LETTERS, ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
A Message from the Dean ... From Sunnyside, Washington, to Argentina and from the highways of Alaska to classrooms and communities throughout Idaho, the projects highlighted in this year’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences Research and Creative Works publication illustrate the impact that our faculty members have not only on University of Idaho students, but also on our global community. This year’s stories demonstrate how the scholarly work in our college inspires creativity and innovation, advocates for positive change in our society, and saves lives by making our communities and roadways safer. The faculty highlighted in this publication epitomize the hallmarks of CLASS. Not only are our faculty dedicated and passionate teachers, but they are also top researchers, performers and scholars. CLASS research pushes the humanities, performing arts and social sciences into new
areas and encourages students — both undergraduate and graduate — to learn and explore these scholarly endeavors. I am proud of the amount of research and creative work that happens in our college. The projects showcased in this publication, which are just examples of the many research projects underway in the college, are an important element of our university’s reputation as Idaho’s premier research university. I encourage you to visit www.uidaho.edu/class to learn more about the departments, programs and people who are leading this fantastic work. Go Vandals! ANDREW E. KERSTEN | Dean College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences
Diane Kelly-Riley – “Revolutionizing Writing Instruction”
Leonard Garrison – “Eschewing Convention through Music”
Politics and Philosophy.........................................14
Katherine Aiken – “Understanding America’s Nostalgia”
Bert Baumgaertner – “The Appeal of Echo Chambers”
International Studies/Martin Institute................6
Psychology and Communication Studies.......16
Bill Smith – “Lessons in International Relations”
Brian Dyre – “Decreasing Traffic Fatalities through Psychology”
Journalism and Mass Media..................................8
Sociology and Anthropology...............................18
Russ Meeuf – “TV’s Rebellious Bodies”
Joseph De Angelis – “Why Police Accountability Matters”
Modern Languages and Cultures.......................10
Theatre Arts.............................................................. 20
Ashley Kerr – “Argentina’s Complicated Relationship with Race”
Jesse Dreikosen – “Theater’s Contribution to the Women’s Movement”
STORIES BY KATE KEENAN
PICTURES BY JOE PALLEN
GRAPHIC DESIGN BY BETH CASE
CLASS Department of
The English faculty is a vibrant community of diverse scholars and writers. Primarily known for their excellence in creative writing and environmentallyfocused literary scholarship, their poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in the nation’s most prominent venues, including The New York Times, Pushcart Prize Anthology, Best American Short Stories, and Harper’s, and their books have been published by Viking, Penguin, Knopf, Faber and Faber and others. Faculty members also conduct important research in applied linguistics and writing program assessment, as well as edit distinguished journals. The department’s literary scholars have published numerous books and are considered to be international leaders in the field of ecocriticism. To learn more about the research and creative activity being done by the English faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/english
Diane Kelly-Riley — Revolutionizing Writing Remedial writing classes don’t work. Studies funded by a UI Seed Grant and the Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) found that only one in nine students in developmental writing classes went on to graduate from college. Students enrolled in remedial classes also pay more in tuition and have higher debt loads and dropout rates nationwide. In 2012, the SBOE ordered two- and four-year institutions to eliminate all remedial math and writing, and institutions responded by creating an alternative for struggling students. Diane Kelly-Riley, then director of composition, now associate professor in UI’s English Department and associate dean of research for the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, has been working to develop these programs at UI since 2013. Kelly-Riley created English 101 Plus based on a successful pilot program at Boise State University. The course requires qualifying students to attend a weekly studio session in addition to enrollment in the regular introductory-level English course. The 2
extra time allows the instructor to preview upcoming material, review difficult concepts and provide personalized instruction. That framework was adopted by Idaho’s seven other public postsecondary institutions in 2016. So far, the model has seen success. While it is too early to assess its effect on overall graduation rates, students are passing at much higher rates than when enrolled in the original remedial courses, Kelly-Riley said. Now, Kelly-Riley is using funding from the SBOE to work on a project she hopes will further bolster student success in writing. Idaho ENACT (Educators Networking About CollegeComposition Transitions) is a statewide network of secondary and postsecondary writing instructors who work to bridge the gap between what is expected of incoming college students and the skills high school students are graduating with. “We feel strongly that the expertise teachers have needs to drive this project,” Kelly-Riley said. “The Common Core State Standards,
Instruction renamed the Idaho Standards, have the intent of making students college- and career-ready. They didn’t ask any college educators what college writing looks like as they were developing these standards, though. So we’ve been trying to articulate that.” Idaho ENACT participants met for the first time in April 2016 at the McCall Outdoor Science School under Kelly-Riley’s leadership. They formed regional advisory boards and have returned to their districts, colleges and universities to continue strategizing with colleagues on how to improve writing instruction. One issue of concern was the lack of space for student failure. “In the high-stakes environment that places so much emphasis on student performance on standardized tests, and in the K-12 arena in which teacher evaluation is tied to student performance, there’s not motivation to give room for failure — for students to learn that failure is a learning experience, rather than an end,” Kelly-Riley said.
Alternatives to high-stakes testing is one of Kelly-Riley’s specialties, ever since she was a volunteer for the Peace Corps in 1989 in the Marshall Islands. There, students in the eighth grade needed to pass a national exam in order to advance to high school, and their success largely dictated students’ economic advancement for the rest of their lives. Since then, Kelly-Riley has found a viable alternative to standardized testing in student portfolios, which provide evidence of student learning from the classroom, rather than “outside the learning environment.” As communication becomes more pervasive with advancing technology, the writing skills that Kelly-Riley wants to improve are more important than ever. “The communication challenges students will face when they graduate is always moving,” Kelly-Riley said. “We want to keep our students in tune to what that changing landscape is.”
CLASS Department of
Comprised of scholars actively engaged in original historical research, the history faculty inspires a greater understanding of the global past. Their interests span four continents and a wide chronological swath, hearkening back to a millennium of human experience. Although the historians engage in cutting-edge international scholarly research, their primary focus remains in four major areas: the American West (with special emphasis upon the Pacific Northwest); women and gender studies; the history of science, health and environment; and global systems of economic and cultural exchange, particularly related to human slavery and war. To learn more about the research being done by the history faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/history
Katherine Aiken — Understanding America’s Nostalgia
hen Japan entered World War II in 1941, a Japanese-American man from Sunnyside, Washington, felt compelled to serve his country. The college student enlisted with the U.S. Army in 1943 — in spite of the fact that his parents and siblings were forced into an internment camp by the very country he wanted to serve. The story of Hiroshi Furukawa — who returned from WWII and continued to serve his community as a family doctor — is one of five biographies of Sunnyside residents included in an upcoming book by UI history Professor Katherine Aiken. Aiken calls Sunnyside — her hometown located in the Yakima Valley — “a microcosm of America.” Juxtaposed between the biographies of five Sunnyside veterans and their children, “Our Fathers, Our Town” explores the economic and social changes the town experienced in the century before and after WWII, delving into issues of gender, ethnicity and labor.
“I couldn’t figure out how to tell the story of when soldiers returned from the war if I didn’t have pieces of what happened before and if I didn’t show what happened afterward,” Aiken said. “It mushroomed into a much bigger thing than I anticipated.” It’s a case study of a small American town, from which Aiken extrapolates larger themes. Finding stories like Furukawa’s was alarming, Aiken said. As she scanned 100 years’ worth of her hometown newspaper on microfilm, Aiken said she was shocked by the details relating to the treatment of Japanese-Americans. At the onset of World War II, the U.S. government forced these American citizens into internment camps. Many saw the action as racially motivated and the people of Sunnyside, as in other parts of the region, stood by and watched, Aiken said. “That one bothers me,” Aiken said. “I think about that a lot. And I think there was a big opportunity to right those wrongs when Hispanics came.”
Hispanic migrant workers arrived in Sunnyside after World War II; they began staying more permanently in the 1970s. While they contributed to the success of the area’s agricultural economy, they didn’t receive equal treatment with housing, education or employment — an issue Aiken explores through the story of Charles Schwartz, a merchant marine during WWII who produced grapes for the nearby Welch’s facility and employed migrant labor. Newly constructed highways during the 1970s also meant people were traveling to larger population centers for commerce. Baby boomers, including the children of veterans that Aiken highlights in her book, left the area. Caroden Hole, who served in a European Theatre tank crew and opened a furniture and hardware store upon returning home from the war, saw his shop go out of business. Suddenly, the small town of Sunnyside was in economic decline.
These changes were dramatic for the WWII generation, who had “built the strongest economy in the world,” according to Aiken, and for the generations that followed. “A lot of people want to go back to how it was then,” she said. “They want to have job security and feel more in control of their own destiny, rather than part of globalization.” “Our Fathers, Our Town,” due for publication in 2018, also explores some of the racial components of that nostalgia. Hispanics now constitute the majority of the population in Sunnyside, and Aiken highlights how, despite Hispanic economic contributions, those demographic changes have resulted in conflict. As a historian, Aiken remains hopeful that society will “get it right.” “Even though there are times when society does things we’re ashamed of, usually we figure it out,” she said. “We still have a way to go, but we'll get there.”
Bill Smith — Lessons in International Relations
he sports community, with its global interconnectedness and appeal to diverse audiences, can breed powerful social change.
Bill Smith’s favorite example of the two realms overlapping is when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) used its leverage to help end apartheid in South Africa. In 1964, the IOC withdrew its invitation to the country and in 1970, it officially expelled South Africa from competing in the Games. This led to an official declaration against apartheid in sports and contributed to the end of that nation’s racially charged political system in 1991.
Smith’s passion lies at this intersection of sports and international affairs, where a positive narrative nearly always exists alongside the negative. Having grown up watching ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” during the Cold War era, the sports-politics relationship has long existed for Smith, who chairs UI’s International Studies Program and directs the Martin Institute — a center that provides cross-curricular research opportunities for undergraduates to better understand the international system. Following the controversy surrounding the systemic statesponsored doping among the 2016 Russian Olympic team, Smith
International Studies Program and the Martin Institute Founded in 1979, the Martin Institute is a dynamic teaching, research and outreach center dedicated to understanding the causes of war, the conditions necessary for peace and the international system. The institute administers the International Studies Program whose faculty focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and researching international affairs, policymaking and development. Current areas of study include sport and international affairs, the United Nations, international environmental law and policy, climate change and poverty. To learn more about the research being done by the international studies faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/international-studies
said. “The same is true in Syria. Since sports don’t fit into those societies the same way, the result of exclusion is not as impactful. But there are some times and places when it works really well.”
gave interviews to such national newspapers as The New York Times and USA Today on the positive tale that emerged: The IOC gave the World Anti-Doping Agency increased authority to resolve the issue and sanction non-compliant federations. It was a subplot that counterbalanced the scandal. Historically, Smith said, sports have also allowed smaller, more obscure states entry onto a global stage, along with the ability to gain respect that might not be granted if not for their athletic abilities. Moreover, nations under scrutiny for human rights violations, such as South Africa, might change course when pressured by the international community via sporting boycotts. Of course, people can’t always pay attention to politics through sports, Smith noted. “When sports federations tried to get the Taliban to quit murdering people in Afghanistan through sport, it didn’t work,” he
This interdisciplinary nature of issues like those presented in sports intrigues Smith the most — in his personal research and in developing opportunities for students, such as the Martin Institute’s UNESCO Research Program, which brings together students from various degree-seeking programs. Students first learn about the work done by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and then complete a research paper and presentation related to the organization’s mission to “build peace in the minds of men and women.” Recent research projects have centered on international norms for repatriating stolen cultural artifacts; the differences between global women’s rights and cultural rights, like female genital mutilation; and governments that punish citizens who abandon state-sponsored religions. Smith encourages students to pursue an area of research they’re passionate about, just as he’s pursued what influences him. “What I love most of all is sports and international relations,” said Smith, who won the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016. “But that’s my thing. Students have their own ideas about what they want to do. They’re people who understand the other’s perspective and appreciate it. Maybe they still decide to go against that perspective. But at least they know where the other side’s coming from and they don’t dismiss it.” 7
CLASS School of
Journalism and Mass Media The faculty members in the School of Journalism and Mass Media conduct scholarly and applied research on a variety of topics related to the practice of news reporting and editing, journalism education and media’s role in society. Faculty members also engage in creative scholarship, including producing documentaries, short films and digital visual archives associated with historical topics. In 2014, the school became the only nationally accredited journalism and mass communications program in Idaho. To learn more about the research being done by the journalism and mass media faculty members, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/jamm
Russ Meeuf — TV’s Rebellious Bodies
he stigma associated with certain TV shows — think “Keeping up with the Kardashians” or the “The Bachelor” series and any of its spin-offs — may stem from the assumption that attention paid to celebrities means less consideration for matters of consequence. But according to Russ Meeuf, celebrities may help people process their own life events and the political sphere. “TV serves as a tool for young people to better understand themselves,” said Meeuf, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Media and author of “Rebellious Bodies,” a book published by the University of Texas Press in March. Meeuf’s book explores how popular media portrays, perhaps unrealistically, a society of cultural inclusivity and economic mobility through so-called deviant body types. The way mass media uses feel-good stories from celebrities of diverse
backgrounds to cite a societal shift toward cultural inclusion is problematic, though, Meeuf said, and keeps society from achieving real policy change. Meeuf’s case studies for exploring this problem include a starstudded cast: Melissa McCarthy offers a lens into weight and femininity; Laverne Cox, from “Orange Is the New Black,” lends insight into transgender issues; “Game of Thrones” actor Peter Dinklage leads to a discussion on male sexuality relative to disability; Betty White opens the door for ageism in Hollywood; “Precious” actress Gabriella Sidoubey paves the way for a study of the supposed post-racial identity after the 2008 election; and through Danny Trejo, best known for his “Spy Kids” series, readers get a glimpse into the Latino immigrant experience. These stars’ experiences challenge conceptions about what makes a stereotypically normal body, along with the idea that the system
is stacked against them. They serve as examples, used by popular media, of people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps — even in a society of income inequality. The result, Meeuf said, is an oversimplified perception that people can succeed on the basis of merit, and that policies to create more economic equality therefore aren’t necessary. “The star system has always been there to give people the sense that if you’re talented enough and beautiful enough and work hard enough, you, like the people we see in films and TV, can achieve something,” Meeuf said. “We’re seeing an intensification of that rhetoric of individuals succeeding. It’s much easier to sell a melodramatic narrative about individuals than it is to have a deeper conversation.
“What we’ve actually been seeing over the past 30 years is that opportunities for upward economic mobility have been dwindling and stagnating.” Meeuf writes from the vantage point of a cisgendered, straight, able-bodied white man. But the vision of equality is real to him. “The ideal of America as a culture and democracy is that everybody has the same opportunities to contribute something,” Meeuf said. “Having a world that is not just tolerant of people who are different from us — but creating equality for those groups — is going to be an important part of how we face the real challenges of today. I hope that my book helps contribute to a larger discussion about how media and popular culture can act to create a world that creates opportunities for all people.”
“Those visions of feel-good inclusivity don’t actually question the underlying economic structures that create inequality,” he added.
CLASS Department of
Modern Languages & Cultures The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures is comprised of a multinational group of scholars with expertise in French, German, Japanese and Spanish languages and cultures. They conduct research in European and Latin American culture, film, history and literature. Their interdisciplinary research combines the strengths of the social sciences; the fields of education, cultural medicine, and law; and the humanities. Current research topics include human trafficking and immigration issues, history of the rhetoric of science, transmediality and narrative. Faculty members also focus on white privilege and the second-language classroom, computerassisted language learning and proficiency assessment. To learn more about the research being done by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/mlc
Ashley Kerr — Argentina’s Complicated Rela
n the 19th century, the popular world’s fairs offered a strategic platform for countries to display their scientific accomplishments and to prove themselves worthwhile players in the international trade scene.
One country vying to improve its international presence in the late 1800s era of industrialization was Argentina. As the country’s elites tried to prove they were a worthy player in the international arena, a dark side of racism and the eradication of Argentina’s indigenous population emerged. Ashley Kerr, an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies, takes a look at the evolution of Argentina and the popular perception of the country as a “European microcosm” in her essay, “From Savagery to Sovereignty: Identity, Politics, and International Exhibitions of Argentine Anthropology, 18781892.” Kerr’s work will be highlighted in 2017 in Isis, a premier academic journal from University of Chicago Press.
In the 1800s, European and North American societies were rapidly advancing, and aspiring nations, including Argentina, used exhibitions at the world’s fairs to try to mimic other countries’ successes. According to Kerr, this went as far as attempting to emulate racial makeup — a supposed factor in societal advancements. The desire to attain a more “civilized” status created a complicated problem for the Argentine elite, Kerr found. Since its indigenous population contrasted with Europeans and those newly settled in North America, they wanted to sweep them under the rug. However, Europeans also appreciated the raw materials, such as prehistoric skulls, that the Argentines displayed at the fairs. “It was the paradox of science in the 19th century,” Kerr said. “Doing science is a way of proving that you’re progressing and thinking, but for countries like Argentina, that’s also a problem: European anthropologists could go to Africa or Australia to see their ‘savages,’ but the Argentines had ‘savages,’ as they called
ationship with Race them, right there. And, there were quite a few people, in North America and Europe, saying that racial mixing was bad.”
as domestic help. Children were separated from their families for re-education.
Argentina turned to the U.S. in looking for a role model for race relations. In the late 1800s, an Argentine ambassador went to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to study its policies for treating indigenous populations — with disastrous consequences, Kerr said.
Kerr’s research offers a glimpse into the historical mistreatment of Argentina’s indigenous population, but it also remains relevant to modern-day realities.
“The U.S. experience seemed to be this positive tale of gaining independence and getting more land,” Kerr noted, emphasizing that the reality of the tale was far from positive. “Americans came up with intellectuals and literature. They managed to control their Indian problem. People in Argentina looked to achieve similar effects. Because of the scientific racism of the 19th century, they think they’re not progressing economically because they’ve racially mixed with indigenous people.”
“The mentality of racism hasn’t been totally eradicated in Argentina,” she said. “People of indigenous descent are still more likely to live in poverty and have less access to education and social services. However, there is some recognition of what’s been done over the last century. There have been several high profile cases where museums returned skeletons to indigenous communities for reburial, and they’re trying to incorporate wording in the constitution that they’re open to everyone. But it’s only a partial incorporation.”
The eventual outcome was slavery and genocide. The military imprisoned or killed indigenous populations. They sent prisoners to work on sugar plantations and gave away women and children
In the meantime, Kerr’s work may bring heightened awareness of the still rampant racism in Argentina, and how the U.S. can be a trailblazer in such matters, for better or worse. 11
Leonard Garrison — Eschewing Convention
eonard Garrison didn’t like his fourth-grade teacher. But he did like The Beatles. For a budding musician in the 1960s, the relationships were mutually exclusive.
“She taught some really boring songs,” said Garrison, who will release his tenth CD this year. “So I suggested, ‘Why don’t we study some Beatles?’” But Garrison’s teacher countered that the pop sensation wasn’t worthy of being studied. That afternoon, he went home and told his mom that he didn’t like music anymore. Her solution was to immediately enroll Garrison in piano lessons — with an 80-year old teacher who was a student in the early 1900s under one of Franz Liszt’s pupils. According to Garrison, a self-described nonconformist, something clicked during those visits. However, he realized that playing the piano lacked a social element he craved — it’s often not featured in bands or orchestras — so he sought a change.
At age 10, Garrison found his match in the flute, compositions for which are “the most progressive in modern music,” he said. Before long, he outgrew the teachers in his hometown of Billings, Montana, and began traveling 100-plus miles to study under a university professor in Bozeman, Montana. Today, Garrison continues to eschew convention at the University of Idaho, where he is an associate professor of flute and associate director in the Lionel Hampton School of Music. He augments the more familiar French approach to the flute, which imitates operatic singing, by exploring the instrument’s nontraditional sounds. He plays music by composers like longtime friend Harvey Sollberger, who produces unique effects by speaking into the flute and using it for percussion. “Traditionally, the flute has been played one way, and everybody has this idea of what it sounds like,” Garrison said. “But I don’t want to record the same music that 20 other people have recorded. I want to make an original contribution.”
Lionel Hampton School of Music The Lionel Hampton School of Music (LHSOM) boasts an exceptional and close-knit faculty of prominent performers, composers, scholars, and pedagogues. The faculty showcases a diversity of musical genres and styles from jazz to Classical chamber music through live performances, recordings and scholarly publications. They also continue to propel the art form forward through composition of new works and the exploration of new musical ideas. In addition to its internationally-known expertise in performance and composition, the LHSOM has a research focus in world music, music education, music history and music theory. To learn more about the research and creative activity being done by the LHSOM faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/music
through Music It’s with this aesthetic that Garrison released his 2016 CD, “Chimera,” on New York-based Albany Records. The album features Garrison’s collaboration with clarinetist Shannon Scott, his wife and musical partner of over 25 years.
If an audience member sits next to a person playing the flute, Garrison said, the vibrations can be felt and produce healing effects. In addition, the breathing techniques used by the musician lead to positive effects for the performer, too.
This affinity for innovation exists in many areas of Garrison’s life. He is arranging a tour to China to observe how traditional Chinese societies teach music through UI’s Confucius Institute.
What’s more, Garrison said, music can result in a better understanding of the human condition. Performers inhabit composers’ thoughts and emotions when they play their pieces, which becomes an exercise in empathy.
“Especially now, we need to understand and respect how different cultures function and what their values are,” Garrison said. “I want to find out how they pass their music on from one generation to another and what can we learn from that.” Garrison also ensures that his students understand the need for music to exist outside the confines of the orchestra hall. Every spring, the UI Flute Ensemble visits a local assisted living facility to play music for its residents. “There’s a lot of research about music and healing,” Garrison said. “There have been studies that show music does more good than aspirin or certain drugs.”
“If you play a Beethoven symphony, you can get into Beethoven’s innermost thoughts, and I enjoy that,” Garrison said. “There’s something elemental about expression through music. It’s been a part of every culture since prehistory, so it can express a wide array of emotions. We need that outlet. I think it’s really important for children to participate in and learn music. We need something to supplement the scientific, logical approach to life. “Music and art are what make us human.”
CLASS Department of
Politics and Philosophy
The faculty members in the Department of Politics and Philosophy are nationally-recognized scholars with a wide range of research specialties. Faculty in philosophy publish and present on topics in ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, religious studies and epistemology. A distinguished group of theorists, the political science faculty specialize in international and domestic processes, environmental politics, public administration and policy, human rights and community sustainability. To learn more about the research being done by the political science and philosophy faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/politics-and-philosophy
Bert Baumgaertner — The Appeal of Echo Chambers
ert Baumgaertner recognizes that there’s something deeply satisfying about being surrounded by people with like-minded ideologies. But in his business of truth-seeking, he tries to avoid such scenarios, instead surrounding himself with as many dissenting opinions as possible.
Baumgaertner built what he calls an agent-based model to research how patterns, with regard to echo chambers and polarization, emerge in different human interactions. This computer simulation program allows individual agents to interact with others based on various sets of rules.
As assistant professor of philosophy, Baumgaertner researches the phenomenon of echo chambers — the spaces, such as online forums, media outlets or social groups, in which people exclusively surround themselves with others of similar, often extreme, mindsets, which creates highly structured populations and leads to an amplification of opinions. The result is polarization — when division occurs between groups of people because of different viewpoints. He explores this dynamic in his paper “Yes, No, Maybe So,” published in 2014 by Springer, and more recently in his September 2016 paper “Opinion Strength Influences the Spatial Dynamics of Opinion Formation” in The Journal of Mathematical Sociology.
He began with the assumption that amplification of opinion occurs when people find others who agree with them, and therefore feel validated even if no new evidence or argument is presented to them. What became his most significant finding was how polarization can occur with even the slightest bit of amplification. Individuals with the most extreme opinions and least tolerance for compromise become the most influential, even if there are very few of them. “You might have some agents who make due diligence to meet everybody in the middle,” Baumgaertner said. “And you expect that populations will move toward the center on issues and not toward one side. But if you have even a tiny bit of bias, you can
actually produce polarization if the population is structured” — or if individuals only interact with other like-minded people.
dissenting opinions, and evidence-based truths would become more apparent. In fact, the opposite happened.
The downfall of polarized societies, Baumgaertner said, is that they are “less receptive to the truth,” which proves problematic when attempting to create change.
“I can go to Bert’s forum for everything that Bert agrees with and nothing that Bert disagrees with,” Baumgaertner said. “And I don’t have to listen to what’s being said on other outlets. I can find people online with my exact views and just have interactions with them. The internet had this weird opposite effect where people can find these assenting niche opinions and ignore people on the outside with dissenting opinions.”
“Collective action depends on us being able to reach some kind of consensus,” he said. “If we’re highly polarized and the thing creating this polarization has to do with our population structure, it will be more difficult to get that consensus.” By contrast, Baumgaertner said, “If you have a population that’s less polarized, that means you’re going to listen to people with dissenting opinions on a pretty frequent basis. You’re going to be able to adapt more quickly to whatever influence you’re getting from the outside. It has to do with how responsive populations are to external stimuli, and polarized populations aren’t going to be receptive.” Baumgaertner noted that with the rise of the internet, the assumption existed that people would have more exposure to
He added: “The truth is often inconvenient. We have a natural inclination to meet with people similar to us. We have to be extra diligent and cautious of the type of situations we put ourselves in given that disposition.” Baumgaertner’s next research project will deal with people’s abilities and willingness to discern fake news from evidencebased news, which he hopes will “highlight just how important philosophy is.” 15
Brian Dyre — Decreasing Traffic Fatalities
hen he’s not teaching upper-level psychology courses on how environmental stimuli influence human perception, decision making and motor control, Brian Dyre drives up and down Alaska’s rural Seward Highway. It runs south from Anchorage through the nearly 7 million-acre Chugach National Forest to the Kenai Peninsula, which juts into the Gulf of Alaska. It’s a rugged and picturesque trip, and one that Dyre travels virtually, using a simulator to research how drivers respond to visual information along rural roadways in an attempt to reduce accidents. As an associate professor of psychology and communication studies, Dyre works with the National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT) in the University of Idaho College of Engineering, which was commissioned by the Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) in 2013 to research strategies for improving the safety of the passing lanes that
the state spent millions of dollars to construct, but which led to horrific head-on collisions. In applying psychophysics, Dyre and his team found a solution that will potentially save countless lives — and is currently awaiting approval from the federal government. Rather than field testing strategies for improving the safety of passing lanes — which in many cases would prove unsafe, costly and bureaucratically impossible — Dyre used a driving simulator that he built with colleague Steffen Werner in 2008. In a video game-like scenario, the simulator allows participants to sit in the cab of a truck and navigate a computerized roadway. Using this setup, Dyre then studied how drivers responded to the surrounding environment and various inputs, such as road signs and highway markings. “One of the biggest implications is seeing the human being as part of an environment,” Dyre said. “You’re sending signals to the human being and comparing the output and input to figure out what’s going on in their brain.”
Psychology & Communication Studies
The Department of Psychology and Communication Studies faculty is an esteemed group of researchers with academic training in a wide variety of specialties including: spatial cognition and virtual environments, injury prevention, family communication, child development, aging, gender differences, sexuality and addiction. Through groundbreaking work done in the Human-in-the-Loop Simulation Laboratory, faculty researchers seek to understand how human behaviors affect safety outcomes, how those behaviors can be influenced, and experiment with new formats to provide real-world applications to achieve better outcomes. Their expertise has been sought out by governmental organizations and private companies such as the Idaho National Laboratory and the Nissan Corporation. To learn more about the research being done by the psychology and communication studies faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/psychcomm
through Psychology Dyre, along with NIATT Director Ahmed Abdel-Rahim and a crew of students, tested 10 strategies for increasing the safety of Alaska’s passing lanes. They posted signs suggesting that drivers being passed slow down; lowered the speed limit in the righthand lane, while maintaining a higher speed limit in the passing lane; and created speed illusions by increasing the highway’s edge rate, which involves painting roadside markings that get progressively closer together and give drivers a sense that they are moving faster than they are. Dyre hypothesized that this increased edge rate would be the most successful scenario based on prior research. But, it only slowed down drivers by 1 mph — a meager result that wouldn’t convince the state to invest in new roadway markings. The split speed limit, however, led to a decrease in speed by 5-6 mph, which was the result Dyre and his team wanted. Currently underway is another ADOT-commissioned project for which Dyre and assistant professor in civil engineering Kevin
Chang are using the simulator to determine how certain lineof-sight obstacles, such as vegetation and guardrails, affect a person’s perception of safe passing conditions. He started by removing obstructions — essentially clearcutting vegetation in his virtual world — and will then add obstacles back in. The findings will help inform Alaska’s transportation department on decisions related to highway maintenance and may give insight into where to eliminate passing zones. “There’s quite a bit of public resistance to taking passing zones away,” Dyre said. “So ADOT wants to have good, sound scientific basis for their decisions.” Although Dyre has never been to Alaska in real life, he hopes to one day drive the sections of highways that he has tested. Pending approval of the mandates that he’s proposed to Alaska’s transportation sector, the highway that leads to the state’s most popular travel destinations may be a safer thoroughfare once he gets there. 17
CLASS Department of
Sociology & Anthropology
An academic unit consisting of two distinct disciplines, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology is a respected team of scholars who take an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to studying the social and anthropological world. The sociology faculty focuses on three broad areas of scholarship — criminology, globalization and inequalities in its various manifestations. Examples of research currently being conducted are crime as social change and how female farmers access their farmland. In anthropology, the faculty has particular expertise in archaeology with emphasis on the prehistory and history of the Inland Northwest. These researchers have been sought out for their expertise and advice by numerous state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Geological Survey, Army Corps of Engineers, Idaho Archaeological Society, the City of Boise and many private cultural resource management companies. To learn more about the research being done by the sociology and anthropology faculty, go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/soc-anthro
Joseph De Angelis — Why Police Accountabilty
n the past several years, high-profile cases highlighting police misconduct began catapulting into the limelight. Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Eric Garner have become household names. The issue of police accountability is a longstanding one that goes in and out of national focus, but one that’s been in the forefront of Joseph De Angelis’ mind for more than a decade. As an assistant professor of criminology and sociology, last year De Angelis completed a report for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist jurisdictions in implementing a model of police oversight that best matches their needs. The report includes a brief history and evolution of civilian oversight, existing research on the resources needed for effective oversight, a review of three different oversight models and the results of an organizational survey De Angelis conducted of 97 police oversight agencies nationwide. The survey helped De Angelis assess what makes police oversight agencies effective. He found that key factors include resources such as funding, staffing and training; transparency; community outreach and involvement; and support from local stakeholders, such as politicians.
While emphasizing that he knows many more good police officers than bad, and that officers work in chaotic environments with complex interpersonal situations, De Angelis is grateful that the issue of accountability has re-emerged. With every police shooting, questions surface about the militarization of police, law enforcement officers’ use of force, police treatment of communities of color and whether certain social groups are over-policed. According to De Angelis, the sustained interest in these issues has been influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has garnered media attention and pushed the federal government to analyze law enforcement performance in urban communities, while devoting more dollars to support research on police oversight measures. “Minority neighborhoods and communities of color do suffer disproportionately from undue focus by local police,” said De Angelis, who worked as a policy director and research analyst for two different police oversight agencies that oversee local law enforcement, before coming to UI. This pattern of misconduct has developed over the past 150 years, De Angelis explained, which he outlined in his DOJ report.
Matters In the 19th century, corruption among law enforcement and government officials ran rampant, especially in New York and Boston, as those in power accepted money to protect gambling dens and brothels. According to De Angelis, it was then that police commissions formed and hiring standards evolved to ensure people were hired based on merit, rather than political connections. During the civil rights era, civilian review boards formed to handle complaints against police for impeding civil rights in minority communities. During Ronald Regan’s presidency in the 1980s, De Angelis pointed toward the administration’s politically charged campaign to exploit white working and middle class fears about minority communities, which created racialized discourse and led to “an overemphasis of criminal justice resources on minority neighborhoods.” After the Rodney King beating in 1991, which gave way to a report on the organizational problems with the LAPD, civilian oversight agencies began to flourish.
But before the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, nobody knew the number of officer-involved shootings in the U.S. because the federal government hasn’t required law enforcement agencies to report such incidents. In fact, nobody knew how many police oversight agencies existed. De Angelis and his team found 144 nationwide. “These agencies are designed to open a window to police internal affairs to demonstrate to the public that when allegations of misconduct are raised against an officer, concerns are taken seriously, investigations are thorough and fair, and officers are held accountable,” De Angelis said. But addressing the issue of police accountability requires a change that goes above and beyond law enforcement agencies. “Police departments act out the priorities of local governments and communities,” he said. “Their conduct is just the most obvious representation of powerful political figures.” It’s worth noting, De Angelis said, that “communities that seem to have the fewest problems with police misconduct are in jurisdictions where local officials set a tone that misconduct will not be tolerated.”
CLASS Department of
The University of Idaho’s Department of Theatre Arts offers one of the nation’s premier land-grant theatre training programs. Interdisciplinary at its core, theatre is a collaborative art that integrates the allied but distinctly disparate work of playwrights, directors, actors, designers and technicians. The work of these artists is inspired by rigorous research and culminates in live performance. The department boasts an award-winning faculty, a family of artists who have earned consistent recognition for their national and international contributions and the success of their students post-graduation. To learn more about the research being done by the Theatre Arts faculty go to: www.uidaho.edu/class/theatre
Jesse Dreikosen — Theater's Contribution to the Women’s Movement
n the ancient Greek myth “Medea,” the lead female character commits infanticide and offends audiences for her unthinkable acts of violence. Today, however, theater companies are attempting to elicit a different response — one of empathy for Medea as an ill-treated woman. That’s the point of view of two recent productions for which Jesse Dreikosen served as scenic designer. An assistant professor of scene design and head of design and technology in UI’s Theatre Arts department, Dreikosen has created sets nationwide, attempting each time to offer a fresh take on a story through the artistry of a space. Traditionally, the “Medea” myth begins after the eponymous character helps her soon-to-be husband, Jason, achieve heroic status. She then leaves her home as they begin a new life in a foreign land. The couple have two sons, and then the onstage tragedy unfolds. Jason announces his plans to leave Medea for a royal princess, and Medea, humiliated and angered by his infidelity on the heels of her sacrifice, kills Jason’s mistress and
then her own children — an act she knows will cause her husband heartache. Then comes what traditional audiences fretted most: Medea is swept off by her grandfather in a dragon-drawn chariot, escaping any semblance of what they deemed justice. According to Dreikosen, traditional productions of “Medea” have pitted the female protagonist as an evil, vengeful woman. But Dreikosen and his crew had a different view. Raised almost singlehandedly by his mother and grandmother, Dreikosen wanted to explore “how we live in a society in which young girls are not presented with the same opportunities as their male counterparts.” “Medea: Her Story,” which debuted on UI’s campus in fall 2016 and was produced by Dreikosen and colleagues Kelly Quinnett and Matt Foss, combined several adaptations of the myth and explored Medea as a child — something that hasn’t been done, Dreikosen said. “Not Medea,” written by playwright Allison Gregory, debuted at the Contemporary American Theater Festival
in West Virginia last July and was a contemporary look at a single mother struggling to raise her children in the 21st century. In designing both sets, Dreikosen, whose interest lies in how people’s energies can be manipulated through feng shui, considered how certain colors and spaces would draw forth emotional reactions from the audience. In “Not Medea,” he created a theater-in-the-round, so the audience would be more likely to feel empathy for Medea — an attempt to raise awareness of women’s issues. “It worked really well because it put Medea right in the center,” Dreikosen said. “By jutting out the stage into the audience and not having side walls skew the viewpoint, it felt like you were part of that chamber that she was trapped in.” Onstage, Dreikosen ensured that the bedroom had a contemporary flair with such features as a platform bed and wood floors, along with a large window that served as a glimpse into the heavens — and a nod to the play’s ancient Greek origins.
In “Medea: Her Story,” Dreikosen used color theorem to coincide with the recurring acts of violence. The lighting had a subtle tinge of red, and each time innocence was lost, including the killing of Medea’s children, Medea popped a red balloon. The stage’s backdrop consisted of three walls that correlated with the portrayal of Medea’s three life phases — childhood, adolescence, and mother and wife. In set design, “it always comes down to three questions,” Dreikosen said. “What is the story we’re trying to tell, why are we doing this play and what are we trying to tell our audience.” With Dreikosen’s back-to-back Medea productions, he said he feels proud to know that the stories contributed to the conversation on gender inequality. “The curse of inequality is on humankind, not womankind,” Dreikosen said. “We really explored those human moments that tell us about what kind of woman she is and what kind of person she is. We found a way that we can all relate to her.”
Administration Building, Room 112 875 Perimeter Drive, MS 3154 Moscow Idaho 83844-3154