Poverty Simulation provides eye-opening perspective for students

Students from a variety of health disciplines learned firsthand recently the challenges faced by low-income families in a Poverty Simulation held on the University of Indianapolis campus.

Public Health students, in conjunction with the physical therapy program, participate in a Poverty Simulation on May 23, 2017. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis

The Poverty Simulation, organized by Anne Mejia-Downs, associate professor, and Julie Gahimer, professor, Krannert School of Physical Therapy, serves as an introductory activity to the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) Service Learning Course. DPT students were joined by PT assistant, nursing and public health graduate and undergraduate students for the event. 

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UIndy master’s program builds community leadership through public art

It’s early on a Friday evening in May – before the crowds arrive at the Tube Factory in the Garfield Park neighborhood – and Big Car CEO and co-founder Jim Walker is talking about the powerful role the arts have in transforming and building communities.

Art is not just something you see in a gallery or museum, said Walker, whose expertise lies in social practice and placemaking, a type of art that leverages community assets to create public spaces that promote health, happiness and well-being.

“Instead of making a piece of art that’s an object, we’re making things happen,” explained Walker, who brings that vision to a new, one-year intensive program at the University of Indianapolis. The new master’s program in Social Practice Art, which is unique for Indiana, prepares students to become community leaders by leveraging the power of the arts. 

Jim Walker, co-founder of Big Car, will teach courses in Social Practice Art at UIndy starting in the fall of 2017.

Jim Walker, co-founder of Big Car, will teach courses in Social Practice Art at UIndy starting in the fall of 2017.

Developed by Jim Walker and Kevin McKelvey, associate professor of English, the program connects students with degrees in art & design, theatre, dance, music or creative writing with community stakeholders to engage in social practice and creative placemaking. The result is a participatory art form that empowers and transforms communities, and one which has been gaining in popularity in recent years. Walker and McKelvey will oversee the program, which is still accepting applications for the fall of 2017.

The vibrant atmosphere of the Tube Factory provides the perfect backdrop to talk about the University’s MA in Social Practice Art program, as it represents an example of social practice art in action. The formerly vacant 12,000-square-foot building on Cruft St. has been renovated into a welcoming space where the Big Car arts collective, founded by Walker in 2004, hosts cultural events and partnership-based community meetings.

Related: Big Car launches affordable home ownership program for artists

Walker pointed out the value of bringing art to underserved neighborhoods and giving residents an outlet to voice their opinions. The program will also focus on grant writing, social entrepreneurship and community sociology.

The Tube Factory on Cruft St. Photo courtesy Big Car.

The Tube Factory. Photo courtesy Big Car.

“Art and culture are important elements of everybody’s lives, so the kind of art that we’re working on here actually seeks out input from community members. When they’re invited to participate, it’s a way to show people that art isn’t some kind of exclusive thing. In that way it can help make a difference for the community,” Walker said.

In many ways, Walker’s new role at the University is a logical extension of Big Car’s south side success story. Walker, who lives in the Garfield Park neighborhood, is a well-known community builder on the Indianapolis arts scene. He has taught art history at the University of Indianapolis and art and writing at other area universities. Big Car held its ten-year anniversary exhibition at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center in 2014.

The Social Practice Arts program builds on several of the University’s community-partnership initiatives, including the Quality of Life plan for the Indianapolis south side, and the Gene and Mary Ann Zink Poverty Institute, a University initiative to end poverty driven by an evidence-based and outcome-oriented strategy.

Making a difference in local neighborhoods will be a key focus of the program. Students will have the opportunity to work at Big Car’s Tube Factory, where they can learn to manage arts-related events and encourage community involvement. “This is a really good laboratory for students to learn in, get off campus and get involved. The connection between UIndy and our space is a pretty important one,” Walker added.

McKelvey explained that the multidisciplinary approach of the program combines with the University’s service-learning focus to attract artists who want to give back to the community. The program will embrace community involvement and prepare students to effectively lead and engage community leaders in projects that have a broad impact on the quality of life.

“From cities to smaller communities, these ideas around placemaking and social practice are really starting to take hold,” McKelvey said.

Learn more about UIndy’s Social Practice Arts Program here.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

Research events highlight UIndy-Community Health Network partnership

The University of Indianapolis held the first annual Health Pavilion Scholarship Day in May to showcase research conducted by students and faculty in the health sciences disciplines. Held in tandem with the Community Health Network Research Symposium on campus, the events highlighted the growing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network.

UIndy students show research posters in the atrium of the Health Pavilion as part of the first annual Health Pavilion Scholarship Day hosted by the Health Science Colleges on Friday, May 19, 2017. The event was followed by the Second Annual Multidisciplinary Scholarly Activity Symposium held by Community Health Network with UIndy partnership support. Chad Priest, RN, JD, Chief Executive Officer of he American Red Cross of Indiana Region, is the speaker delivering a keynote on "The Healthcare Professionals of the Future" in Schwitzer following the luncheon. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

More than 20 faculty and students showcased their research experiences  at the Scholarship Day event held in the morning, which was hosted by all of the disciplines within the Health Pavilion. In the afternoon, keynote speakers Chad Priest and Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez of Community Health Network addressed issues surrounding the health care professions at the Community Health Network Research Symposium.

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University of Indianapolis Real Estate Development program sees early success

A new program that is the first of its kind in Indiana is already making its mark.

The University of Indianapolis launched a Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate Development in the fall of 2016, becoming the first university in the region and state to offer the program.

MPS in Real Estate Development program director, Eric Harvey

MPS in Real Estate Development program director, Eric Harvey

Program Director Eric A. Harvey, who was recently appointed to the position, said students who enroll are seeking to become entrepreneurs in real estate as they advance their careers. Courses include ethics and problem solving, finance, capital markets, real estate development law, development and construction systems, project management and sustainability, with a capstone course that allows the student to frame their professional goals. The program was recently highlighted by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

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Study finds living in a state with weak gun laws could increase risk of being shot by police

A new study from the University of Indianapolis published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that citizens living in states with the weakest gun laws are more than twice as likely to be fatally shot by law enforcement. 

Aaron Kivisto

Aaron Kivisto

Aaron Kivisto, assistant professor in the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, conducted the research along with doctoral student Peter Phalen, in collaboration with Brad Ray, assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. The American Journal of Public Health published the study, “Firearm legislation and fatal police shootings in the United States,” on May 18, 2017.

Kivisto, lead author of the study, said the research utilized data on fatal police shootings in the United States from “The Counted,” a database developed by U.K.-based newspaper The Guardian. That data, compared with the state gun law rankings from the The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, showed citizens from states with weaker gun laws are significantly more likely to be killed by law enforcement, according to the study.

Researchers examined more than 2,000 fatal police shootings that occurred between January 2015 and October 2016. The study considered differences across states in rates of gun ownership, violent crime and other socio-demographic characteristics.

The study found that, while laws strengthening background checks appeared to support this effect by reducing the overall number of guns in the community, laws aimed at promoting safe storage and reducing gun trafficking helped to prevent guns already in the community from falling into the wrong hands.

“What’s really striking is that the laws that seem to be driving this effect – closing background check loopholes, requiring that parents protect their kids from finding their guns in the home – are the types of laws that large majorities of Americans support. These aren’t particularly controversial laws, and this study, along with many before it, suggests that they can save a lot of lives,” Kivisto said. “These findings also seem to highlight the challenges created for law enforcement by states that have neglected to enact common-sense gun laws supported by most citizens.”

The research group emphasized the need for a comprehensive system to track fatal police shootings nationwide.

“Currently, the only serious monitoring system for police violence in our country is the media itself, rather than the government or police,” Phalen said.

While policy efforts targeting police practices represent one strategy, these findings show strengthening state-level gun laws as a potential tool for reducing rates of fatal police shootings in the United States, Kivisto said.

*Kivisto, A.J., Ray, B., & Phalen, P. (2017). Firearm legislation and fatal police shootings in the United States. American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303770

 

UIndy forensics crew returns to Texas for migrant identification initiative

For the past four years, a forensics team from the University of Indianapolis has traveled to Texas to exhume and conduct forensic analyses on the remains of migrants who died making the treacherous journey into the United States. forensicscrew

The group not only carefully digs and recovers the remains from unmarked gravesites, but it also works with Texas State University on identification of the bodies. The initiative highlights a humanitarian crisis as bodies continue to be found in small counties with no resources to identify them, said Krista Latham, an associate professor of biology who leads the group.

Latham traveled this month with four graduate students to Texas to analyze the dead and work to recover additional remains from unmarked gravesites. This is the sixth trip Latham has led to the area.

“Students are immersed in a humanitarian crisis where people are dying in mass disaster numbers due to the environment and exposure while crossing our southern border. It provides them with invaluable humanitarian and global citizenship experience. They learn about the complexities of border policies and the realities of thousands of people who are not as privileged as themselves in terms of the expectation of freedom from personal violence,” Latham said.

UIndy graduate student Leann Rizor

UIndy graduate student Leann Rizor

During the first week of the trip, the University team will work with Dr. Kate Spradley of Texas State University on the analysis of unidentified individuals exhumed from Sacred Heart Cemetery in Brooks County, Texas, during the 2013, 2014 and 2017 archeological field seasons. The following week, the forensic crew will then volunteer in Starr County, Texas, to locate and exhume the remains of undocumented migrants who died after crossing the border and were buried in pauper’s graves without identification.

Latham’s work has received local and national media coverage and most recently was the focus of an interactive New York Times report. The group will be documenting their activities in the Beyond Borders blog.

With the U.S. Border Patrol reporting more than 6,000 deaths during illegal border crossings between October 2000 and September 2016, Latham said her work serves a crucial need to identify those who perished on the journey.

“There is a need for forensic experts to identify these individuals and provide their families with information on their fate,” Latham explained. “The dead are mostly South Americans that are fleeing systematic violence that is unimaginable to most people living in the US. We are volunteering a very specialized skill set to counties that have been overwhelmed with deaths that are in mass disaster numbers.”

“In the process, we are also able to bring awareness to the crisis at the border and work to promote social responsibility and humanitarianism as a response to the migrant death crisis,” Latham added.

The project provides numerous opportunities for Latham’s students as they apply their classroom skills in a real-world setting, including scientific skills honed in the University’s human biology program such as skeletal analysis, photography and archeology. Even more importantly, Latham said, students develop an understanding of the complex social, cultural and political realities involved in the work.

Haley Rock, a graduate student in human biology and field expert, is one of the graduate students in the group. She appreciates the experiential learning aspect of the project that allows her to gain a better understanding of human osteology and forensic anthropology.

“This humanitarian work is important to me because it allows me to take part in reuniting family members with their lost loved ones, as well as bring to light the unjust treatment individuals may have faced in their lives,” she said.

“I hope to gain a broader cultural perspective and understanding of the migrant situation that is currently going on in South Texas. Being in the midst of the humanitarian crisis that is occurring in Texas will likely impact me in a way that I cannot even begin to predict,” graduate student Erica Cantor said.

Both Latham and her team acknowledge the challenges of the project, which include working in the South Texas heat, as well as processing their emotions as they work to ease families’ pain in the midst of an untold humanitarian crisis.

“These students are not only learning scientific skills they could never learn in a classroom, but they are being empowered by their actions to promote a sense of common humanity. They are applying their liberal arts and sciences training towards the social responsibility of humanitarianism as a crisis response,” Latham said.

Follow the team’s updates here.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

UIndy May trips send students around the globe

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El Camino de Santiago, Spain

From Spain to Costa Rica, University of Indianapolis students are traveling the globe this month on experiential learning trips guided by faculty. Students will be visiting destinations in Europe, including France, England, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, and Austria, along with visits to less traveled corners of the world, including Ecuador, Cuba, Costa Rica, Ghana, Haiti and the Galapagos Islands. Another group is traveling to Japan. 

The trips serve to expand the education of University students by opening them up to new cultures and international experiences, which can have a profound impact on their future lives.

A group of students, including 13 members of the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College, is embarking on a walking pilgrimage along El Camino de Santiago across northern Spain to the Tomb and Cathedral of St. James. The group is led by University Chaplain Jeremiah Gibbs, Jim Williams, associate professor of history and Honors College executive director, along with Frank Bates, assistant professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy and Kelly Miller, director of the Student Counseling Center.

The journey will take the group 21 days as they walk through 100 towns and villages in Spain, including Leon, Astorga, Ponferada, Compostela and Madrid. They will have the opportunity to interact with Spanish villagers and some of the 250,000 annual pilgrims from around the world.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our students, to take a Spring Term trip together with funding support from the Strain Honors College.  Some of them are setting out on this journey as a formation of their spirituality, like pilgrims have been doing since the Middle Ages; some are going for the deep culture, history and language exposure they’ll find in Northern Spain; others are looking forward to the adventure and the physical challenge,” said Williams.

UIndy students are following the footsteps of Christians who have been making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for 1,200 years.  “My hope and dream is that all of them will be profoundly transformed by the time we arrive in Santiago de Compostela, some 165 miles after we take that first step together,” Williams added.

Julie Kiefer, the University’s study abroad director, notes that Spring Term trips continue to grow in popularity as students take advantage of experiential learning in a foreign country. worldmap_springterm

“Any major can study abroad, and there are so many programs to choose from. The May trips allow students to get a taste of life overseas, and some of them go on to participate in semester or year-abroad programs,” Kiefer said.

Jennifer Camden, associate professor of English, will lead a group of 18 students through Edinburgh, Scotland’s historic sites, Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye and the Highlands, York and London.

Kyoko Amano, professor of English, will guide a group of students on a trip through Japan. That includes a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima Castle, the National Peace Memorial Hall and lectures.

Jodie Ferise, assistant professor of business administration, is taking students to Ghana for the sixth time since 2011. Past projects have included opening a kindergarten and junior high school, a computer lab and several libraries. This year’s project will fund the construction of a school in the village of Papaase, Ghana, thanks to a generous donor.

Becca Cartledge is continuing her tradition of leading nursing students on a trip to Haiti. Follow their progress here.

Other trips include:

  • Costa Rica, led by Julie Kiefer, the University’s study abroad director
  • Ecuador, led by Kathleen Hetzler and Shannon Moore, assistant professors of nursing
  • France and Spain, led by Peter Vakunta, assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies
  • England and Austria, led by Sharon Parr, associate professor of music
  • Germany, Czech Republic and Austria, led by Milind Thakar, associate professor of international relations, and Paul Levesque, assistant professor of German
  • Cuba, led by Terrence Harewood, associate professor of teacher education
  • Galapagos, led by Douglas Stemke, associate professor of biology, with Sandra Davis, associate professor of biology and Kevin Gribbins, assistant professor of biology

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.

UIndy students present award-winning vision for Circle Centre Mall

A group of University of Indianapolis students earned a regional award for its innovative redevelopment plan for the circle Centre Mall.

The group represents the first cohort of the University’s new Master’s in Professional Studies in Real Estate Development Program. Their presentation, which outlined a plan for the future use of the downtown mall, won first place in the 6th Annual NAIOP/ULI University Challenge Award.

Left to right: Scott Nally, Logan Brougher, Ken Martin, Justin Williams, Anne McKinley

Left to right: Scott Nally, Logan Brougher, Ken Martin, Justin Williams, Anne McKinley

The students competed against teams from Butler, IUPUI, ISU and Ball State. UIndy’s redevelopment concept won out over IUPUI in a head-to-head final round to take home $5,000 in scholarship money from the OPUS Foundation, one of the competition’s sponsors, along with Holladay Properties.

The group noted the challenges of traditional “bricks and mortar” retail competing against the rise of online shopping. They proposed a revitalization plan for the mall, which serves as an anchor for downtown Indianapolis, including targeting the space to a high-end tech company, an urban Target store as well as other updates.
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UIndy professor’s artwork welcomes race fans to Indianapolis

As downtown Indianapolis welcomes thousands of race fans leading up to the Indianapolis 500, the talent of Katherine Fries, art faculty at the University of Indianapolis, will be showcased on the Indianapolis ArtsGarden.

"Welcome Race Fans" by Katherine Fries, University of Indianapolis assistant professor of art and design

“Welcome Race Fans” by Katherine Fries

Fries, assistant professor of art and design at the University, is one of five local artists commissioned to create signs welcoming fans to Indianapolis at locations across the city. The project connects Indianapolis’ thriving arts culture with the historic Indianapolis 500 and celebrates the history, culture and excitement of the month of May.
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