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First Biannual Research Journal

Westminster McNair Journal 2004 and 2005


2004 Research Scholars

  • Sarah Janel Jackson, University of Utah
    Mentor: Kimberly Zarkin, Ph.D., Communication, Westminster College

    Representations of Minorities in Utah's Local News

    An analysis of Utah’s primary local news sources was conducted to discover if and how people of color are represented. The results were also manipulated to discover if the exclusion of classically stereotypical news categories would significantly alter representation. Findings reveal that Utah’s largest ethnic group is primarily ignored while other ethnic groups often but not always fall into stereotypical representations or no representation at all.
  • Anya Gurholt, Westminster College
    Mentor: Michael Markowski, Ph.D., History, Westminster College

    The Androgyny of Enlightenment: Questioning Women’s Status in Ancient Indian Religions

    This paper examines the relationship between women’s role in early Indian religions and the concept of androgyny found in ancient Indian texts. In many ways, the practices of early Indian Religions (Buddhism and Vedic Religions), were extremely andocentric and patriarchal. However, when further examining some of the textual foundations and principles of these religions, it becomes clear that a number of their fundamental teachings are neither sexist nor patriarchal. Indeed, they possess concepts and principles that are exactly contrary to patriarchy and sexism. Therefore, although early Indian religious institutions were often patriarchal and discriminatory towards women in practice, many of the fundamental principles of these religions were egalitarian.
  • Jim Moreno, University of Utah
    Mentor: Paul Monty Paret, Ph.D., Art History, University of Utah

    Robert Rauschenberg, Performance and the Visual Arts in the 1950's and 60's

    Photos and Figures

    This paper will consider Robert Rauschenberg’s use of performance to further explore ideas already embedded within his visual artworks. His compositional processes and operational strategies will be scrutinized to distinguish commonalities and dissimilarities in his approaches. In particular, Rauschenberg’s effort to conflate seemingly disparate genres or concepts will be examined not as a mere act of blending, but as a method of juxtaposition that allows differences to coexist and manifest into an artwork not already defined.
  • Laura Richey, Westminster College
    Mentor: Lesa Ellis, Ph.D., Psychology, Westminster College

    The Relationship between Risk-Taking and Adolescent Pubertal Status

    While there are a number of social theories for increased risk-taking in adolescence, certain biological theories suggest an evolutionary component for adolescent risk-taking. It has been suggested that biological brain changes associated with puberty may play a role in such increases (Spear, 2000), as well as decreases in fear levels. The current study examines whether adolescent pubertal status is related to their levels of temperamental surgency, a construct encompassing individual differences in high intensity pleasure, fear, and shyness. Ninety middle school students in the Western United States (38 males and 52 females) ranging from age 11.5 – 14.5 (mean = 13.1) completed self-report measures of pubertal status and surgency. Results indicate that adolescent levels of surgency increase as pubertal status increases. Age, however, was not significantly associated with surgency levels. These results suggest that biology (specifically puberty) may be a significant factor in adolescent behavior. Future research should seek to employ improved measures of adolescent pubertal status as well as risk-taking behavior.
  • Moana Hansen, University of Utah
    Mentor: Haruko Moriyasu, Ethnic Studies, University of Utah

    The Loss and Transformation of the Tongan Culture and its Effect on Tongan American Families in Utah

    The process of acculturation has resulted in the loss and transformation of the Tongan culture, values and traditions. Several Tongan customs and traditions have been altered or neglected in order for Tongans to conform to the American way of life. This modification of the Tongan culture has impacted the Tongan American born generation and has contributed to a loss of Tongan identity. The reconstruction and neglect of Tongan values has inevitably effected the younger American born generation and has contributed to social ills among the Tongan American communities such as gangs, the breakdown of the family structure, the lack of respect between the youth and elders and many young Tongans not succeeding or advancing in the American educational system. These issues, which were once foreign to Tongans in the islands, are now becoming acceptable behavior among the younger Tongan American generations. There is a growing concern among many Tongan Americans that the Tongan culture will become lost and that the younger generation will lose a sense of their cultural identity.

2005 Research Scholars

  • Mario Castillo, Westminster College
    Mentor: Michael Popich, Ph.D., Philosophy, Westminster College

    The Efficacy of Nonviolent Militancy: An Examination of Two Successful Nonviolent Movements

    The aim of this research project is threefold. The first and second objective is to provide a historical portrait of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s Salt March of 1930 and the Birmingham Campaign of 1963 led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Three questions will be addressed in the examination of these two successful nonviolent social movements: first, what was the problem or condition that necessitated nonviolent civil disobedience? Second, what was Gandhi and King’s intended purpose for violating the law? And third, what action was taken in favor of the oppressed as a result of the demonstrations that made the movement a success? The final objective of this research project is to identify the ‘base criteria’ that were essential to the success of both movements. I will argue that the three components of a nonviolent social movement that are conjointly necessary for its success include: planned, organized, and strategic direct action; the type of leadership (charismatic); and the type of government (democratic).
  • Kasey Serdar, Westminster College
    Mentor: Lesa Ellis, Ph.D., Psychology, Westminster College

    Multicultural Relations in Higher Education:
    Students’ Perceptions of College Professor Verbal Immediacy as Impacted by Race

    As the percentage of minorities enrolled in education increases, it is vital to consider how the racial background of students and teachers impacts students’ capacity to communicate with their instructors. The present study examined whether students’ ratings of professors’ verbal immediacy differed based on both the race of the student, and that of the professor. Two-hundred-seventy-eight college students (from White/Caucasian, Black/African-American, and Hispanic/Latino backgrounds) were surveyed about their perceptions of the verbal immediacy of a fictitious professor of a race either congruent or incongruent with their own. Results indicated that students viewed professors of an incongruent race to be less verbally immediate. This difference approached significance at trend level, and was strongest for the Black/African-American group. These findings underscore the impact of racial relations and perceptions on interactions in educational settings, regardless of subject content and pedagogical style.
  • Aliesha L. Shaw, University of Utah
    Mentor: Karol Kumpfer, Ph.D., Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah

    Strengthening Families Program: Outcomes for African-American VS. non African-American Families

    Over the past 10 years research into risk and resilience has increased significantly as well as interventions to improve resilience to negative unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse, risky sex, violence, and poor nutrition. However, little has been explored when it comes specifically to African-Americans. This purpose of this research study is to examine the level of resilience in African-Americans compared to non-African Americans who are participating in the first prevention program designed specifically to increase resilience to unhealthy behaviors—namely the Strengthening Families Program (Kumpfer & Whiteside, 2005). The authors will explore baseline differences in the risk and protective factors associated with African-American resilience, particularly in regards to substance abuse as compared to other non-African Americans. People of different races/cultures tend to be raised in different environments and therefore may be exposed to different risk and protective factors. Depending on the environment in which one was raised, certain protective factors may have been stressed more than others while certain risks may have been more prevalent than others. Even if people of different races/cultures are exposed to the same risk and protective factors, it still isn’t clear if these factors affect African-Americans differently than non African-Americans.
  • James A. Garang, University of Utah
    Mentor: Thomas Maloney, Ph.D., Economics, University of Utah

    Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation and Political Institutions: Sources of Africa's Underdevelopment

    Cover page and Table of Contents

    This paper examines the relationship between Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation (ELF) and economic growth in Africa. Theories of African underdevelopment are reviewed. The recent emphasis on Ethno-Linguistic Fragmentation as a source of underdevelopment is examined in detail. A simple regression is estimated to test the relationship between ELF and economic growth using recent data (1983-2001). The regression shows that there is negative correlation between growth and ELF. From the regression results, I identify a few countries for further study aimed at identifying the effect of political institutions on ethnic conflict. I find that African nations have used various tactics to combat the negative effect of ethnic divisions. Some African nations have employed inclusive while others have resorted to exclusionary approaches to politics. Overall, this study suggests that there is some negative correlation between growth and ethno-linguistic fragmentation and that political and social institutions may lessen these effects of ELF.