2011-2012 Projects

2011-2012 Projects

The Art History of Air and Water in Mexico

Professor of Art History Stacie G. Widdifield (CFA), worked with Geography and Development Professor Jeffery Banister (SBS) to examine the role that Chapultepec Park – a historically significant site in the middle of Mexico City – has played in the relationship between humans and water in the midst of a dynamic urban milieu. The role of visual images, i.e., land- and aqua-scapes, in the development of public sensitivities to resources was a key part of the investigation. The park is also an elegant reflection of the larger struggle — in Mexico and across the planet —to protect the global commons in the face of rapid environmental change and to create a sense of connection between people and the places that sustain them. The project included an on-line exhibition of the works studied in the project and those created in a new graduate seminar, “Waterworks,” as well as a week-long “think tank." The team includes faculty, staff and graduate students as well as a scholar affiliated with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. This work led to an American Council of Learned Societies Collaborative Research Fellowship and published articles, including: Seeing Water in Early Twentieth-century Mexico City: Henry Wellge's Perspective Plan of the City and Valley of Mexico, D.F., 1906 in Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Esteticas (2015) and The Debut of 'Modern Water' in Early 20th century Mexico City: The Xochimilco Potable Waterworks in the Journal of Historical Geography (2014). In June 2016, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History published The History and Visual Culture of Mexico City’s Xochimilco Potable Water System during the Porfiriato.

Rough and Tumble: Taking Play Seriously

Film & Television Professor Yuri Makino (CFA) collaborated with UA primatologists Dr. Dieter Steklis and Netzin Steklis to produce "Rough & Tumble: Taking Play Seriously," a 25-minute documentary that explores the beneficial role of human play through the play of wild gorillas, dogs and dolphins. The film draws a connection between the study of play in non-human animals and the crucial role play functions in human development. Human play is usually thought of as a childhood pastime, but play imparts critical skills or experiences that are life-enhancing. While play may seem trivial in our lives, it may define who we are and how we came to be. Experts featured in the film include the UA primatologist team Dr. Dieter and Netzin Steklis; Educational Psychologist Dr. Anthony Pellegrini of University of Minnesota; Evolutionary Biologist Dr. Marc Bekoff of Boulder, Colorado; Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp of Washington University and Seattle-based nature writer Brenda Peterson.

Effectively Employing 3-Dimensional Effects to Enhance Student Engagement in Online Learning

Dr. Heshan Sun, assistant professor in the School of Information Resources and the College of Science, and Dr. Mary A. Peterson, professor of psychology, tackled the question, “How can 3D effects be used effectively to enhance student engagement in the primary learning tasks?” They combined their expertise in visual science and human‐computer interaction to create a study employing more than 100 UA students. The results of the study contribute to revolutionizing the growing field of 3-D web-based learning.

The Christian Right in Contemporary American Culture and Politics

Dr. Karen K. Seat (COH), associate professor of Religious Studies, was awarded the Provost’s Grand Challenges Faculty Grant for this project which took her to such places as the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference, a Southern Baptist convention, Pat Robertson’s Regent University, Liberty University School of Law, Phoenix Seminary and the Smart Girl Politics conference. She interviewed dozens of leading social conservative and Tea Party activists, lobbyists, professors and talk show hosts. A central piece of her research is an examination of gender in conservative Christian movements and her most prized interview was with 86-year-old anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly. Karen’s expertise on evangelicals in America made her an in-demand speaker during the Republican primaries. She has presented the following papers at scholarly conferences: “The Christian Worldview as a Master Narrative: Negotiating Gender and Politics in Evangelical Subculture(s),” “The Politics of Southern Baptist Complementarianism” and “Evangelicals and Women’s Leadership in the Post-Palin Era.” She also has been approached by two scholarly presses about writing a book.

Multilingual, 2.0?

Confluencenter was a principal sponsor of this international symposium on multilingualism held at the UA in April 2012. Coming from disciplines as diverse as computational linguistics, anthropology, second language acquisition, comparative literature and translation studies, a body of prominent scholars from around the world met for a public discussion about what it means to live in more than one language in the 21st century, including all of the emotions, politics, identities, practices, pleasures and dangers that doing so can involve. More than 200 people attended this three-day event, as well as 250 individual online viewers from around the world. Information on the symposium is at Multilingual.arizona.edu. Issues of the peer-reviewed journal, "Critical Multilingualism Studies," emerged as a result of this conference. This publication traces "state of the art" multilingualism research across disciplines that often lack a common venue for dialogue on this burgeoning topic. The Confluencenter grantees for this project were two assistant professors in German Studies (COH), David Gramling and Chantelle Warner, as well as an assistant professor in Turkish Studies, Aslı Iğsız.

Food Security and Equality Across Borders

In the desert borderlands of the U.S. and Mexico, water scarcity is one of many driving factors threatening food security, particularly for people in Arizona and Sonora. The food production and distribution systems in these two states are already vulnerable. But climate change may further de-stabilize them, making food insecurity and inequity even more common. This project examines the vulnerabilities in our shared food and water resources and finds a means of creatively communicating these problems and their potential solutions to farmers, ranchers, cooks, chefs, policy makers and activists on both sides of the border. This project bolsters the efforts of Sabores Sin Fronteras, an interdisciplinary team at the Southwest Center, bringing together political geographers, water policy analysts, applied anthropologists and agroecologists; and it builds on the Center’s long collaboration with researchers of the Centro de Investigaciones en Alimentación y Desarrollo, based in Hermosillo, Sonora. Among the scientists engaged are: Jeffrey BanisterMaribel AlvarezGary Paul NabhanMargaret WilderErnesto Camou HealyKraig Kraft and UA graduate student Laurel Bellante.