|Friday, April 21st|
Kaitlyn M. Blume
10:00 AM - 10:20 AM
"Addressing Eco-Emotions: An Initiative for Coping with Climate-Induced Emotional Distress" is a research project aimed at tackling the growing challenge of eco-emotions, such as eco-grief or eco-anxiety, brought about by the impacts of climate change. Despite the complex and widespread nature of the issue, and the limited training of the group in the field of mental health, the goal is to raise awareness about eco-emotions and provide a supportive space for individuals to process their feelings related to the climate crisis. Through hosting a week-long series of events, each tailored to a different coping mechanism for eco-emotions, the project aims to create a platform for individuals at the University of Montana to explore various coping methods, share experiences, and foster a sense of community amongst participants. These events include an interactive poster walk on UM’s oval, a meditation session tailored to calm anxiety surrounding the state of the environment, an action project to allow participants to act as part of the solution to climate change, and more. The group's role is to support individuals and communities in their efforts to cope with eco-emotions, serving as a catalyst for larger efforts to address this pressing issue.
10:20 AM - 10:40 AM
Bear Smart UM: Creating a University Campus Safe for Bears and Students
Universities nestled in the mountains across the globe like the University of Montana may find themselves dealing with human-bear conflict while lacking the proper resources to approach management. At UM, there has been an increase in bear activity over the past five years and it is expected to continue to increase. Developing a plan to prevent bear activity on campus is often costly, time-consuming, and tedious. Our student group’s solution includes two intertwining parts: A bear management plan and educational outreach surrounding bear safety. The recommendations in the bear management plan were created by consulting bear-conflict specialists from Missoula County, craftspeople who construct bear-proof enclosures, and hotspots for bear activity gathered by the UM Chapter of the Wildlife Society. The bear management plan includes recommendations related to waste management for different locations on campus, fruit trees and native plants that are bear attractants, and a corresponding budget. The educational outreach
has involved creating informational PowerPoints and flyers and presenting them to classes at UM to educate students about bear-safe behavior and to encourage students to attend our bear spray safety demonstration by the Bear Aware Campaign on April 4, 2023. Both parts of our project are essential in providing solutions for the intriguing relationship UM has with bears and preventing any further conflict that can harm the UM community and the bear population.
10:40 AM - 11:00 AM
Stigmatization, lack of accessible menstrual products, and an overall misconstrued sense of menstruation impact menstruators at a disproportionate rate. When diving into the literature, we found that refugee women not only faced stigmas and a lack of access to menstrual products and education, but also ran into cultural barriers and differing attitudes on menstruation. To address this issue, we formulated the idea of a menstrual drive. Instead of focusing on refugee menstruators as a whole, our focus will be the refugee population in Missoula, MT. We recognize that the stigmatization of menstruation is an ongoing global issue that affects many menstruators worldwide; however, we also aim to address the same issue present within our community. During the implementation stage of this project, we found commonly shared interests in the refugee crisis as well as sexual health education and started here when creating our project’s main idea. The next stage involved gathering information about refugee menstruators, cultural considerations, barriers to menstruation, and an apparent lack of education. Then we began outreach to Soft-Landing Missoula and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on the feasibility of this project. Our next and final steps will include gathering menstrual products to assemble menstrual kits and dispersing these kits to Soft-Landing Missoula for refugee menstruators to collect. Our goal is to make an impact and reverse menstruation stigma at the community level, starting with our refugee community.
Kelsey Stansberry, The University Of Montana
11:10 AM - 11:30 AM
The study explores the relational character of human interactions with the Clark Fork watershed in order to better understand the watershed’s contemporary issues, history, and to provide recommendations towards improving human-river interactions. Through a multi-media film project, we highlight the voices of those whose lives have been influenced by the Clark Fork watershed and analyze a collection of writings about the Clark Fork watershed from the past two centuries. Our project is an experiment in ecocentric storytelling (Erten 2008); we aim to support greater local awareness of the Clark Fork’s importance and contribute to community knowledge about opportunities to support the watershed’s sustainability.
In this presentation, we discuss our methods, background research, and processes in creating the short film, including our recruitment outreach and film artistry as we center the Clark Fork river and its tributaries as the main characters of our film. Through publicly hosting this film on a website (www.StoriesFromTheClarkFork.com) and partnering with community organizations such as the Clark Fork Coalition for promotion, we hope to raise awareness about the ongoing livelihoods impacted by degradation of the Clark Fork River and will encourage restoration on individual and community levels. This engaging visual medium may motivate our local community to take action, and serve as a centralized media resource to foster connection between the community and the land around them. Through interviews from a variety of local stakeholders, we hope to get a well-rounded representation of the community that uses the river and the ways they have been impacted by the systematic degradation of the river. This film will give a sense of the greater community throughout the Clark Fork Watershed empowering people to protect this river.
11:30 AM - 11:50 AM
Healthcare facilities are generators of large amounts of waste, leading to global environmental impacts that negatively impact both human health and natural systems around the world. Medical waste is usually defined quite broadly, encompassing any waste generated by a healthcare facility. Increasing use of single use plastic and single use devices has led to a large uptick in medical waste globally, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, 4.7 billion tons of healthcare waste is produced each year, which is approximately thirty-three pounds per hospital bed per day (Overstreet, 2021). The generation and disposal of this waste leads to many negative impacts to the environment and human health, such as toxins released into the air, possible exposure to infectious diseases, or the general overfilling of landfills. This underscores the need for the healthcare sector to rethink its approach to waste and to find solutions to reduce and effectively manage waste from their operations. Our research suggests that providing education and promoting small changes can be effective in reducing the amount of medical waste generated. Instead of altering the way that entire medical systems think about their waste, we can reach those who may begin to foster that change. Our healthcare system is rigid and complex and so often the easiest way to navigate changes is through small tweaks to the system. Some of the biggest differences were made by hospitals by switching to a reusable product or retraining staff on proper techniques. Education is the solution that has brought forth the most success according to our research. Educating healthcare professionals and the public about different types of medical waste and how its generated along with the potential risks associated with improper disposal will only benefit the environment in the future.
Based on this research, we chose to host a medical waste day, partnering with local organizations that share our same ideas and visions to generate awareness. Additionally, this event will be advertised and open to the public and will be hosted in a community space. The medical waste day will prove more successful if more people are reached, thus, it is vital that we allow our day to be accessed by all those interested. Our approach to the development and implementation of a medical waste day will require collaborative efforts within our group and the broader community. This will be done in 5 steps: finding partners with like minded interests, creating a preliminary survey to assess local need, organizing the event, hosting the event, and evaluating the impact of the event. For the first two steps, we will reach out to our partners via email to establish interest and level of participation in our event. The third and fourth step will be brought about by collaboration within our team/school. In order to determine the impact that our medical waste awareness day created, we will send out an exit survey that asks specific questions to gauge effectiveness. Our hope is to foster new connections between organizations and to encourage healthcare organizations to implement change. We also hope that by opening this event to the public that we will increase general awareness of medical waste.
Riese Munoz, University of Montana
11:50 AM - 12:10 PM
Brave Spaces, Radical Openness, and Youth Loneliness
Global Leadership Initiative
Globally, young adults face potentially isolating social pressures. Today’s youth feel frequent anxieties about fitting in, finding success, and uncertainty of the future, and these anxieties are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Young adults worldwide report feeling more anxious, more depressed, and more lonely. However, deliberate community building, the creation of art and writing as a means of self-exploration, and the creation of spaces designed for acceptance fend off these feelings of loneliness. How might we acknowledge social pressures on young adults and create a brave space to build community through self expression?
Many university campuses host creative writing workshops. Our team discovered this style of course has the potential to create both a radically open space in which young adults can come together, as well as the opportunity for self-reflection via writing and/or creating art. Holding these community-centered workshops will make the social pressures young adults experience feel surmountable. We will ensure these workshops embody the idea of brave spaces by acting as facilitators, allowing participants to drive each lesson, and creating an environment free of animosity and judgment. By establishing a capacity-building brave space, our project addresses the myriad social pressures facing young adults today.
1:10 PM - 1:30 PM
The frequency and severity of wildfires have increased around the world within the last two decades due to shifts in land management practices, climate change, and other factors. The effects of these fires have led to an inaccurate public perception of wildfire as a whole. This overly-simplified, vilified perception of wildfire obscures the role that it has played in shaping landscapes for thousands of years, and how indigenous peoples have applied fire to take care of landscapes.
We sought to empower future generations to better coexist with wildfire by changing this public perception through a children’s book. Over the course of the 2022-2023 academic year, we researched fire management practices, fire ecology, and the ways that children learn. We also interviewed experts on prescribed and cultural burning in the United States and Australia. We chose these two settings to focus on due to the similarities they share in terms of their fire-adapted landscapes and management histories. We then crafted our story based on the lessons learned in our research and interviews.
Our target audience is children who are in the third grade (ages eight to nine). This is an age where pictures are still impactful and nuanced concepts are also appropriate. Our story addresses three main points: wildfire is a natural ecological process, wildfire is a place-based phenomenon, and wildfire can be used by people to curate landscapes through cultural and prescribed burns. Full-spread illustrations make the book appealing and impactful.
The book will be distributed to several organizations in Montana and western Australia that interact with children and parents. Since children are the future fire managers and will live with increased wildfire, their understanding of fire as a tool is vital to future management. Developing a nuanced public perception of wildfire will create a more supportive environment for healthy landscape management.
1:30 PM - 1:50 PM
Title: Alienation as a Global and Local Issue
Purpose: We asked questions to determine if alienation is an issue that needs to be addressed and how to address it. With the help of our University of Montana campus and experts, we now better understand alienation as it exists and doesn’t exist on campus.
Methods: We analyzed data and responses collected from a survey advertised across campus, as well as conducted interviews with students and experts in the field of alienation.
Significance: Provide valuable information and data to empower our campus community to live in such a way that eradicates and prevents alienation.
As a group, we hoped to identify and research an issue that was widespread. We soon found through literature review, that a great burden affecting our society is the universal feeling of alienation. Alienation has long been a term used to describe workers’ thoughts toward their work, though the progression of society has transformed the term to hold a deeper context rooted in social and educational settings. Today it can be used synonymously alongside feelings such as powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement. It impacts everything including (but certainly not limited to) workforce participation, academic achievement, mental health, and our families on a global scale. With a topic that reaches so far, to every corner of our society, we decided to narrow our radius to that which is in reach. As students at the University of Montana, we want to use research on alienation to open a dialogue on our campus.
We conducted this project in a four-step approach: data collection, interviews, compilation, and finally, presentation. First, we conducted a campus-wide survey using the Euro Model of the Middleton alienation scale, modifying the questions to fit our campus atmosphere and population better. Second, we completed interviews with both UM students and experts from campus and the outer community. Third, we analyzed and compiled the information together. We examined how alienation is present on the UM campus and worked to formulate new ideas to either combat alienation or continue to preserve the inclusive community. And finally, we presented the findings to stakeholders so that they could review our findings and act accordingly to our recommendations in order to benefit our campus community.
Beatrix A. Frissell
1:50 PM - 2:10 PM
Exclusion from outdoor recreation reflects legacies of oppression of marginalized communities and makes access to the outdoors not equally available. In the United States approximately 38% of Black Americans and 48% of Hispanic Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2020. This is compared to 55% participation among Caucasian Americans. Many other intersecting identities are actively excluded, including people with disabilities, fat populations, and members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community; furthermore, class-based hierarchies are shown through the restricted outdoor access of low income populations.
While numerous studies show lack of diversity in outdoor recreation, there has been little to no research conducted on the experience of marginalized groups in higher education settings globally, and at the University of Montana (UM) specifically. The first part of our proposal includes an event inviting outdoor community groups within the Missoula and UM community to connect with students and share their resources. We will also perform an anonymous survey of students at the University of Montana to better understand their experiences with outdoor recreation and the barriers in place. Participants will be asked a series of questions about their recreation experiences and participation with various outdoor groups within the Missoula community. They will also be asked questions relating to the barriers they may face to outdoor participation, with responses including quantitative answers and open-space personal reflections. The main objective of our research is to better understand the experience of and identify the barriers to outdoor recreation for various marginalized groups at the University of Montana, so that we may identify how best to promote community awareness.
2:10 PM - 2:30 PM
Cooking with a Conscience is a local and sustainable cookbook designed to facilitate more sustainable decisions and discussions concerning food in our community. Regarding the initial steps of the creation of the cookbook, our group is conducting a survey and multiple interviews both abroad and in Montana to determine what sustainability means and how sustainability is related to food consumption and production. Our research is also built around finding out people’s current eating habits as well common restrictions that often prevent our community from eating sustainably. We acquired the recipes by both asking local food producers, and by conducting individual research to find what can be made with mostly affordable and local ingredients.
This cookbook was designed to meet people where they are to inspire simple changes and make eating sustainably more doable for everyone. Included are resources about where to source sustainable ingredients, information about growing gardens regardless of available space, and minimizing food waste. Using our research, we compiled a collection of recipes that can be made affordably and sustainably. The recipes in our cookbook vary from snacks to appetizers, and entrees to desserts. Along with this, substitutions for dietary needs and preferences are included with nearly every recipe.