Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Voices of Future Generations: Girls from Halifax

Racism. Stereotypes. Job security. These have been contemporary issues in Britain surrounding the influx of refugees and the Brexit vote. They are contemporary issues, but not new issues. In this week's Voices track, girls from Halifax, England talk candidly about these issues in their own community.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

360 Degree Feedback

Understanding oneself and making productive personal changes are difficult but rewarding tasks. Future Generations Assistant Professor Dr. Jesse Pappas, along with a team of colleagues, created the Personality Pad to facilitate these tasks. 

"The Personality Pad's goal is to assist with self-insight and self-development," says Pappas. "The tech platform it uses will drive a peer-reviewed process among faculty and will eventually be used among students." The National Science Foundation has been funding Dr. Pappas' work on the Personality Pad since 2011. In that time, thousands of individuals worldwide have used it to gain self-insight and set self-development goals. 

Personality Pad uses a system of 360 degree feedback. "Essentially, 360 degree feedback provides insight about how individuals perceive themselves compared to how they are perceived by the people around them," reads the project's website, www.personalitypad.org.

Dr. Pappas and his team's goal is to adapt this well-established professional tool for personal use. Findings suggest that a majority of individuals have a greater understanding of their personality after implementing 360 degree feedback. In many cases, this leads to actionable plans to implement personal development. Pappas is also working to adapt the technology to the specific needs of Future Generations Graduate School. "One unique but challenging aspect of the Future Generations cohort module is an extremely diverse group of students, in terms of culture, previous academic training, and learning styles. The Personality Pad could go a long way in improving the teaching effectiveness of our faculty."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Advocating for Rural Communities

From early in her career, Shannon Elizabeth Bell (Class of 2005) knew that her research must benefit the people she was studying. Bell recently published Fighting King Coal: The Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia (MIT Press, 2016). Along with her previous book, the award-winning Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2013), Fighting King Coal brings to light the myriad environmental injustices taking place in the coalfields of Appalachia.

Bell is currently an associate professor at the University of Kentucky. Her books and career build from her Future Generations practicum. Titled West Virginia Photovoice, her practicum bridged activism and the academy through in-depth interviews, participant observation, geospatial viewshed analysis, and document analysis.

One important insight from her graduate work with Future Generations was building from successes. She led fifty-four women in five coal mining communities through an eight month process of "telling the story" of their communities. These stories included the strengths, beauty, and challenges, as well as the participants' ideas for change. Many ideas became realities thanks to the visibility that Photovoice provided. Roads were repaired, municipal waterlines were built, and a community park and pool were reopened. The project increased participants' sense of efficacy and empowerment.

To learn more about Shannon Bell's West Virginia Photovoice project, visit www.wvphotovoice.org.