“See Something, Say Something”: CJM Intern Participates in State Police Video

By Kim Charbonneau

This past summer, Criminal Justice Management major Jeff Perez ’18 had the opportunity to intern with the Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosives Unit. While he was there, the department worked on a Public Service Announcement video, and asked the interns to participate. Jeff was excited to take part in creating such an important message about the role of public vigilance in identifying terrorist threats. The video features interns and others in dramatizations of different scenarios, and offers tips on what the public should look for and do if they see something suspicious.

VIDEO LINK

Here is how Jeff describes his experiences at his internship:

I chose the degree of Criminal Justice Management, because it is a standout program that allows only the best to be a part of it. The chair of the department is Professor Kimberly Charbonneau and she does an outstanding job on the curriculum and how students need to act and present themselves. Professor Charbonneau prepares use to be able to walk out of Nichols College and be ready to jump right into the work force of law enforcement. As part of the curriculum, we are required to participate in an internship. For your internship grade, you must complete 120 hours and write a ten-page paper as well as two case studies.

I did my internship with the Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit. I started in May 2016 and ended August 2016. I worked over 200 hours and it was an incredible experience. I had the opportunity to participate in a safety video for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division. The Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad, which was the unit I was attached to, was making a video that would show the workers of the Highway Division how to handle a suspicious package if they came across one. My role in the video was to play a suspect that was able to plant a suspicious device on a bridge. It was a great experience to work the members of the Bomb Squad and understand how dangerous their jobs actually are every day.

I fully believe that having an internship gives you the upper hand. It gives you real-life experience and confirms on whether or not you want to actually go into that specific field. The time that I was able to spend with the Massachusetts State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit was an unbelievable experience and confirmed that I want to work in law enforcement

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Allied Social Science Annual Meeting, January 6-8, 2017

By Kalpana Khanal, PhD

During the first weekend of January I had the opportunity to attend and present at Allied Social Science Association’s (ASSA) annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. ASSA is one of the most important and premiere events to expose your work to colleagues and hear about the latest research in the field of economics. Economists from around the world take advantage of this unique opportunity to share, collaborate, and learn from each other. This year over 13,300 economists were assembled to network and celebrate new achievements in economic research.

I was especially excited about the conference because my paper was accepted for presentation at the Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE) session for the first time. AFEE is an international organization of economists and other social scientists devoted to analysis of economics as evolving, socially constructed and politically governed systems. The intellectual heritage of AFEE is that of the Original Institutional Economics (OIE) created and developed by early twentieth-century economists such as Thorstein Veblen, John R. Commons, and Wesley Mitchell. In recent decades, this legacy has evolved to address contemporary issues such as:

  • The role of diverse cultures in economic performance
  • Domestic and international inequalities of income
  • The roles of social, economic and political power in shaping economic outcomes
  • Globalization and the increasing weight of multinational corporations in the international economy
  • The need for expanding use of modern technologies to relieve want
  • The urgent need for awareness of the impact of new technology on the biosphere
  • The ways in which economic thought is affected by and affects always-changing economics

This year’s theme was, “The Vested Interests and the Common People: Power, Policy and Institutions in the 21st Century,” taking its cue from Veblen’s 1920 essay, “The Vested Interests and the Common Man.” In it, he argues, the ownership of property in large holdings now controls the nation’s industry, and therefore it controls the conditions of life for those who are or who wish to be engaged in industry; at the same time, the same ownership of large wealth controls the markets and thereby controls the conditions of life for those who have to resort to the markets to sell or to buy (Thorstein, Veblen, The Vested Interests and the Common Man, 1920, pp. 159-160). He goes on to refer to, “massive interests that move obscurely in the background of the market”, while for the common man, “[a] pious regard for the received code of right and honest living holds him to a submissive quietism, a make-believe of self-help and fair dealings”

In 2016, Veblen’s ideas are still relevant as the global economy continues to face similar issues. In the aftermath of the great recession, income inequality has gone up. The concentration of wealth and power in the last decade has reached levels not seen in almost a century. The financialization of the economy and of politics also limits the ability of common people to make any change for themselves and for society. In this conference, different panels were put together to answer some of the questions below:

  • To what extent can effective policies and robust civil society institutions counter the power of the vested interests?
  • What are the main problems besieging, not only today’s common man, but also today’s work force in all of its diversity?
  • In short, what are the most profound problems facing the modern globalized economy and how can institutional economics contribute to resolving these problems?

presentationThe scholars in my panel tried to extend the notion of vested interests to developing economies. It was a privilege, as a junior faculty, to be in this panel with experts in the field of international economics. The tile of the paper I presented is “Extending the Notion of Vested Interest to International Relations between Nepal-India.” The motivation for this paper comes from a trade embargo imposed by India on Nepal in the aftermath of massive earthquake that occurred in April 2011.

One interesting fact that came to my attention during the embargo was that, it was not the first of its kind. I sensed that there must be some role of “vested interests” both on the Nepali side and Indian side, which systematically caused embargoes to happen time and again. The main objective of my paper is to identify and analyze various “vested interests” within Nepal and India in economic, political and natural resource spheres. The first section of my paper provides a historical context to India-Nepal diplomatic relations. The second section sheds some light on the role of vested interests in various spheres of Nepal and India’s international relationship. The third section offers some new directions both countries should consider to break the vicious cycle of mistrust and to resolve existing disputes between the two countries.

DespainDuring the conference, I also had an opportunity to attend my colleague Hans Despain’s panel discussion session. It was a joint session organized by Union of Radical Political Economics and American Economic Association. Professor Despain was in the same panel with some well-known names in economics field. Among others, Anwar Shaikh (New School), William Lazonick (UMass-Lowell), Deirdre McCloskey (University of Illinois-Chicago), Larry Summers (Harvard economics professor and former treasury secretary), and Bradford Delong (UC Berkeley) were in the panel.

In this panel, Professor Despain did an amazing job presenting his seminal work on secular stagnation. Highlighting the main underpinnings of Monopoly-finance capital theory, he discussed how this approach is a far more advantageous theoretical position than Mainstream Ideas of Secular Stagnation Theory in terms of explaining the dysfunctions of social development.

henry2I also had an opportunity to attend a luncheon in honor of one of my dissertation advisors, professor John F. Henry, for receiving the Veblen-Commons Award. It is an award given in recognition of the contributions made by an outstanding scholar in the field of evolutionary institutional economics. Some of the past recipients include Gunnar Myrdal (1975), John K. Galbraith (1976), and Robert Heilbroner (1994).

Additionally, I was privileged to speak with Bucknell University professor Geoff Schneider in person. He is a director of the Learning Center at Bucknell, where he helps new faculty members begin their Bucknell careers. He shared his insights and pedagogical approach related to how to get students into group discussions that are rich, how to punctuate your lectures with thought-provoking questions, and how to do things that will keep your students actively engaged in the course material.

Overall, the conference was very beneficial and provided multiple opportunities. First, I was able to present my research and get feedback from experts in the field. Second, I was able to attend several presentations and panel discussions in the areas of my teaching and research interests. Third, I was able to network with scholars who shared their insights both on research and teaching. I feel motivated to start the New Year with a passion to grow as a teaching and research scholar.

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Communication Convention: Reflections Big and Small

by Jean Beaupre

badgeIn November, I had the privilege of attending the National Communication Association’s (NCA) annual convention for the first time. Held in Philadelphia, this year’s convention’s theme was “Civic Callings,” designed to encourage scholars and practitioners to deeply examine the role communication plays in our society. There was an amazing selection of workshops and presentations to choose from, with hundreds of participants of varying experience levels in attendance. Below are some highlights of the convention’s primary themes from my perspective.

Communication and the Election: The convention kicked off the day after the historic presidential election, providing many topics for discussion and dissection related to communication. It was certainly the talk of the convention, with many of the speakers stating that they had altered their planned presentations in light of the surprising election results. In several sessions, presenters examined the election through the lens of communication theory. A commonly mentioned concept was confirmation bias, or the tendency to seek out and give credence only to information that aligns with one’s pre-existing beliefs. In one performance, three seasoned scholars used only content pulled from the internet (both fake and real news, as well as social media) in a rapid-fire format to illustrate the role of media in the election. In addition, protests held on the streets of IMG_5555IMG_5557 (1)central Philadelphia were right outside the convention hall. I walked over to see, and found a large, loud, but peaceful crowd holding up signs and banners, observers filming and photographing, as well as local television stations. The scene was a vivid, tangible representation of how communication can be deployed, through interpersonal means, social media, and mass media.

Communication and Activism: One of the more fascinating sessions of the convention offered presentations by several leading social justice scholar-activists. Citing statistics on the increase in hate groups and hate speech, they underscored how communication is not benign — it has the potential to do both harm and good. They discussed the role of the IMG_0222scholarly community in helping to understand the role of communication in society, as well as the opportunity to actively contribute to its positive deployment. As part of that session and as an example of communication activism, a local activist group staged a “die-in” which was powerful to witness, also covered by the local news.

Communication and Teaching: Naturally, a significant portion of the convention was devoted to the practice of teaching. Some presenters tackled the bigger picture, providing exemplars of the development and assessment of program learning outcomes. Others offered their experiences with specific assignments and activities. I was able to exchange ideas with someone who uses a mock press conference assignment similar to mine, see several different approaches to the senior portfolio, and hear how one teacher is using podcasts to examine listening skills. Other pedagogical concepts presented included group communication, language, communication leadership, public speaking, and more.

Overall, it was an eye-opening and useful experience. I left with an increased appreciation for the breadth of the field of communication, as well as some potentially actionable concepts for Communication courses. As I have heard from many of my fellow faculty, conferences can be illuminating, energizing, and motivating. It is beneficial to check in the latest developments and focus areas in your field, as well as to make connections and bring back new ideas to the classroom.

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Global CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) Forum in Montreal, Canada

By Allison McDowell-Smith, PhD

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University recently organized a forum on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). According to UN Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Mr. Adama Dieng, “Intolerance is on the rise. The continuous human rights violations in Syria, the heinous attacks in Paris and Brussels and the increasing number of foreign fights traveling to join terrorist organizations, are forcing the world to address the threat violent extremism poses”. The spread of violence used as a way to achieve ideological, religious, and political goals is increasing and the “rules of the game are rapidly changing” (MIGS).

The objective of the MIGS conference was to foster a public debate on countering violent extremism. The two-day public policy conference was open to the public, specifically students and professionals working within fields related to violent extremism. Topics of discussion included the following:

  • The role of ideology and religion
  • Key actors engagement in CVE: youth, religious leaders and women
  • The role of private actors in CVE: internet and social media companies and violent extremism
  • Radicalization and the internet/social media
  • The role of traditional media in CVE
  • Law enforcement: balancing state security, human rights and civil liberties (online privacy)
  • Local, regional and global CVE initiatives
  • Online initiatives to counter violent extremism
  • Counter-narrative strategies

Photo credit @MIGSInstitute

I was personally invited to speak on the counter-narrative research I have been working on with Dr. Anne Speckhard with the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). Through ICSVE we are working on the ISIS Defectors Interviews Project. Over the last seven months, we have been collecting interviews for the ISIS Defectors Interview Project and have interviewed thus far thirty-two Syrian ISIS defectors, including fighters, commanders, guards, and hisbah (ISIS police). Women and children were also among those interviewed. The objective of our research is to create compelling short video clips and Internet memes that strongly denounce ISIS and create a powerful counter-narrative for the purpose of disrupting the prolific and successful online recruitment of ISIS, especially among vulnerable youth.

Photo credit @MIGSInstitute

At the MIGS Conference, I was able to present our current research and display two of our videos to the audience. Our research was well received and we received offers to continue our research with various partners both within the U.S. and Canada. Further, I was asked to be part of the third day of the conference titled “The North American Working Group to Counter Violent Extremism”. This session was “closed” to the public and brought together for the first time leading experts, academics, diplomats, government officials and civil society leaders from the US and Canada to cooperatively formulate strategies on countering online extremism. Upon the conclusion of our working group, MIGS has taken the initiative to establish research-based recommendations and guidelines for use by policymakers, government and non-government agencies, security services, civil society groups, and the private sector. This research report will be disseminated within the United States and Canada in the upcoming month.

Photo credit @MIGSInstitute

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Nichols College Polling Project — The 2016 Presidential Election

by Erika Smith, PhD and Nick Gorgievski, PhD

The Project

When I first joined the faculty at Nichols College in the fall of 2014, Prof. Nick Gorgievski was assigned as my faculty mentor. Over the last two years Nick and I met to talk about our work at the College, our classes, our relative successes in fantasy football, and our shared passions for teaching in our disciplines, mathematics and political science respectively. We often speculated about the possibility of linking up two courses or developing a new course as a co-teaching opportunity. Advances in statistical theory and methods create new opportunities for the analysis of quantitative and qualitative social science data in fields such as political science, where researchers can apply statistical frameworks in the study of democracy and the relationship between people and policy, at all levels up from the individual to a national and international level.

The release of the fall 2016 schedules presented a unique opportunity. The Registrar assigned both my PSCI 204, “Introduction to Political Science” course and Nick’s MATH 215, “Statistics” course at 8:00A on Thursday mornings in neighboring classrooms in the Academic Building. How could we not take advantage of this great coincidence? (Thanks, Betin!)

I planned to incorporate a significant unit on electoral politics in my PSCI course with the corresponding national, state, and local elections occurring in November. As part of a larger Voter Education Project (V.E.P.) initiated with Director of Student Involvement, Brian Quinlan, we narrowed down the project to a public opinion poll of Nichols College students, staff, and faculty. Although the college had conducted public opinion polls during past elections, this would be the first time the project would be student-driven, a key goal for engagement in the campus-wide V.E.P. Students in PSCI 204 spent class time analyzing polling methods, questions, and data from major statistical agencies such as the Roper Center, Pew Researcher Center, and Gallup. They composed a list of questions regarding political ideology and beliefs (attitudinal), political preferences (engagement), candidates, and basic demographic information and presented the survey to Nick’s MATH class. Using online survey software, students from PSCI recruited members of the Nichols College campus community to complete the survey with the goal of gathering a representative sample.

The Results

The online survey opened October 20th and closed on Tuesday, October 25th. We employed a mixed methods sampling approach, first using a convenience sample, opening our survey up to our Math 215 and our PSCI 204 courses. Then, we used a simple random sample approach by sharing the survey with the students, faculty, staff, administration and etc. of the college by way of e-mail. These results were made available Nick’s MATH course to analyze the results from a statistical perspective. The demographics of the survey are as follows:

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 5.08.45 PMThe survey included a representative sample of political ideologies, with most respondents identifying themselves as political “moderates.” This is perhaps an over-representation of political moderation compared to the American population at large. Americans’ political ideology remained essentially stable over the last year, with conservatives retaining the barest of advantages over moderates in Americans’ self-identified political views, 37% vs. 35%. Liberals held firm at 24%.[1]

If you were to stop and question an American off of the street at random, it’s more likely that he or she would identify as an independent than as a Democrat or a Republican. In recent analyses by Gallup and other polling outlets, 42% of Americans identify as independent, compared with 29% who say they are Democrats and 26% who say they are Republicans[2]. When independents are pressed with follow up questions, most independents lean toward one party or the other — and in 2012, the majority of those leaning independents voted for their preferred party’s presidential candidate. According to the book The Gamble, 90% of Democratic-leaning independents backed Obama in 2012, and 78% of Republican-leaning ones backed Romney.[3]

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 5.13.40 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Engagement

Participants in the survey reported that they felt generally well-informed about politics and current events (61.62%), with most respondents receiving their information from internet or web-based sources (61.51%). This corresponds with recent studies published by the American Press Institute[4] and political polling outlets[5]. Researchers studying political communication note that more Americans are obtaining political news from social media. In fact, Pew Research Center reported that about half (51%) of social networking users learned about the presidential election from these sites.[6]

Participants in the survey reported engaging in politics in a variety of ways, including engaging in conversation about politics (81.52%), watching television shows that feature political stories (74.64%), voting (59.78%), listening to political media on the radio (49.28%), and sharing stories about politics on social media (43.12%). In a recent study of civic engagement, political scientists at The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement suggest Millennial students are a generation of college students who have a great deal of experience with volunteering, and who believe in their obligation to work together with others on a variety of social issues.[7]

Over 80% of respondents in our survey reported that they are registered to vote, and 92.63% of respondents stated they believe voting is somewhat important, if not very important. A majority (75.44%) indicated they plan to vote in the November 8th election, with a number of those individuals (36.97%) being first-time voters.

Political Attitudes

The survey included issue-focused questions on contemporary political questions regarding decriminalization of marijuana, enhanced interrogation, gun ownership, privacy, student debt, climate change, economic issues, healthcare, immigration, and voting rights. In most cases, the attitudes of Nichols College participants mirrored those reflected in larger opinion polls of the American public.

We also paired a series of questions designed to address issues related to gender equity, including the topics of equal pay, paid family leave, and the election of women to higher office. The results were as follows:

 

According to recent polls commissioned by American Women, the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Rockefeller Family Fund, most Americans support equal pay for women, workplace flexibility through paid sick and family leave and raising the minimum wage.[8] We find similar attitudes on our campus:

  • A majority support laws requiring equal pay (91.21%) and paid family leave (86.08%).
  • A majority believe a woman is equally qualified to be President of the United States (92.86%).
  • A majority expressed a willingness to vote for a woman candidate (88.93%).

Separate from the issues noted above, the survey question, “Q9. Generally speaking, do you think the country is going in the right direction?” generated a strong response from participants (chart below):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This closely mirrored an October 2016 Rasmussen Report, indicating that only 31% of Americans say the U.S. is “heading in the right direction.”[9] Most studies examining public attitudes about government and politics argue that these results defy easy categorization, so we attempted to analyze this data across variables available in our study. First, a two-way contingency table analysis of “Gender” and “Direction” revealed no significant relationship.

A second two-way contingency table analysis was conducted to evaluate whether political ideology differences exist on the perceptions of the direction of our country. Political Ideology and direction were found to be significantly related.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the table above indicates, among all ideological categories, those individuals who self-identified as “Liberal” had a generally more positive outlook on the question of “Direction.” Using the Holm’s sequential Bonferroni method for controlling Type I error, significant differences were found between those who consider themselves to be “Liberal” and attitudes on whether the country was moving in the right direction.

Similarly, a two-way contingency table analysis was conducted to evaluate whether differences exist between perceptions of the “Direction” of our country and “Age” of respondent. They were, in fact, significantly related.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the table above indicates, those in the age-bracket of “18-24” reported (70.4%) that they did not believe the country is heading in the right direction, while half of those “25 and older” (50.0%) reported similar feelings.

2016 Candidates

Participants in the NCPP were asked, “Q12. If the 2016 presidential election was being held today, for whom would you vote?” Responses are depicted in the table below.

Clinton received 33.69% of the respondents’ votes, followed closely by Donald Trump with 25.45%. Many respondents still identified themselves as “Undecided” (15.77%). We chose to explore support for the candidates across variables available in our study, such as “Gender,” “Age,” and “Political Ideology.”

Analysts believe that critical voting blocs of women in the electorate—including millennial women, women of color, and unmarried women—will be a force in the 2016 election. In examining the relationship between “Gender” and candidate preference, a two-way contingency table analysis revealed statistical differences among men and women.

Using the Holm’s sequential Bonferroni method for controlling Type I error, we find significant differences with respect to gender for selection of the two major party candidates. Of those who prefer the Democratic candidate, 70% were female, while those who prefer the Republican candidate, 66.7% were male.

With respect to “Age,” we also found differences in candidate preferences. A two-way contingency table analysis revealed statistically significant results.

Using the Holm’s sequential Bonferroni method for controlling Type I error, significant differences were found in preferences expressed for the two major party candidates. Of those who prefer the Democratic candidate, 51.6% were 25 and older, while those who prefer the Republican candidate, 86.8% were 18 to 24.

The Experience

The statistical analyses presented above represent a small slice of what data from the 46 questions allow us to study. Even more relevant, Nick and I share the common goal of demonstrating to our students that what we teach them in the classroom has application in the “real world.” Students see these connections more easily with business-related subjects such as marketing, accounting, or management, to name a few. But this specific project in the context of the 2016 election provides us with an avenue to use the information and skills we’re developing in the classroom in a meaningful way. Students gain practical experience researching and evaluating polling data, crafting questions and administering original public opinion polls, and interpreting polling results through the application of course themes and content in our political science course.

Likewise, students enrolled in the MATH 215 course are able to analyze the data using descriptive statistics, which includes frequency tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Additionally, although outside the scope of this introductory statistics course, the students are also exposed to nonparametric statistical methods such as Pearson’s chi-square test. This exposure enhances their ability to understand the parametric techniques that we cover in class, such as confidence intervals and hypothesis testing.

By combining our complimentary fields and courses in the Nichols College Polling Project, we are creating innovative connections that cross disciplinary boundaries, where students can utilize skills from multiple perspectives to solve complex problems. The students are able to apply analytical frameworks or methods of analysis from multi-disciplines to the study of questions and controversies relevant to their campus, their community, and their individual interests.

Because the project is focused on a general presidential election, subsequent public policy, and civic engagement, it forces students to evaluate issues relevant to contemporary global society, including cultural awareness, social responsibility, and diversity. Thus, our work is supporting the College mission to prepare students to “articulate an understanding and appreciation of cultural and human differences … one’s social and civic responsibility to the community, the nation and the world.”

For us, the biggest surprise of the project has been the level of engagement by students and faculty not directly related to the course. Within the first 48 hours of launching, our survey received nearly 250 responses – that’s overwhelming on a campus that has roughly 1200 students. We are delighted to see how these types of projects can actually engage the whole campus, let alone students in our two courses.

Nick and I will continue to reflect on the student learning experience in our PSCI and MATH courses, as well as the process of designing this type of a course-based, linked project. The greatest challenge might be discovering what will we do for our next endeavor; how can we craft a similarly engaging project outside of an election year? How do we “top” this?

As champion for the new Interdisciplinary Studies program, I hope to encourage collaboration, coursework, and unique study opportunities that promote student awareness and abilities relevant to the global economy, including cultural awareness, social responsibility, and diversity. As an institution of higher learning, we want to continue promoting pedagogies that are relevant, experiential, and supportive of student outcomes. The Nichols College Polling Project provides just one example of how these types of endeavors can inspire and engage faculty and students, fostering greater integration and collaboration across the curriculum in the context of two seemingly-unrelated courses.

[1] Lydia Saad, “Conservatives hang On to Ideology by a Thread.” GALLUP. 11 January 2016. http://www.gallup.com/poll/188129/conservatives-hang-ideology-lead-thread.aspx Results are based on aggregated telephone interviews from 15 separate Gallup polls conducted in 2015, with a random sample of 12,137 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.
[2] Philip Bump, “The growing myth of the ‘independent’ voter.” The Washington Post. 11 January 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/11/independents-outnumber-democrats-and-republicans-but-theyre-not-very-independent/; Jeffrey M. Jones, “Democrat, Republican Identification Near Historical Lows.” GALLUP. 11 January 2016. http://www.gallup.com/poll/188096/democratic-republican-identification-near-historical-lows.aspx?g_source=Politics&g_medium=newsfeed&g_campaign=tiles.
[3] John Sides and Lynn Vavreck, The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
[4] “How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation.” American Press Institute. 16 March 2015. https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-news/single-page/
[5] Jeffrey Gottfried and Michael Barthel, “How Millennials’ political news habits differ from those of Gen Xers and baby Boomers.” Pew Research Center. 1 June 2015. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/01/political-news-habits-by-generation/
[6] Jeffrey Gottfried, et al. “The 2016 Presidential Campaign – a News Event That’s Hard to Miss.” Pew Research Center. 4 February 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/02/04/the-2016-presidential-campaign-a-news-event-thats-hard-to-miss/
[7] Abby Kiesa et. al, “Millennials Talk Politics: A Study of College Student Political Engagement.” The Center for Information and Research on Civic Engagement. 2006. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED498899.pdf
[8] “Women and the 2016 Elections.” American Women. 19 September 2016. http://www.americanwomen.org/research
[9] “Right Direction or Wrong Track.” Rasmussen Reports. 31 October 2016. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/right_direction_wrong_track_oct31 The national telephone survey of 2,500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports from October 23-27, 2016. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 2 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
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Erin and Erika Write an Essay

by Erin Casey-Williams, PhD

Sometime in late January of 2016, the always enterprising Erika Cornelius Smith, PhD, was scrolling through a list serve and came across one call-for-papers on Monsters and Monstrosity in 21st-Century Film and Television, which she sent to me. At the time, I was teaching a SEM 115/Current Issues Symposium called “Zombie Evolutions” that trained students how to write authoritatively about their research of a particular theme—in this case, zombie films and criticism of the 20th century.

movieposterAround the same time, Burr Steers film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 “literary mashup,” came to theaters. Excited by the prospect of the essay, Erika and I coordinated a Cultural Credit event and escorted students of both zombie- and Austen-studies to see the film in theaters. It was a perfect storm of classroom inquiry intersecting with scholarly interest.

prideprepride-and-prejudicebookI had never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (sacrilege for an English professor, I know), so Erika became the literature and history guru while I functioned as the zombie and film sage. We read Austen’s novel, as well as Grahame-Smith’s mash-up, and together watched the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (starring Colin Firth as the genre-defining Mr. Darcy). Eventually, we submitted an abstract on zombies, history, and the intersection of gender and class in the most recent film adaptation; the name of our proposed paper was “Twice Dead: Gender, Class, and Crisis in PP + Z.” (See below for the abstract.)

The process of writing the abstract—and integrating Erika’s with my perspective—was challenging: Erika wrote the first version, which I tried to incorporate in an additional three drafts (the word limit of 300 didn’t help). We settled on one version that represented both our interests and expertise and submitted it; we were emailed an acceptance several weeks later, at the end of May.

Erika jumpstarted the research process in the early summer (once grades were in, and everyone had rested for a week or so), examining British Regency attitudes toward individuals who did not fit neatly into the imagined nation-state (like immigrants or zombies), and how such views haunted both Austen’s novel and Steer’s film. I studied major theories regarding gender in film studies, and considered how the portrayal of zombies was both similar to and different from the treatment of women in traditional horror films. At the end of June, we began drafting the paper, bringing together our understandings of history, theory, literature, and film.

Over the summer, we got together a few times a week for multiple hours to trade research, brainstorm ideas, and outline our argument. We traded drafts through email and Google docs; by the end of July we were proofreading and perfecting our arguments and we emailed the final version by the deadline of August 1st (with a whole three hours to spare). On August 19th, just as we were preparing for a new fall semester, we received email confirmation that our essay had been accepted without any required revisions for the collection.

Ultimately, this project provided an opportunity to collaborate on areas of mutual interest—gender and nationhood—while allowing each of us to bring her unique strengths and areas of expertise to the discussion. Composing an essay with another person can present logistical and ideological challenges to anyone (especially those English scholars so used to working alone), but is a tremendously valuable experience that strengthens the bonds of collegiality and friendship.

 

Paper abstract

Proposed Essay Abstract: “Twice Dead: Gender, Class, and Crisis in PP+Z”
Drs. Erin Casey-Williams and Erika Cornelius Smith

Following Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s theses that monsters appear at sites of cultural crisis and enable “the formation of all kinds of identities,” we propose a critical analysis of the recent Pride and Prejudice + Zombies (2016) that allows insight into the class-, gender-, and national-politics of our culture. While many studies of zombie films attend to either class or gender, our work explores the intersection of these two crisis areas as evidenced by PP+Z (2016). The use of zombies in this film to disrupt canonical literary and historical texts allows insight into contemporary American anxieties regarding migration/immigration, the militarized state, and the role of gender and the family in stabilizing culture.

We begin by scrutinizing how gender and labor issues pervade the zombie film cannon, from Halperin’s White Zombie (1932) to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) to Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2005). We will then consider how PP+Z fits into and departs from both this cinematic legacy and its historical origins. We will examine the film’s debt to Austen’s novel and its context of industrialization in Regency England, specifically the mechanization of individuals in factory labor and subsequent demonstrations of Luddite protestors (a precursor to labor strikes). We will then examine to what degree the film’s portrayal of the Bennet sisters problematizes traditional understandings of women as monstrous abjection existing on the threshold of nation, politics, and culture. Following a decade of particularly heightened social fears and apocalyptic anxieties, our analysis of PP+Z demonstrates how the zombie at the turn of the millennium directly reflects contemporary American fears: of migration, of authority, and of the collapse of social order.

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A Summer Journey into the European Union: Some Reflections

By Karol Gil-Vasquez

After a semester marked by a great faculty-led trip to Greece, I had the great opportunity this summer to pack my suitcase and board several planes to visit, once again, the historical, beautiful, and troubled lands of the European Union. This time, although the flight was a little shorter, the entire journey was longer.  My destinations, despite their proximity to one another, were worlds apart from each other: Spain and Norway.

This summer trip was not only a great opportunity for professional and scholarly development, by connecting with former colleagues and friends, but also a magnificent learning experience to panoramically observe the political transformations taking place across the Western Hemisphere. After all, following the mantra of the globalized world we live in, one could agree that the world is more connected than ever; technology has allowed us to disseminate pretty much anything we want to distant parts of the world through a simple stroke on a keyboard. However, we must be mindful that the world is not only sharing the benefits that accompany a market, but also, the political challenges involved in free trade.  Specifically, there are disputes that have to do with the free flows of labor, an economic term linked to the immigration and refugee crises, and controversial topics raised by ongoing political debates in the EU and the US.

Bilbao, Spain
BasqueUniversityIn Spain, I attended the Association for Social Economics 13th Summer School organized by the University of Basque Country’s Department of Economics. The program included seminars and sessions on theoretical themes. Personal conversations with former colleagues and the ASE school’s participants focused on Brexit, Trump, the Spanish and Greek crises. According to economics professors from the University of Leeds, the Brexit debate took an unexpected turn that placed immigrant workers as well as refugees at the center of Britain’s political debate. Our exchanges shared the surprise at how the global financial crisis has not been directly identified by the British government, let alone British citizens, as the engine behind British economic debacle and the social instability experienced by the European Union right after the collapse of the banking industry in 2008.

Bilbao, Spain is located in the province of Biscay within the autonomous community of the Basque Country, in the north central part of Spain. A relatively young city when compared to other Spanish destinations, Bilbao is located a short driving distance from the Cantabria region, known for its peculiar Basque culture and mysterious deep-blue ocean. A vibrant and artistic metropolis, Bilbao allows tourists to contemplate historical and modern works of architecture, the Guggenheim Museum being one of its emblems. The city’s scenery is harmonious and elegant, adorned by streets portraying expensive retail stores, Starbucks, and neat architectural sanctuaries that for a moment, make it difficult to believe that Spain has one of the EU’s highest unemployment and poverty rates after Greece. As of 2016, the Spanish economy has a 20 percent unemployment rate, the rates increases to 45 percent among youth, and 20 percent of its population is at risk of destitution.

SpainEuropeanUnion While walking through these streets, I saw middle-aged men requesting diapers and formula for their infant children while sitting right outside of the luxurious stores that put a real picture to the staggering economics statistics that I have read. More so, the commotion generated by desperate whistles of African immigrants running along the streets after packing up their merchandise when police cars approached them, reminded me of similar encounters in the impoverished cities of southern Italy. The contrast to the beautiful scenery of this European city has a lot to do with the massive income inequality throughout the world. The pattern is the same: people who are able to spend their earnings, buying expensive goods, coexist with those who are unable to buy or sell the necessary goods for survival.

Bergen, Norway
During my visit, Norway was in the middle of its summer solstice, which allowed me to appreciate the darkness of the night, as the light of the sun illuminated my entire week’s stay. Bergen, once a center of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire, is located on Norway’s southwestern coast, surrounded by mountains and fjords, including Sodnefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. After accepting an invitation by Prof. Hans Offerdal, a former colleague at the University of Central Missouri, I presented my research on the Political Economy of Mexico’s Organized Crime at the Global Seminar Series organized by Cantabricothe University of Bergen’s Department of Latin American Studies. The academic exchange was productive and stimulating, and even more so, the conversations that followed with Norwegian and Mexican professors and students. Unsurprisingly, it was brought to my attention that the semi-socialist Scandinavian region that prides itself on holding the world’s highest human development index, is currently experiencing a political and social transition. Such transition comes as a response to the EU’s economic turmoil and the constant inflows of refugees and economic migrants.

While walking through the streets of Bergen’s city center, these flows become evident as the picturesque streets of a Nordic town were adorned by restaurants offering Indian, Pakistani, and Vietnamese food. I was surprised to find a small Mexican restaurant on the first floor of a well-maintained medieval looking building, right next to the city’s port. During the city square’s tour, the world became even closer for me the moment I encountered Doctors without Borders. The non-profit organization was running a tolerance awareness campaign by performing Middle East dances to an attentive crowd. It was a pleasant surprise to come across the very same organization that took care of the refugee children at Idomeni, near Thessaloniki, Greece, the refugee camp where Nichols students and I saw the non-profit in action in the Spring. The tolerance campaign was running in an attempt to prevent repeats of the violence that took place in Swedish and Danish communities where the refugees were relocated. After the continuous arrival of refugees, Norwegian’s community organizations have taken steps to prevent the rise of a nationalist front that claim Norway for Norwegians, my colleague Hans explained.

Returning home
Greenland1On my flight back to the U.S., the captain made an announcement: “it’s your lucky day,” requesting us to open our shades and look out the window. The sky was clear and Greenland’s virgin land was in front of our eyes. I gazed through the window, seeing mountains capped with snow expanding miles into the distance. This moment was a time to reflect on what seemed to be scattered dots during my journeys throughout the European Union. When thinking about the current U.S. presidential debates on the immigrant issue, I could see this controversy as not an isolated phenomenon that pertains exclusively to the U.S.  There is without doubt an ongoing transformation in the Western Hemisphere. This transformation has involved an economic crisis generated by an unrestrained, unregulated globalized financial market, which eight years after, people appear to forget. In the aftermath of the economic crisis, some countries are being challenged to absorb the masses of people who have become obsolete and disposable for a globalized world. The obsoletes and disposables, as Zygman Bauman—influential social thinker—calls them, are the thousands of economic migrants (illegal immigrants) and/or war migrants (refugees) that continue to pour over the borders of the European Union and the U.S. In the last decades, these borders have remained wide open to the incessant flows of goods, services, and capital. But somehow, remain half-way open to the free flows of people. This is precisely the political arrangement that makes the global market work for some, at the expense of a majority Other.

 

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Education, Connection & Inspiration: Traveling to Security Conference with CJM Students

By Boyd Brown III

blogCJ1This September, I had the great pleasure of traveling with three of our Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students to Orlando, Florida. The purpose of the trip was to attend the annual ASIS International Security Seminar and Conference. Carmen Garcia, Megan Faulkner, and Mike Cutrer were all recipients of the Dunbar Securities scholarship, which is awarded each year to deserving CJM students. As a part of their accomplishment, the Dunbar scholarship pays for the students to attend the seminar.

The ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security) seminar is part trade show and part professional conference. While there, attendees get to see some of the most cutting edge security technology available on the market today, from key cards and biometric door locks, to sophisticated body armor, camera systems, and security barriers. At the same time, unmatched educational sessions are held throughout. These sessions run the gamut of security related topics from loss prevention and retail security to cyber-warfare and homeland security.

Each day, there is also a keynote speaker. This year’s speakers included:

Jeh Johnson: Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

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Ted Koppel: Former ABC news anchor and host of Dateline, and author of Lights OutblogCJ4

 

Elliot Abrams: Senior Fellow of Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under President Reagan; and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council
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For the students, there were multiple networking opportunities. For example, on Wednesday, 11 current and former security and law enforcement professionals, from agencies such as the Federal Marshals service, the DEA, FBI, and NYPD spent over two hours with our students, offering career advice and encouragement.

From left to right: Prof. Boyd Brown III, Michael Cutrer, Carmen Garcia, Meghan Faulkner, ASIS International President David C. Davis, Dunbar Securities Senior Vice President Mike Doyle, Dunbar Securities Vice President for Government and Industry Affairs Patrick Gibbons, Chair of the Law Enforcement Liaison Council Brianne Grey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to say that the trip was all business and no pleasure. We attended two events at blogCJ8Universal Studios in Orlando. On Monday it was the President’s reception — the entire Universal Studios side of the park was reserved for us.

And then on Tuesday, we returned to Universal to attend an event hosted by Tyco Securities at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant.

When we were at the seminar, the students were hosted by two Dunbar Securities representatives: Senior Vice President Mike Doyle and Vice-President for Government and Industry Affairs, Pat Gibbons. Mike has been with Dunbar Securities his whole career, starting off as a Driver/Guard, while Pat worked as a Maryland State Trooper before taking a job with the FBI, from which he retired after more than 20 years of service. On Wednesday, Mike and Patrick took the students to a nearby Dunbar Securities facility to give them an inside look at how the armored car industry works.

While we were at there, we learned that the Pulse Nightclub, scene of the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in U.S. history on June 12, 2016, is just two blocks from the Dunbar facility. After we completed our tour of the facility, we decided we should visit the site.

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There are certain places that, when you visit them, there is palpable sense of sorrow that surrounds them, and the Pulse nightclub is such a place. Like Ground Zero in the wake of the September 11th attacks, the fence around the club has become the site of an impromptu memorial, with signs that indicate items will be collected and archived at the local historical society.

The visit to Pulse reminded us all that, while we were there for a conference, the ultimate goal of everything we had seen on the conference hall floor was to make our lives safer and prevent events like this one from happening. I won’t pretend to speak for the students, but I can say that, personally, the 15 minutes we spent outside Pulse were the most impactful of the entire trip.

With our thoughts on the events that shattered an otherwise perfect summer evening in Florida fresh in our minds, we headed to our final dinner with Patrick and Mike. The next morning, we would all head our separate ways. Mike and Patrick would return to Dunbar’s headquarters in Baltimore, while Mike, Carmen, Meghan, and I would board our plane bound for home, me with my head full of information and ideas to share with my classes and my students – hopefully – with information and contacts that will help them transition into their professional careers.

 

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Using Twitter to Develop your Research

By Dr. Mauri Pelto

The single most valuable networking and communication tool I currently have with colleagues is Twitter.  Twitter has become the single biggest source for readers of my research. With key colleagues this provides a platform of contact on a daily to weekly basis.  You can be successful without Twitter, but unless you are already an influencer, your influence will be reduced by not using it. There are many different ways to successfully use Twitter.  The video below is a screen capture illustrating how I use it, how I know it is spreading my influence and how it enhances my learning. It is ten minutes long, but that is how long it takes to cover the basics on how this social media platform works for me.

I can guarantee that NASA, National Geographic and Smithsonian would not all have featured my work this year if not for Twitter.   Of the more than 2.5 million views of my work in the last 12 months, at least 60% do not occur without Twitter.

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What Are You Reading This Summer?

This time of year, a common question faculty members hear is, “So what are you doing this summer?” For most of us, summer includes course preparation and a chance to dive into our fields in a way that isn’t possible during the school year. And that usually means – a lot of reading! Below, we rounded up a handful of recommended books with reviews by faculty. Feel free to post your own book recommendations in the comments section below.

 

gritGrit: The power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Reviewed by: Dr. Len Samborowski

Angela Duckworth, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, published her most accessible writing on the subject of grit in May of this year. Soon after its release, the book was #3 on the New York Times list of bestselling nonfiction.

In Grit, Duckworth presents a clear understanding of her personal passion and life goal: how to understand and develop the characteristics that make up personal achievement. On one level, I found the book to be an easy read as the writing is direct and filled with interesting stories of “grit paragons.” However, the book should not be considered a time-to-work-on-the-tan beach read. Grit is an important, thought-rattling work that should be sipped and savored for its nuanced examination of personal achievement. In a sentence, Duckworth’s theory is “Talent x effort = skill which leads to skill x effort = achievement.” Effort builds skill and makes skill productive. Grit, the engine behind personal effort, is comprised of two components: perseverance and passion.

Jay Price and I hope to apply some of the idea-provoking offerings of Duckworth’s book to our longitudinal study of grit on the Nichols campus.

 

superbossesSuperbosses: How exceptional leaders master the flow of talent by Sydney Finkelstein
Reviewed by: Dr. Len Samborowski

This book is assigned reading for MGMT 485 Leading Strategic Initiatives this fall. Finkelstein uses the prism of “Iconoclast, Glorious Bastards, and Nurtures” to illuminate the multi-hued actions that color modern business success. Eighteen “superbosses,” among them: Lorne Michaels, Ralph Lauren, Larry Ellison, Bill Walsh, Alice Waters, Jorma Panula, and Julian Robertson, are cited as examples of top executives who have inspired, driven, or intimidated their companies to excellence and high profits. The book will provide students with current case studies of distinctive business leaders. We will use these case studies to examine the course’s academic pillars of planning, organizing, leading, and evaluating.

 

habitThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and in Business by Charles Duhigg
Reviewed by: Jean Beaupre

Why do students sit in the same seats in each class? And come to think of it, why do you park in the same spot every day? Habit, says Charles Duhigg. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg presents a mix of scientific research and real-life anecdotes to explain how habit deeply impacts behavior – including why some people successfully lose weight while others falter, why some advertising campaigns are effective while others are a waste of money, and generally, the incredible influence that our habits have in all aspects of life. He describes habit as a repeating cycle of cue > routine > reward. By understanding what triggers a habit (cue), and what is motivating us to repeat it (reward), Duhigg asserts that we can in theory establish healthier and more productive habits (routine).

Drawing on diverse examples from Febreze to the Montgomery bus boycott, the book is fairly relatable, with a little bit for everyone. At times, the stories are broken up in a way that can be distracting, but overall, Duhigg gives readers a lot to think about in their own lives and organizations. It has certainly made me think about how habits are formed in the classroom, and how we might use the power of habit to improve teaching and learning. And perhaps resist popcorn in the dining hall.

 

smarterfasterbetterSmarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg
Reviewed by: Luanne Westerling

I was reading an article in Fortune Magazine recommending business reads for the summer, and the final paragraph indicated if you could read only one of the books, read this one, so I did! Duhigg is also the author of The Power of Habit (see above!) which I read last summer and remains on the New York Times bestseller list. I enjoyed the author last summer, and also figured getting some tips on being smarter, faster and better could not hurt.

It’s a fast and enjoyable read that uses anecdotes to demonstrate the proposed principles. My favorite topics addressed were motivation and team dynamics. Motivation is a challenge for all of us at some point, and the author suggests that motivation increases when we have a sense of control and choice in our given circumstances. Many examples are used, but the example of student motivation improving when they are given more choice struck a chord. Next, he discusses that the most effective teams have a sense of psychological safety, and when a team feels this way, innovation is encouraged best by combining old ideas in new ways. The anecdote used to describe this principle was Disney’s writing and production team for their smash hit Frozen. The movie was months away from release and they still did not have a strong ending, and how they used old ideas to create a new and powerful ending was an approach any team could use.

While these were my favorite chapters, the other topics are worthwhile and include: goal setting, focus and the creation of mental models, decision-making strategies, and absorbing and using data in an effective manner. There are many books on productivity, but this one was different in that it makes the reader assess their behaviors of productivity and how they might change, rather than providing a “take these steps” to be more productive.

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