Toonly and Wix, and then hosted a focus group with students at Willard Alternative High School to receive feedback from our primary population as we were creating the website. Using an online platform makes these resources accessible to a broader range of individuals globally and helps subvert the cost, time, and stigma that comes from receiving traditional mental health care. This website is a resource that is much more accessible and enjoyable for students, and takes a more interactive approach to self-help, encouraging adolescents to “Be their Own Superhero”. Our goal in the creation of this website was to create a place where adolescents can seek stigma-free help and be equipped with tools that they could start using immediately to take ownership of their mental health.
Esther Lyon Delsordo, University of Montana, Missoula
2:00 PM - 2:20 PM
Credit scores are used around the world to measure creditworthiness in lending, but they can also act as barriers to entry into financial systems and as barriers to economic mobility. The purpose of our project is to raise awareness of how credit scores function as these barriers, as well as provide valuable information to help people enact solutions to these problems at a variety of levels.
Our team has put together a series of interviews with credit scoring experts from home and abroad to give their perspectives on the ways credit scores are used and how they affect people’s lives. The interviews will stream as a podcast and some of the speakers will return to participate in a Mansfield Dialogue through the Mansfield Center. The response of the Missoula community to these discussions will be evaluated through measurements of viewership of the dialogue and podcast, engagement on social media, comments in the website forum, and feedback in the Mansfield Dialogue post-talk survey.
2:20 PM - 2:40 PM
Our understanding of the science of anthropogenic climate change and its immediate and indirect impacts has grown within the last decade. Alongside an increase in concern for the inequities within the industrialized food system, climate change is impacting agriculture and the communities that depend on it in myriad ways. These challenges have catalyzed investment in sustainable agriculture, “eat local” food movements, and rethinking of all aspects of food systems, including consumers, producers, retailers, and distributors. The body of literature on food systems primarily focuses on the connection between consumers and retailers; however, there is a notable absence of literature on the relationships between food producers, distributors, and retailers, even though the vast majority of consumers rely on this critical intersection in order to procure food. A great deal of social science research has explored farmer networks, consumer behavior around sustainable food, the marketing of more sustainable food products, and large-scale commercial food systems. Our research explores relationships between retailers and producers in western Montana in an effort to better understand how these two groups influence each other. We conducted one-on-one interviews with five retailers and five producers/distributors to better understand the relationships and influence that arise as these two critical stakeholders play their roles in a regional food system. The purpose of our research is to highlight the interconnectedness of producers, distributors, and retailers and how they directly influence each other. Additionally, our research helps to identify issues in more efficiently connecting these parties.
Keywords: distributor, produce, organic, local producer, customer, shrink, food systems, food, green, sustainability, retailer, producer, farmer, agriculture, grocery store, consumer, produce manager, western Montana, procurement
Ava Sweet, University of Montana, Missoula
2:40 PM - 3:00 PM
Located in Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Badger-Two Medicine area (B2M) spans 130,000 acres and is situated on the Rocky Mountain Front. The area borders the Blackfeet Reservation, Glacier National Park, and Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wilderness areas. B2M possesses immense cultural and spiritual importance for the Blackfeet tribe, who have occupied the area since time immemorial. The area is also one of the last remaining refuges for vulnerable fish and wildlife species such as westslope cutthroat, grizzly bears, wolverines, and mountain goats. Altogether, B2M possesses vast spiritual, cultural, and ecological importance throughout. However, extractive development, disagreements over protection status, and varying tribal and federal interests have created management complications within its boundaries.
Through an education-based project that focuses on communication and understanding, we explored current and future policy actions, opinions, and considerations for managing B2M’s culturally significant land. Our research involves interviewing tribal, federal, state, private, and non-profit stakeholders in the area to better understand where each group stands on current and future management actions in the area, and culturally significant land more broadly. Further, we will also host a Zoom panel in April consisting of individuals representing tribal, federal, conservation, and academic areas of expertise regarding B2M. In doing so, we hope to facilitate an informal yet informative discussion regarding management actions that inform the public and decision makers. We hope that our project will convey the complexities of managing culturally significant land, yet also inform others of the B2M’s management landscape. Communication between relevant groups and accessible information appears to be lacking, and this panel would help communicate the nuanced and broad distinctions between policy approaches to managing B2M. Through our case study, we also aim to provoke a wider discussion on policies pertaining to culturally significant land in other areas of the U.S. and globally.