Learn by Doing Fund

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Social Sciences Learn by Doing Fund

By Dr. Benjamin Timms

This year, the department was pleased to initiate the Social Sciences Learn by Doing Fund Program, which is aimed at supporting student projects that adopt Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.

The impetus for the fund came from an anonymous alum who has pledged $500 annually for this purpose. Noting the importance of this initiative, the Social Sciences Department is matching this pledge with an additional $500 for a total of $1,000 each year.

The fund provides grants to students to cover research costs, presentations at conferences, internship and/or study abroad expenses, or other applied academic endeavors that contribute to student development, success and advancement. If you would like to contribute to the fund to support more student projects, please contact the Social Sciences Department.

Each year the department will solicit proposals from students, evaluate them and make awards. For the inaugural year of the program, five student projects were selected for funding. The following accounts are from the students themselves:

Michael Tarantino and Zach Unger ($250) “GIS Analysis of Bark Beetle Effects on Yosemite’s Forests”

“We received the 2017 Cal Poly Learn By Doing fund to help assist in research expenses for our senior project. For our project, we performed a three-year GIS analysis of bark beetle infestation in eastern Stanislaus National Forest and western Yosemite National Park. Besides GIS analysis, we also needed field data and research to assist our GIS analysis. We were able to find five healthy forest locations and five infested forest locations within our study area, and we recorded the UTM zone coordinates for all ten ground referencing points. We later would add these locations to our final map to see if our GIS analysis accurately reflects what’s really on the ground.”

Cal Poly at WSSAKayla Granados and Victoria Otero ($250) “Paper Presentation at the Western Social Sciences Conference in San Francisco, April 12-15, 2017”

“This past summer, we worked with Dr. Unique Shaw-Smith on a research project in the San Luis Obispo County Jail studying incarceration from the perspective of incarcerated men and women. We surveyed and interviewed 28 incarcerated men and women about their backgrounds, their thoughts on incarceration, and their relationships with their families. Since the summer, Dr. Shaw-Smith has been analyzing and writing about the quantitative and qualitative data, and we have assisted her in background research about San Luis Obispo demographics and other jail interview projects. We now have an opportunity to present our research and findings at the Western Social Sciences Conference, as well as spend a couple days listening to other projects and thoughts related to social sciences.”

Social Sciences Learn by Doing Fund

Emma Wright, Jack Webb, Marley Ochoifeoma and Stephen Page ($250) “Poster Presentation at the Society for California Archaeology (SCA) Annual Meeting in Yosemite, March 10-12, 2017”

“We were fortunate enough to be allowed to give a poster presentation at the 2017 Society of California Archaeology meeting located in the Yosemite Valley. Our poster focused on artifacts recovered on the Pecho Coast, CA-SLO-51/H, at a site very close to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. Although we touched upon the methods of field recovery and laboratory work, our poster concentrated specifically on artifacts that related to the Millingstone component of California pre-history. We discovered that there was indeed a strong spatial distribution of Millingstone artifacts, which has an extremely interesting temporal implication on CA-SLO-51/H’s chronology. Overall, this was a wonderful opportunity that allowed us to not only display the information that we have worked so hard on for the past two quarters, but be able to network with the California archaeology community as a whole. This trip gave us hands on experience and exemplified Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing motto.”

Christopher Basurto ($150) “Spaces and Identities: Mental Maps of Cal Poly”

“The grant allowed me to conduct sit-down interviews in order to depict their mental maps. All in all, the participants identified the University Union as a place they dislike, the Recreation Center as a hyper-masculine place, and the Library or their home departments as a place to escape from the oppressive climate on campus. Half of the participants saw queer spaces as a plastic and temporal, as a burst of moments, while the other half of the participants saw no queer spaces on campus. The mental maps seem to show an overall emotion to the campus, where the more detailed a mental map was, such as with group 4, the less attachment there was with the campus and as less detailed a mental map would become, such as with group 1, the more there was an attachment to a particular space on campus. Ultimately, this undergraduate senior project provides a novel way to look at the literature of performativity and spatial analysis research.”

Torrey Brugger ($100) “Successes and Pitfalls of the Kalu Yala community, Panama”

“For my senior project, I have conducted a research project on the successes and pitfalls of Kalu Yala. Kalu Yala is a town in the Panamanian jungle where the founder Jimmy Stice has hired young professionals and selected student interns to help him build a sustainable town. The purpose of my project is to investigate whether this development of an environmentally sustainable city is also socially sustainable. The project will uncover whether the community is successful with special attention paid to factors such as how conflict is resolved, power is negotiated and what types of leadership are in place. Although a sustainable city in the Panamanian jungle may seem like a decent blueprint for future towns, is it a realistic model or simply an ideal? To address this question, I travelled to Kalu Yala for five days and interviewed the town's residents, staff and student interns about issues of governance, power and conflict within the community.”


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