Monday, April 21, 2014

Urban Studies and the Annual Celebration of Scholarhip and Creativity

On April 16, 2014, WSU hosted its annual Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, and the Department of Urban Studies turned out in force. With more than 20 graduate and undergraduate students joining the department faculty and staff to participate, the department presented one talk (Prof. Gordon) and a half-dozen posters (one that featured 3 different projects).  


Pictures of the day are at the right and the poster/presentation abstracts are below. 





DIGNIFY AFRICA MOVEMENT: REDEFINING AFRICA

Shiko Gathuo, Ph.D.
  • Ask most people what they know about Africa, and they will narrate an inevitable litany of ills: ethnic conflicts and civil wars; famine and widespread starvation; HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; savagery and exotic traditions; despair and hopelessness. Africa is not only the butt of jokes; people are apt to make stereotypical statements about the continent without giving thought to either the truthfulness or the consequences of their statements. True, Africa has many problems, and many of its people live in poverty. There is, however, always more than one side to any story. For Africa, only one side has emerged. The mission of Dignify Africa Movement is to dignify Africa and its people by changing the existing narrative about the continent. We do this in two ways with this poster presentation: 1) we showcase Africa by highlighting the untold everyday stories and positive developments, and 2) we fight the negative stereotypes, falsehoods and misrepresentation perpetrated against the continent. 


HEAD START: A NECESSARY INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE
Kaleigh McManus

Faculty Advisor: Thomas Conroy, Ph.D.
  • As the pressure to reduce the national debt remains the driving force behind budget cuts in the national budget, Head Start is a program affected deeper than other organizations. Head Start runs on a budget that is inadequate for the amount of resources that the program needs. During the 2013 sequester, Head Start programs across the country closed their doors, reduced the number of children served, and laid off teachers and staff. This not only hurt the students, but their parents and society as a whole. If every child who lived in poverty had access to a Head Start program, the economy as a whole would be stronger, and the government could avoid the cost of future services that would not be so greatly relied upon as a result of the availability of Head Start. These services can include after-school programs, tutoring for students, social services or even incarceration later in life. This research paper and poster presentation will prove that cutting funding for Head Start programs results in financial repercussions for state and national governments.



WSU STUDENTS IN THE COMMUITY: THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS PROGRAM
Samuel Demma, Jean Abdulla, Dannielle Morrow, Tom Savini
Faculty Advisor: Madeline Otis Campbell, Ph.D.

  • The English Language Learners program, sponsored by the Intergenerational Urban Institute and the department of Urban Studies, facilitates relationships among WSU students and English language learners of all ages from the community. This for-credit practicum is an experiential learning course, which provides students with the opportunity to teach conversational English, assist community members preparing for citizenship, and form community based relationships. In the process, an intercultural exchange happens as tutors and learners share their stories and perspectives. Recently the program has expanded beyond the WSU classroom to three off-site locations in the Worcester community: an elder Worcester Housing Authority site, the Worcester Senior Center, and the Nu Cafe. WSU students tutor Iraqi, Lebanese, Albanian, Russian, Chinese, and Colombian learners, filling a need in the community and receiving a uniquely personal, global perspective. This poster will highlight the work of the ELL program, identifying the student as well as community outcomes achieved.

SUSPENSION IN WORCESTER: A CONTINUING CONVERSATION
Dannielle Morrow, Jenny Velez

Faculty Advisor Thomas Conroy, Ph.D., Madeline Otis Campbell, Ph.D.
  • During spring 2013, the Latino Education Institute at Worcester State University and the Worcester Education Collaborative analyzed demographic and suspension data related to the Worcester Public Schools system. This data came from federal, state, and local sources, particularly from the Office of Civil Rights, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Worcester Public Schools data warehouse.

RISING FOOD INSECURITY IN WORCESTER COUNTY
Barbara Lucci, Thea Aschkenase, Marta Baclawska, Amy Boucher, Mary Chenaille, Rachel Geary, Judy Knight, Mary Ellen Macuen, LissaAnn Minichiello, Jenifer Seifart
Faculty Advisor: Maureen Power, Ph.D.

  • This poster presentation will demonstrate the ways the Hunger Outreach Team (HOT) located in Urban Studies continues to fight hunger in the Worcester community. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program that helps put food on the table. HOT is an intergenerational advocacy group of students, ages 20 to 90, that assists elders in the community and students on campus in applying for SNAP benefits. The team uses a SNAP Bingo game to educate elders at senior centers. Only one-third of eligible elders apply for SNAP, and many Worcester State University students are unaware they are eligible. Every $5 in SNAP benefits stimulates $9 in the local economy. Congress reduced SNAP benefits by nearly 40 billion, making it even more important for those eligible to receive the benefits. HOT members advocate for legislative reform in hunger disparities. The annual Empty Bowl event on campus raises funds for local assistance.

ADDRESSING BLIGHT: A COMPREHENSIVE RE-USE PROPOSAL FOR LINCOLN SQUARE
Desiree Cunningham, Michael Falzarano
Faculty Advisor: Thomas Conroy, Ph.D.


  • Through a combination of research objectives, this project aims to reveal possible methods that community members and the city of Worcester can employ to actively participate in determining the future of Lincoln Square. By addressing blight with architectural solutions, geography-based data and a myriad of strategic planning initiatives, Worcester’s historically endangered Lincoln Square could again become an integral part of the city’s urban landscape.

GROWING RELATIONSHIPS, COMMUNITY AND PRODUCE AT THE WSU GARDEN FOR ALL AGES
George Ayanga, Rachel Geary, Breana Hatch, Jack Kelly, Tyler Levine, Brogan Mulligan, Jenifer Seifart, Linda Barrett, Mary Chenaille, Eileen Rodgers, Pam Saffer, Dorothea Simmons
Faculty Advisor: Maureen Power, Ph.D.

  • Now in its third growing season, the Garden for ALL Ages adjacent to Chandler Magnet School has transformed what once was a neighborhood eyesore into a rich and beautiful outdoor learning environment. Not only vegetables, but flowers and herbs grow in this garden; relationships do as well. This poster presentation will show how residents of neighboring Bet Shalom, eight Chandler Magnet classes (two of which are special needs), and the Worcester State University garden team are working together to expand the garden and the growing season. To offset the cold winter, portable greenhouses (with support from Theme Semester) have been erected in the Bet Shalom community room and the Chandler Magnet classrooms. Plans for higher raised beds and special pathways will make it wheelchair accessible. Bird houses, a butterfly garden, and medicinal native plants and herbs will make it a great community resource and rich learning environment for all ages.

CHOLERA IN WORCESTER: A STUDY OF THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY PUBLIC HEALTH MOVEMENT
Alan Ira Gordon, Instructor

  • This study was published in the winter of 2014 issue of the Historical Journal of Massachusetts and compares the municipal, medical and social responses in Worcester to the 1849 and 1866 national cholera outbreaks. While public attitudes towards both epidemics demonstrated the misguided idea that cholera was a disease of immoral intemperance, the medical and municipal responses to the later epidemic reveal a shift from finding a cure to preventing the disease. When confronting the later epidemic, Worcester’s municipal leaders mobilized resources to promote sanitation. Worcester’s response to these two epidemics offers a case study of the important role that cholera played in the rise of the public health movement in America.


 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A New Season at the WSU Garden for All Ages


Even though it's still cold out there, the days are getting longer and they're slowly warming up.  At least, we hope they are.  

But in the Department of Urban Studies, we're also making preparations for this year's growing season at the WSU Garden for All Ages. 

Members of the garden team have been meeting all semester and now they're putting their plans into motion. They've installed small greenhouses in Chandler Magnet School and Bet Shalom Apartments, and they're working with students, teachers, and community members to stock them with seedlings in anticipation of the warmer days.  

At left (or below depending on your browser), Urban Studies student Tyler Levine works with a Bet Shalom resident installing the first of the greenhouse seedlings. 

We're anticipating a great year in the garden.  If you are interested in learning more or helping out, drop us a line at UrbanStudies@worcester.edu.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

NSF, Art of Science Learning Fellows

Urban Studies students Dannielle Morrow and Nick Beaudoin (pictured at the right), along with Dr. Thomas Conroy, began their year-long fellowships with the National Science Foundation, Art of Science Learning this weekend.  

The project has three national "incubator cities" 
across the country, each working on a separate civil problem. San Diego is working on water resources; Chicago is working on urban nutrition, and the Worcester incubator is working on transportation. 

The first session was at the Ecotarium, a local NSF partner.  Other sessions will be held at Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  


For more information, click for a Worcester Telegram article about it. 





Friday, February 28, 2014

Recent Urban Studies Department Scholarship


New CityLab Report

Urban Studies faculty and students have recently released a new CityLab report, Suspension in Worcester:  A Continuing Conversation.  

Written by Dr. Thomas Conroy and Dr. Madeline Otis Campbell with Urban Studies students Dannielle Morrow and Jennifer Velez, the report explores the reasons behind a suspension disparity in Worcester Public Schools.  In that disparity, Latino students, who comprise 38% of the WPS population receive 53% of the total system suspensions.  The report solicited input from students, parents, teachers, and principals to better understand the story behind the statistics. 

The Vincent "Jake" Powers CityLab is a research instiute and archives housed in and managed by the Department of Urban Studies.  Its mission is to engage in informative projects with and for the people, groups, and organizations of Central Massachusetts about topics of interest to their lives and the world around them. 

Student To Present Paper at Conference

Kaitlyn Benoit, a junior Urban Studies/History major, will present a paper at the April 2014 Meeting of the New England Historical Association. 

The paper, entitled "Illusion Wrapped in Superficiality":  The Civil Rights Movement in Worcester, MA, came out of her Urban Studies coursework last semester and the title comes from a Martin Luther King, Jr. speech delivered in the Temple Emanuel in Worcester, across from Worcester State University. 

Katie will join 5 other WSU students from the History Department, and history professors Dr. Tona Hangen, Dr. Erika Briesacher, and Prof. Bruce Cohen in presenting papers at the conference.  For more see:  http://www.newenglandhistorians.org/
 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Recent Alum News

Congratulations to two alums on their recent endeavors: 

  • Katie Donovan, a 1996 department graduate who works in the City of Worcester Inspectional Services Office, will be honored in March with one of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau's Thomas S. Green Public Service Awards

  • Elizabeth Malone, Class of 2011, has been accepted into the graduate program in Public Humanities at Brown University for next fall. 
 
If you have any updates or news we can share with the department, current students, and other grads, send a message to one of the faculty members or to urbanstudies@worcester.edu
 
 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New CityLab Acquisitions


The New (right foreground) and Old (back left)
Union Stations in Washington Square. 
CityLab has recently acquired a good number of research materials from a bulk purchase at an antiquarian book sale. 

Among the new volumes are additional City Directories and House Directories, some institutional histories, and three years of the monthly Worcester Magazine (1912-1914). Of particular interest in the Worcester Magazines are the descriptive articles and images including the one on the right. 

Below you can find a detailed list of the new materials.  You can also go to the developing CityLab webpage to explore an in-progress listing of the CityLab Collection.


A Tribute to the Columbian Year by the City of Worcester, a graphic exhibit of a city of diversified industries Board of Trade Book 1893 Purchase, November 2013
Annual Report, No. 144, fiscal year ending June 30, 1990 City of Worcester Report 1990 Purchase, November 2013
Our Progress, History 1861-1927 Scandinavian Societies' Building Association, Inc., Worcester, Mass Book 1927 Purchase, November 2013
The Constitution and By-Laws and House Rules of the Worcester Club, with Lists of Officiers and Members The Worcester Club Book 1895 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester City Directory, 1897   Book, Directory 1897 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester City Directory, 1901   Book, Directory 1901 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester City Directory, 1921   Book, Directory 1921 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester City Directory, 1922   Book, Directory 1922 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Classical and English High School, a record of forty-seven years Roe, Alfred S. (principal, 1880-1890 Book 1892 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester House Directory, 1906   Book, Directory 1906 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester House Directory, 1910   Book, Directory 1910 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester House Directory, 1926   Book, Directory 1926 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, April 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, April 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, April, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, August 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, August, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, December 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, December 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, December, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, February 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, February, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, January 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, January 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, January, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, July 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, July 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, July, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, June 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, June 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, June, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, March 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, March 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, March, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, May 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, May 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, May, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, November 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, November 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, November, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, October 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, October, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, September 1912   Periodical 1912 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, September 1914   Periodical 1914 Purchase, November 2013
Worcester Magazine, September, 1913   Periodical 1913 Purchase, November 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An AUD Afternoon

A group of Urban Studies students and Dr. Tom Conroy toured the inside of the Worcester Memorial Auditorium recently.  Traveling both deep and high into the building, they were able to explore many areas not generally seen by people even when the structure was open.

How they got there has everything to do with the department capstone course. 

One of the capstone students, Desiree Cunningham, has been researching the AUD's history and previous plans for its preservation as part of her project.  She is now putting together a preliminary study of the building and working on a proposal of her own.  But during one of the writing workshop days in which students commented on each other's draft papers, Desiree noted that she while she now knows all this information about the AUD, she has never been into the building.  At that point, we began to make some calls about gaining access.

As befits the collaborative dynamic we like to build in the department, the other Public Administration & Planning-oriented students who joined Desiree have been helping her make sense of her research.  Good colleagues all, most of them are simultaneously working on their own capstones, too.  

Thanks to the City of Worcester, City Councilor George Russell (Urban Studies, '81), the Mayor's Office and particularly Michael Lanava for their assistance in setting this up.