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Online Exclusive: IUP students present community development project at Undergraduate Scholars Forum

04/13/2014
Molly VanWoert
Lead News Writer

After traveling to Brazil with a study abroad program during winter break, three students formed a project focusing on community development and presented it at Tuesday’s Undergraduate Scholars Forum.

Gabrielle Bradshaw (junior, English/pre-law), Jerry Singleton (junior, sociology) and Jenna Schmitt (junior, psychology) presented their project titled “Sustainable Development,” which focused on communities and the role sustainable development plays in combating poverty.

Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” according to iisd.org.

The group spent their first week of their trip in the city of Diamantina, Bradshaw said.

“During that week, we visited multiple NGO’s (nongovernmental organizations) around the city and learned how the community supports itself through these organizations,” she said in an email interview. “Basically, our trip was centered on the concept of sustainable development. We visited a nursing home, an all-boys trade school and a community garden.”

The last two weeks were spent in Capivari, a small impoverished Quilombo – direct descendants of Brazilian slaves – community, Bradshaw said.

Ecotourism, which Singleton said is responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improve the well-being of local people, is a huge draw to the village of Capivari, he said.

“This is why the community chose to learn English from our team,” Bradshaw said. “For two weeks our team (Team Amizade Brazil) broke up into two groups to teach English classes: one for the children and one for the adults.”

This group wasn’t the only to present at the Undergraduate Scholars Forum, which showcased the work of more than 120 students Tuesday.

Students from any undergraduate program could apply as long as they had a faculty adviser to attest to the quality of their work, according to the Undergraduate Scholars Forum page on the IUP website.

As in the past, this year’s forum consisted of poster and oral presentations.

Poster presentations were displayed in the Ohio Room of the Hadley Union Building. Presenters stayed with their work from 12:30-1:45 p.m. for discussion and to answer any questions that attendees had about their research.

Oral presentations were placed into sessions that included up to four presentations on similar topics. Presentations were 15 minutes long, with an additional five minutes available for questions and answers.

The Community Development session included the Sustainable Development presentation and two others that focused on the potential impact that a strong sense of community can have.

Shawn Rooney (junior, geography) did his oral presentation titled “The Philanthropic Effect” on how small market NFL teams contribute to their fan base and overall team success by giving back to their communities.

“My project focuses on small market NFL teams and looks into the successes, failures, and uprising of small market franchises,” Rooney said.

Cities with a population exceeding one million are considered large-market teams and cities whose population is below one million are considered small-market, he said.

The current population of Philadelphia is 1.5 million people, making the Eagles a large-market team. The Eagles have an “average stadium-filled percentage” of 80 percent over the last 40 years, he said.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are considered a small-market team. Although Pittsburgh has a population of only 306,000, they have also achieved an “average stadium-filled percentage” of about 80 percent over the past 40 years, Rooney said.

This is mainly due to community involvement by the ownership, he said.

“I was inspired to do this type of research by the life of Arthur J. Rooney (founder of the Steelers),” Rooney said in an email interview. “What the core of my research wants to prove is to find a direct link that philanthropy within host city provides a blueprint to assist in the emergence of a small-market franchise.”

Lisa McCann (senior, anthropology) presented on how to apply anthropology to create a public blog.

“The blog, which culminated from an anthropology class assignment, clearly demonstrates extensive community involvement as well as the volunteer opportunities, educational opportunities and inclusiveness of the community garden,” McCann said in an email interview.

The assignment required students to work with a local community organization to create an original, digital project, she said.

McCann was a member of the crew who presented this project at the Appalachian Teaching Conference last December.

“The Appalachian Teaching Project offers students the opportunity to conduct active community-based research on their campuses,” according to a Dec. 21 article by the Indiana Gazette.

“When it was nearly finished, I showed it to the coordinators of the community garden,” she said. “They liked it so much they asked if it could become the official blog of the community garden.”

McCann’s blog for the Indiana Community Garden can be found at http://www.indianacg.blogspot.com/. 

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