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Completed Distance Mentored Projects


Century America Digital Liberal Arts Project Part 2

  • Students
  • Britta Buchanan and Colm Macnab
  • University of Minnesota, Morris
  • Student
  • Victoria Carter
  • University of Virginia’s College at Wise
  • Student
  • Joy Feagan
  • New College of Florida
  • Students
  • Laura Galbraith and Joseph Hadwal
  • Midwestern State University
  • Student
  • James Hudec
  • University of Alberta, Augustana
  • Student
  • Kana Hummel
  • New College of Florida
  • Student
  • Benjamin Jarrell
  • University of North Carolina Asheville
  • Student
  • Ashley McGhee
  • University of North Carolina Asheville
  • Student
  • Summer Roasting
  • University of Alberta, Augustana
  • Student
  • Dakota Stanley
  • University of Virginia’s College at Wise
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Jeff McClurken
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Ellen Pearson
  • University of North Carolina Asheville

In this second iteration of the Century America course, students continued to build a digital history website that offers a snapshot of life and community at small colleges at an important time in America’s history. In addition to completing important guided research on their home institutions, student researchers contributed to the building of the multi-campus digital “Century America” site. The participants worked in a digital medium, developed skills in areas of digital presentation and collaborative research, and honed these important skills for professional success in the new century. The website can be found here.


Homelessness and Gender

  • Student
  • Brittani Sullivan
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Jennifer Rogalsky
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Black and Africana Studies

In this research project, I desire to research homelessness through a gender lens, focusing on women and their experiences with becoming homeless. I intend to obtain more knowledge and clear understanding on the feminization of homelessness through an extensive literature review. I will also conduct anonymous surveys in Durango and Denver, Colorado, while comparing these case studies to the United States as a whole. I will also integrate first-hand experiences from people who took the leap in being voluntarily homeless. I will also explore the topic of homeless motherhood.


Experiences of Gendered Poverty

  • Student
  • Samantha Haeussner
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Sheila Katz
  • Sonoma State University
  • Sociology

This project seeks to understand how gendered poverty is experienced in an affluent community. Previous research on low-income women in poverty is focused around what services that are offered to them, the politics as well as ideologies surrounding those services, and how women interact with those services. Looking at gendered poverty only through a service lens does not tell the whole story about women’s lives in poverty. Some broader questions ought to be answered. How do women understand themselves as women when they are experiencing poverty? How do they sense that others perceive them? What do they find unique about their situations as women? What are the problems or joys they experience? Grounded in a participatory research approach, these questions as well as others will be discussed. I will collect qualitative data from interviews and small focus groups comprised of women whose income is below federal poverty levels and live in or have lived in “temporary” housing in the form of hotels and motels for an extended period of time. The goal is to highlight women’s narratives as important perspectives that can help expand our understanding of the agentic ways women navigate economic and social marginalization within a prosperous community.


Century America Digital Liberal Arts Project

  • Student
  • Christopher Hightower
  • Montevallo
  • Student
  • Leah Tams
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Student
  • Candice Roland
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Student
  • Christos Stravoravdis
  • Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Student
  • Ryan Sucy
  • University of Maine at Farmington
  • Student
  • Jennifer Marks
  • Truman State University
  • Student
  • Jack Hylan
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Student
  • Dara Fillmore
  • University of Wisconsin-Superior
  • Student
  • Alisia True
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Student
  • Julia Wood
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Student
  • Colin Nimer
  • Southern Utah University
  • Student
  • James Horn
  • Shepherd University
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Jeff McClurken
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Ellen Pearson
  • University of North Carolina Asheville

Students will build a digital history website that offers a snapshot of life and community at small colleges at an important time in America’s history. In addition to completing important guided research on their home institutions, student researchers will contribute to the building of the multi-campus digital “Century America” site. The participants will work in a digital medium, develop skills in areas of digital presentation and collaborative research, and hone these important skills for professional success in the new century. Read the Spotlight article and the News item about this project. The course website can be found here.


A Feminist Analysis of College Hook-up Culture

  • Student
  • Kelly Avant
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Gina Velasco
  • Keene State College
  • Women's and Gender Studies

There is a need for research on the changing narratives of gender and sexuality that emerge in college hook-up culture. Through my research I offer a sex-positive feminist analysis from the unique perspective of a cultural insider. My study explores the strict gendered narratives and the problematic realities of a system that mirrors patriarchal values and produces inequalities. I propose a case study utilizing an Internet forum called “FLC Confessions” that allows students to post anonymously about their sexual encounters. These websites exist all over the country and are an untapped academic resource to understanding modern sexual relationships. I will code posts based on key terms for expressions of gendered expectations, dissatisfaction, and sexual coercion, and interpret their relevance to existing work from scholars such as Lisa Wade, Kathleen Bogle and Simone de Beauvoir. This work is necessary to determine the best ways to address inequalities, and create opportunities for empowerment. It is important for me to utilize the expertise of a distance mentor with a specific emphasis in gender studies that cannot be provided by faculty members on my campus. I will draw on Professor Velasco’s expertise in feminist research to prepare an article for publication.


Food and Art

  • Student
  • Chelsea Butkowski
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Gregg Siewert
  • Truman State University
  • French

The first phase of my project would focus on the employment of food related imagery and symbolism in works of art. It would span throughout the history of art—to the Greeks and Romans—but would be most heavily concentrated on modern and contemporary art. For the second phase of the project, I would include a history of food culture, pinpointing the difference between food as an art form and a survival necessity. Finally, I hope read to contemporary chef’s accounts of food as an art form and passion—likely including primary interviews with chefs (and perhaps artists) as well. My goal is to compare and contrast the role that food plays in fine art with food as an art form in itself and the symbolism it embodies in real life.

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Chronotopes in Chivalric Romances

  • Student
  • Sean Fischer
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Ken Tiller
  • University of Virginia's College at Wise
  • Language and Literature

The chronotope is a theoretical concept developed by M.M. Bakhtin, which relates how time and space affect a piece of literature. My project aims to examine the chronotopes present in Chivalric Romances, such as Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. Additionally, I aim to explore the motivating agents behind the implementation of the chronotope, as well as the effects of the chronotopes on genre, character development, and overall message of each work. The research in regards to genre is going to be a particularly large area of interest for me, as I hope to examine the relationships between romance and counter-romance, and subsequently explain any similarities or differences through how each genre makes use of chronotopes.

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User Interface Design for Surveys

  • Student
  • Yang Li
  • Truman State University
  • Mentor
  • Mark Cohen
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Computer Science

The research proposes to study how user interface design in webpages and web applications could assist survey designers to achieve their survey objectives and/or improve the current design of surveys. Two or more different user experiences will be presented to survey participants, and all user interactions with the web-based survey will be automatically recorded by a tracking mechanism preprogrammed into the survey. The research participants will mostly be Truman State University students who will voluntarily participate. The recorded human computer interaction data will be analyzed to test the hypothesis, and develop strategic recommendations for user experience improvement. The research will begin with preliminary studies of the topic, and further refinement and implementations will follow.

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Asset-Price Bubbles and Student Loans

  • Student
  • Marty Rogachefsky
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Steven Greenlaw
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Economics

I will be completing a research project on the economic and policy-oriented consequences of a potential asset-price bubble in the market for student loans. Having taken courses such as "The Housing Crisis" and "Money and Financial Intermediation," I have taken an interest in asset-price bubbles, particularly in the most recent bubble in the housing market. Given the fact that I see tuition prices and student borrowing at an all-time high with entry-level positions becoming less available by the day, a crisis in the student loans market has come to my attention as a potential pitfall of the American economy. Through econometric analysis and study of past bubbles, I hope to identify precipitating factors of a bubble in student loans and pose potential solutions and/or recommendations that can be attained from a policy perspective.

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Egyptian Policies and Capitalism

  • Student
  • Nikita Rumsey
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Sumi Colligan
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Anthropology

I intend to explore how Egyptian policies under and after Mubarak have facilitated the increased penetration of global, or Western, capitalism into Egyptian society. Through the lens of relevant critical and postcolonial theorists, I shall examine various ethnographic sources to investigate how contemporary political and economic processes have affected expressions of Egyptian culture, such as the intersections of religious interpretations and class and gender identity. In so doing, I will explore how certain cultural manifestations, such as Egyptian Islamic movements, reflect and are produced by transnational neoliberal logics, generating forms of subjecthood that embody contradictory local and global influences. Furthermore, I shall consider how these cultural trends act as forms of subversion and resistance to the neoliberal apparatus.

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Immigration and Family Separation

  • Student
  • Gina Villazhinay
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Dale Fink
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Education

I propose to conduct a study in which I will interview other college students or adults who have been separated from their parents, through emigration and immigration, and who have been reunited again. We want to (a) find out what issues are identified in published research studies on this subject; (b) determine how these issues do or do not play among individuals I identify as study participants. I see this as a good way to learn more about this subject that is of personal interest to me and also a good way to learn about designing and carrying out interviews in a qualitative research study.


Impact of Structural Inequalities on Hispanics/Latinos

  • Student
  • Analia Albuja
  • Truman State University
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Sumi Colligan
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Anthropology

This project seeks to explore the relationship between Hispanic populations in the United States and Healthcare. By reviewing and analyzing relevant literature, we hope to better understand how structural inequalities impact the health of Hispanics. Our first interest is to examine historical and societal factors that have given rise to these inequalities over time. With this foundation, we plan to identify health patterns found amongst Hispanics, such as any diseases that are overrepresented. Once we have pinpointed what health issues are especially prominent in these populations, we can attempt to identify the factors that contribute to them and explain these patterns. We will evaluate the effects of socioeconomic factors, geographical locations of communalities, the legal status of residents and occupational hazards. Findings will be shared in a 30 minute Skype presentation to a "Culture, Health and Illness" class at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. The Project will be overseen by Dr. Sumi Colligan, a medical anthropologist and faculty member at MCLA.

Read the research paper here.


Parliamentary Enclosures of the 19th Century

  • Student
  • Chelsea Beresford
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Gail Savage
  • St. Mary's College of Maryland
  • British History

This project will survey twentieth-century secondary scholarship on the topic of English parliamentary enclosures during the early nineteenth century. Historians have differed widely over the causes of enclosure and the impact of this legislation on the landless poor. Once the main lines of interpretation have been discussed, the project will turn to the wider cultural and religious views informing the enclosure acts, how emerging notions of agricultural efficiency and labor discipline in the early industrial revolution helped shape elite attitudes toward the causes of poverty.

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Artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

  • Student
  • Mamie Cox
  • Truman State University
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Elizabeth Gand
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Art History

Mamie Cox along with Dr. Elizabeth Gand, Assistant Professor of Art History at Fort Lewis College will complete extensive readings, discussions and a large research project which discusses the life and art of Post-Impressionist artist, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Lautrec had lifelong problems with his legs and mobility as a result of stunted growth. It is widely held, that because of his disabilities, Lautrec distanced himself from the aristocratic world in which he was brought up and opted for a more bohemian lifestyle in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris where he felt she was more easily accepted. The social history of late nineteenth-century Montmartre Paris where Lautrec spent most of his artistic career and was the direct inspiration for many of his painting and posters will be studied, along with the newly emerging field of disability studies. These reading sand discussions will culminate in a substantial research paper ranging of approximately 25-35 pages completed by the end of the Spring 2013 semester.

Read the research paper here.


Facebook and Peer Pressure

  • Student
  • Amanda DeCarlo
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Karol Maybury
  • University of Maine at Farmington
  • Social Psychology

Our study is examining how people perceive others’ status updates on social media sites (like Facebook). We are examining whether the number of “likes” received by a person’s status update impacts a fresh viewers’ ratings of that status update. The hypothesis is that informational conformity will play a role in users’ personal assessment of a particular status update. We predict that viewers who see status updates with a high number of “likes” will rate it as more humorous, appropriate, and entertaining. The increasing pervasiveness of social media and electronic communication makes this study extremely relevant to the realm of person perception and social psychology.

Read the research paper here.


Gender in Medieval Literature

  • Student
  • Hillary O'Brien
  • Keene State University
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Teresa Kennedy
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Medieval Literature

A twelfth-century text, The Lais of Marie de France, provides stores of verse romance. Typical of courtly literature, her lais tend to focus on chivalry and courtly love. Among the many romances the three that I hope to focus on are “Guigemar”, “Yonec”, and “Bisclavret” is cursed to often transform into a werewolf. I will examine the medieval meanings attributed to these animals in the most contemporary Bestiary text and possibly in Celtic mythology, which Marie may have drawn upon, to find the latent meaning behind Marie’s use of them.


Income Gap and Crime Rates

  • Student
  • Chris Rieve
  • University of Mary Washington
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Bill Lofquist
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Sociology

This project will study the relationship between the income gap and the crime rate based on comparisons between the European Union states or the United States. In either of these comparisons we will be looking at the impact of a more socialistic program, to one that is not as socialistic. We will compare the governmental structures and how effective they are at preventing crime.

Read the research paper here.


Topics in Japanese Literature

  • Student
  • Kalynn Smith
  • Midwestern State University
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Nozomi Irei
  • Southern Utah University
  • English

During my elementary and middle school years in Hawaii I was exposed to Japanese culture. Rather than the typical Spanish or French classes in school, we were offered Japanese, which taught us a little of the language and culture. By reading and watching certain materials, I gained an understanding of even more, such as mythology and history. Now that I’m older and have access to more academic materials, I’ve done some light research over other aspects of Japanese culture such as Bushido, the Bakumatsu and the Meiji era, among others. However, as an English major, I want to know more in the way of Japanese literature as well as its history I would to study Japanese writers and how their culture is presented in fiction.

Read the research paper here.


Presidential Rhetoric in Public Speeches

  • Student
  • John Tienken
  • University of Illinois Springfield
  • Mentor
  • Dr. Jay Self
  • Truman State University
  • Communications

As American presidential rhetoric has evolved over the last 225 years, this research project will examine how the expectations of presidential vernacular have developed or changed. Many have argues that this evolution has been degeneration to an anti-intellectual presidency; others contend that the purpose of presidential rhetoric has changed, and still others believe that the quantity of presidential speeches has diminished the quality. Obviously there is difference in style, between president and over time, but at a deeper level, the content of presidential rhetoric seems to be different. The intellectual rigor has changed and the emotional tenor has evolved in presidential speeches. My project will answer what is behind this change by looking at a selection of presidential speeches.

Read the research paper here.


COPLAC Brand Refresh

  • Student
  • Pei Miller
  • Shepherd University
  • Student
  • Michael Haynes
  • Shepherd University
  • Student
  • Joannie Drake
  • SUNY Geneseo
  • Mentor
  • Kristin Kaineg
  • Shepherd University

Mentor, Kristin Kaineg, will lead a team of three students, Pei Miller, Michael Haynes and Joannie Drake through the exciting and complex steps necessary to rebrand an existing non-profit organization. The long distance team will explore the key messages of the brand, research like-minded organizations, profile the target audience, create a new identity, and deliver a cohesive design campaign for the organization.


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