Franke Global Leadership Initiative (GLI) Oral Presentations


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Friday, April 19th
9:00 AM

Local Interactive Food Education (LIFE) Series

Ella Brooks Wilson, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM

Local Interactive Food Education (LIFE) Series

Local food systems are an essential component of creating a robust, sustainable, and resilient community. In the face of climate change, it is even more important to maintain and utilize these resources and networks. We identified numerous barriers to local food access including stigma, comfortability and convenience, lack of transportation, cost, and education about existing resources. Our goal is to connect the Missoula community to local food resources to address access barriers. Missoula has numerous resources that help make local food more accessible, but they struggle to connect with people, which is what we will do with our Local Interactive Food Education (LIFE) Series. The LIFE Series will include four events designed to address the identified barriers. We will host tabling events to break down stigma and create interactions, a bike tour to provide familiarity of the resources, a visit to the PEAS Farm to increase confidence in growing local food, and a trivia night to cultivate knowledge of organizations and local food benefits. The LIFE Series aligns with local organizations’ goals, and we will cooperate with them to ensure their needs are being met. We will measure success by the participation we receive during our events, as well as the connections we form between resources and community members. We will distribute a survey to the participants of our events that will evaluate their experience to determine if the event was successful in removing their personal barriers to food access.

9:30 AM

The CUE Project

McKenna Johnson
Christine Compton
Parker Mickel
Brady Hansen

UC 333

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM

The decline in children's interest in reading for fun is a concerning trend that has persisted since the 1980s. Our group's project, Create, Unite, Evoke (CUE), addresses this issue by leveraging children's curiosity and fascination with foreign cultures and media. Our group designed the CUE Project to excite and create new readers spanning from elementary to high school by developing and teaching two classroom ready lesson plans. For age-appropriate instruction, we split our demographic into two categories. The lesson plan for the younger group, elementary-aged children, focuses on building cross-cultural understanding and recognizing reading as a way to connect with different cultures. The CUE Project has developed a series of workshops relating to international literature and book covers across different countries, such as analyzing why some countries highlight different themes for Harry Potter book covers than others. The lesson plan for the older group, middle through high school-aged children, aims to initiate a connection to different cultures, particularly Japan, through current media trends such as the popularity of Manga. Activities include analyzing why Manga and American comic strips are structured differently, art style comparisons, and a make-your-own-Manga adaptation game. By using older children's preexisting experience and interest in Manga and Anime as a baseline, American students develop the ability to perceive and name tangible differences in culture, values and customs. With perception may come additional investment, hopefully fostering a deeper interest in reading. The benefits of reading for children are numerous --- it strengthens language and critical thinking skills, boosts creativity, and allows for early explorations of contrasting cultures. As Maya Angelou stated, "Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him." Through the CUE Project, we hope to help children form a lifelong love for reading and to inspire them to connect with the world.

10:00 AM

Bridging the Physical Divide: The Effects of Physical Activity on Mental Health Among Adolescents

Ashlin Slanger, University of Montana, Missoula
Keeza Leavens, University of Montana, Missoula
Miya A. Ensley, University of Montana, Missoula
Gavin A. Mikes, University of Montana, Missoula
Haley H. Yarborough, University of Montana, Missoula
Carly Cushman, University of Montana, Missoula
Olivia King, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Bridging the Physical Divide: The Effects of Physical Activity on Mental Health Among Adolescents

¹Carly Cushman, ¹Miya Ensley, ¹Olivia R. King, ¹Keeza Leavens, ¹Gavin Mikes, ¹Ashlin Slanger, ¹Haley Yarborough

¹Franke Global Leadership Initiative, University of Montana

The prevalence of mental health disorders among adolescents is at an all-time high. This trend is significantly exacerbated in demographics living at or below the poverty line. Children in the foster care system are especially susceptible to mental health symptomatology, including deficits in executive functioning and prosocial behaviors. Executive functioning skills are essential to a child’s ability to learn and function at the same level as their peers. Prosocial behaviors are linked to improved cooperation, reduced shyness, and improved social responsibility. Physical activity has been shown to alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression disorders. When practiced in group settings, physical activity can potentially mitigate the social isolation that adolescents experience. Given the therapeutic nature of physical activity, it can be used as a preventative measure to curb the negative trend of mental health, specifically among disadvantaged youth. Unfortunately, youth living at or below the poverty line have less access to sports and physical activity outlets. To address these challenges, our team created the C.U.B.S. club program at the University of Montana to provide organized physical activities for disadvantaged adolescents in group homes. The program aims to bridge the physical activity divide through mentorship, emphasizing team sports and informal settings. Meeting once a week with college student-athlete volunteers, Missoula’s foster youth learn a variety of sports and gain exposure to college mentors. Altogether, this program provides an opportunity to serve this demographic and set them up for future success.

10:45 AM

Voices of Tomorrow: An Interdisciplinary Podcast Exploring Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence

Molly Anne Keller, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

10:45 AM - 11:15 AM

With a considerable rise in the use and development of artificial intelligence (AI) within the past few years, and the increase in general awareness of and investment in AI following the success of ChatGPT and subsequent generative AI platforms, ensuring that accurate information about AI is in public circulation is vital to ensuring its effective and ethical adoption. We, the researchers, have identified a lack of adequate understanding regarding the impact of AI on the general public, specifically as it relates to careers and education. This research project seeks to put together a collection of information including previously performed research and new interviews conducted by the researchers and release it to the public in the form of a short podcast. We believe that for students in particular, knowing what to expect regarding how AI will impact careers in the coming years will help them make decisions related to their chosen majors, careers, and additional education (certificates, etc.) that could provide them with more confidence in their futures. The results of the research will be made available in three capacities: the first will be a presentation to UMCUR. This research is being performed as part of the researchers' capstone course for the Franke GLI program, and all projectes are presented to UMCUR. Second, we will likely publish the results in written form to ScholarWorks. Third, as mentioned previously, and the method considered the primary objective of this project, we will release a short podcast to the public.

11:15 AM

Age, Loneliness, and Culture: Fostering Intergenerational Connections

Clara Totman, University of Montana, Missoula
Amelia Hawes, University of Montana, Missoula
Maddy Snow, University of Montana, Missoula
Zach Craig, University of Montana, Missoula
Holly Mahon, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

11:15 AM - 11:45 AM

When considering global health issues, physical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or COVID-19 are often regarded as the most pressing threats. However, a growing body of research indicates that loneliness is an exponentially increasing risk to holistic wellbeing worldwide. According to a 2020 study by Cigna Health Insurance Group, three in five Americans reported feeling lonely, removed from social connection, and lacking companionship (Demarinis, 2020). In his landmark 2023 report on loneliness, United States Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy argued that chronic loneliness is “as detrimental to our physical health as smoking fifteen cigarettes per day.” While no age group is immune to loneliness, the elderly and young adults experience higher rates of loneliness than other age groups. As a population, the elderly are especially isolated due to physical limitations and psychological deterioration through diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, and overall fear and stigma of death and the aging process by the general populace (Kane, 2021). Loneliness also varies across cultures, as many cultures worldwide place a different level of importance on maintaining community. Our research thus investigates loneliness in connection with age and culture, with particular focus on the elderly, who are an underserved age group in loneliness research and interventions. Our review of the literature revealed that loneliness interventions which facilitated group activities and learning experiences for participants successfully reduced loneliness, at least in the short term. Furthermore, insights provided through conversations with Missoula Aging Services revealed that ageism may contribute to loneliness among our local population, and that intergenerational loneliness interventions may help reduce ageism and the loneliness associated with it. These findings indicate the potential for reducing loneliness among members of our community through participation in intergenerational, collaborative experiences and conversation around the topics of aging and loneliness. To address this issue, we partnered with Missoula Aging Services and held four events at local senior residences that consisted of a focus group, in which we facilitated conversations around loneliness and aging, followed by group activities which encouraged participants of all ages to engage together. We administered entry and exit surveys to gauge growth in attitudes around loneliness and intergenerational friendship, with the end goal of encouraging members of our community to spend more time seeking connection with each other.

11:45 AM

Creating Community: Developing an Online Resources for Outdoor Involvement among Children with Disabilities

Jane M. Rooney, University of Montana, Missoula
Carli A. Cebulla, University of Montana, Missoula
Abigail R. Boislard, University of Montana, Missoula
Hannah L. Davis, University of Montana, Missoula
Cayley C. Norman, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

11:45 AM - 12:15 PM

Children with disabilities face more difficulties participating in outdoor recreation compared to their peers due to a variety of barriers, including institutional, social, and physical. Though these children face more challenges with outdoor recreation, it remains vital to child development and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Our project aims to address this issue by creating a website that compiles accessibility resources; organizations are already doing the footwork for inclusion, and our website will enable families to seek these resources on one consolidated platform. We plan to interview organizations that support children and youth with disabilities, including the Child Development Center, Missoula Circle of Parents, Community Children’s, Special Education Program, The Arc, Aware Program, MonTECH, and Wheels Across Montana. The information gained from interviews on what methods best support the engagement of children with disabilities in outdoor activities will be published on our website. Our website's stewardship and long-term legacy will be passed onto these partner organizations, so they have a platform to promote the community support they provide in the future. By spreading awareness of what is available in Missoula, our group hopes not only that families living with disabilities will utilize this information but also that we can promote advocacy amongst the entire community for accessible outdoor recreation.

1:00 PM

Tackling Human Trafficking in Missoula: Raising Awareness and Providing Resources

Megan Fatourous
Alexa Schneider
Kersey Michele Blackford
Adam Kolokotrones
Danielle Hoyer
sandee sepulveda

UC 333

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Human trafficking is a violation of human rights tantamount to modern-day slavery. Between 2015 and 2021, the Montana Department of Justice discovered an 871 percent increase in tracked human trafficking instances (MT Dept. of Justice, 2023). Trafficking affects an estimated 25 million people worldwide and yields an estimated annual profit of $150 billion; not only does it transcend international borders, but it also impacts vulnerable groups.

After conducting in-person interviews and researching available literature, we found there is a need for further education and support for victims in our local community. We propose a service project that entails raising awareness in the Missoula community as well as providing resources to victims. Specifically, we propose to create short informational flyers with “red flags” that may indicate abusive relationships or human trafficking in a relationship, as well as information about local resources in Missoula available to victims, such as contact information for counseling services or further support from organizations like the YWCA. Beyond simply raising awareness and education on this issue, our group would like to do something tangible to aid local victims. Accordingly, we would like to create supply bags for survivors after hosting a drive on campus. These supply bags would include clothes and hygiene products that would be delivered to the YWCA or the Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) for distribution to victims in need of support as they come forward.

1:30 PM

What Goes Around Comes Around

Roger Moore, University of Montana, Missoula
Nina Vermolen, University of Montana, Missoula
Mannix Shaffer, University of Montana, Missoula
Jaiden Stansberry, University of Montana, Missoula
Carson Cronk, University of Montana, Missoula
Carson Brandt, University of Montana, Missoula
Elena Bigart, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

What Goes Around Comes Around

Climate change is a prevalent issue affecting every individual globally. There are many

factors that increase of greenhouse gases, including textile waste. Textiles can have an

extended lifetime, but are often discarded once unwanted or outgrown. One solution to mitigate the negative global impacts of textiles is to apply the circular economy and reuse clothing. Our project not only focuses on defining the circular economy and its implementation, but also highlights waste management, campus sustainability, and education awareness. This project aims to discover how the University of Montana can implement the circular economy in its student communities to raise awareness and reduce students’ environmental impact through waste.

To answer these questions, our group is initiating an accessible thrift-closet on campus. We will conduct a Google Survey among students to gauge interest and need for items in their campus life. Additionally, we will interview professionals to gain understanding of successful implementation for the project. The results from this research will help better meet student needs around textile waste and be a voice towards the broader impact of the circular economy. The closet will include areas for item exchange, as well as an information board educating individuals on the circular economy and the scope of the project. We hope to support and improve students’ sustainability on campus by creating an accessible thrift-closet to practice the circular economy through the reuse of textiles, which will reduce textile waste on a local level and globally reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2:00 PM

Addressing issues in global food systems contributing to food injustice and waste on a local level in Missoula, MT

Jocelyn Stansberry, University of Montana, Missoula
Gabriella Adams, University of Montana, Missoula
Rianna Bowers, University of Montana, Missoula
Abbe Feilzer, University of Montana, Missoula
Devin Jacaruso, University of Montana, Missoula
Olivia Lackland Henry, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 333

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Food waste and insecurity are two of the most pressing issues of our time. We, as a planet, produce more food than necessary-- enough to feed the entire global population and then some. Yet, millions of people still struggle to find reliable access to food due to inefficient distribution within our global systems. As people face the incredible struggle of starvation and malnourishment produced, in part, by these global systems, they often are forced to notice the lack of meaningful support from within their communities, separating those in need from those that could help. Food waste and community resilience are deeply interconnected issues with acute local impacts as well as strong ties to global systems. To establish a comprehensive understanding of this relationship and its significance for people in our own community, we hosted three workshops focusing on culture and place-based relationships with food, minimizing individual food waste, and urban gardening. Through these workshops we examined the local context of food waste and the relationship between food waste and community resilience, and connected mutual aid organizations through Missoula to strengthen the resiliency of our community.