Category: SCOPE

Georgia State Scholar Presents Research on Access to Healthy Food

By Ashley Cunigan CCBP Student Program Assistant

University of Alabama students, faculty, staff and community partners attended a morning networking session and an afternoon workshop about working with vulnerable communities on Friday, Oct. 18, presented by Dr. Kellie Mayfield, assistant professor in nutrition at Georgia State University. The sessions were sponsored by the student organization SCOPE (Scholars for Community Outreach Partnership and Engagement), a program within the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

Mayfield specializes in community-based mixed methods research, focusing on availability of healthy foods. Mayfield, whose Ph.D. is from Michigan State University, collected data on the differences in food availability and its effects on consumers. She partnered with a Flint, Mich. nonprofit that supports residents in growing and accessing healthy food.

Mayfield worked directly with a community group that addresses problems in the Flint food system by increasing information about consumption of healthy food. Her research examined quality and price of available items in local grocery stores.

Of 288 stores in Flint that sell food, 273 were included in Mayfield’s analysis of food access and control in smaller and larger stores. Areas within a three-mile radius were analyzed to present information on how many grocery stores were located in areas without public transportation.

In addition to scarce food resources, Flint residents also struggled with finding clean water. The Flint water crisis of 2014 caused Michigan to declare a state of emergency. Lead and other dangerous metals contaminated the water supply, and tap water in many homes was toxic.

In her study, Mayfield found that residents had little access to healthy food or clean water, leading her to propose a change framework based on women as nutritional gatekeepers in the food environment.

Mayfield’s experience working with African-American communities led to her investigations of “womanism” — as opposed to “feminism,” a term that suggests “white” women. In researching custodial African-American grandmothers, Mayfield found that women play an important role in providing for their families. As custodial grandparents increase and access to healthy food declines, she said, there is much less to share.

Audience members were given time to network with peers to discuss insights into Mayfield’s findings. Students thought of different ways they could apply her strategies to their own research. Mayfield reiterated the importance of critical thinking and reflection, especially when working with vulnerable communities.

One of the faculty members who felt especially motivated by the Mayfield presentation was Dr. Chapman Greer, who teaches business communications in the Culverhouse College of Commerce. “Dr. Mayfield’s presentation was very informative,” she said. “I learned a lot about how we can apply mixed methods to our research.” Greer and her students are researching the possibility of establishing a community hospital in Marion, Ala.

 

SCOPE Showcase Highlights Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Scholars for Community, Outreach, Partnership and Engagement, or SCOPE, held its annual Showcase of Community-Engaged Scholarship on April 18 in the Bryant Conference Center. The event highlights the activities of undergraduate and graduate members, along with their work in the area of engaged scholarship.

“The Showcase provides a well-supported way for members to showcase their research and to get feedback from faculty,” said SCOPE President Tera “CeeCee” Johnson, a master’s student in the clinical mental health program who has been a SCOPE member for five years. “The Showcase gives other students an opportunity to see their work and possibly collaborate on future projects.”

Throughout the year, students meet and learn about engagement scholarship initiatives that are already being undertaken by the University and ways to get involved as well as to participate in skills-based workshops on research methods, grant writing, completing Institutional Review Board applications, and more.

“As an undergraduate being able to see all of this research and see all of these projects has been really inspiring for someone like me who wants to go to graduate school,” said Lathram Berry, a junior from Nashville with a New College emphasis in community development and civic engagement. “Being a member of SCOPE has helped me start developing ideas about projects that I might want to work on in the future. It has benefited me professionally, but it also has taught me more about myself and my personal skills. So, it’s definitely more than an organization.”

This feeling seemed to permeate the group. “It’s amazing how many resources this university has for students,” said Kathryn Taylor, a sophomore from Niantic, Conn. majoring in communication studies. “SCOPE is a little bit more than just an organization to me; it’s showed me how easy it is to be able to change the world and to change your community. It pushes me professionally to become a better version of myself.”

Johnson, Taylor and Berry participated in a panel discussion along with Cory Key, a master’s student in the Rural Community Health Program, and Xiangyan “Sophia” Xiong, a master’s student in gender and race studies. During the discussion, the students elaborated on how SCOPE allowed them to create a network of support for their research areas.

“SCOPE has brought me real experience,” said Xiong, who is from China. “Sometime when you read too many books you think doing research is how to develop a theory; but here you can see the community needs and what you can do in practice to help people.”

Key is from Alabama’s Black Belt Region and wants to return to the area to practice medicine. When he connected with SCOPE he already was involved with two engagement programs at the University: Cooperative Agriculture for Minorities; and Agriculture, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“Every single workshop had something that I could take back and apply immediately,” said Key, who admitted he was hesitant to join the organization at first. “I wasn’t expecting SCOPE to connect me to with so many resources, especially in rural areas. Alabama and more specifically each presenter brought a wealth of knowledge and informed us about resources available and that solidified my decision to continue to work in rural health.

After the panel discussion, graduate students Daniela Susnara and Cecilia Ciaccia gave paper and digital presentations. This was followed by a poster session, which featured more than two dozen projects involving nearly 50 students.

SCOPE Displays and Discusses Original Engagement Scholarship at Awards Luncheon

  • April 27th, 2017
  • in SCOPE

By Taylor Armor
CCBP Graduate Assistant

University of Alabama graduate and undergraduate students shared their community-engaged scholarship efforts at the Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement (SCOPE) Showcase, Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center.

 The SCOPE presentations were the opening act for the 11th Annual Council on Community-Based Partnerships Excellence in Community Engagement Awards Luncheon. Moderated by Tera Johnson, SCOPE’s vice president, the showcase began with a student panel in which Charles Shipman II, Kathryn Taylor and Douglas Craddock Jr. spoke enthusiastically about their varied experiences with community-engagement scholarship. Panelists fielded questions from distinguished guests such as the Vice President for Community Affairs Dr. Samory Pruitt, Executive Director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) Dr. James E. McLean and Director of Crossroads Community Center Lane McLelland.

Each panelist agreed that building and sustaining relationships with community members was the most effective pathway to success in engaged scholarship. Craddock, a doctoral candidate in higher education, said that ensuring the sustainability of programs helps to improve trust between researchers and community partners.

Craddock, a Birmingham native, said,

“We ask ourselves ‘what’s next? Where do we go from here? By addressing those questions in the research and outreach, we let [the community] know that we are here for them, not for our own agenda but for their betterment.”

Craddock’s perspective stems from his involvement with sustained projects like CCBP’s Swim to the Top, a four-week enrichment program now in its third year that not only teaches at-risk students how to swim but also incorporates reading and math skills, physical fitness and nutrition information.

“Moving our third student Showcase to the same day as the Community Engagement Awards program proved to be beneficial to both Showcase and awards program participants,” said McLean, SCOPE adviser. “The venue was far more elegant for the Showcase and drew a larger audience to hear the student presentations and see their posters than would otherwise have been the case. This arrangement also enabled larger numbers of SCOPE students to attend the luncheon and more interaction among all groups.” 

Panelists shared specific stories that have shaped their experiences as members of SCOPE and/or as student employees at CCBP. Taylor, who works as a language partner with the center’s Global Café program, told a story about her Global Cafe experience. After sharing her vocabulary and spelling study method with the son of her Chinese language partner, the seven-year-old came boy brought back his perfect score to show to Taylor. Taylor, from Niantic, Connecticut, said such experiences help to make her efforts worthwhile.

Whether students have limited traditional research experience like Taylor or an extensive background like Craddock, SCOPE provides  a welcoming environment for all UA student and other young scholars with an interest in community engagement research. Shipman, a third-year computer science major, has been a member of SCOPE since the fall semester and has witnessed much student growth in their interest in and understanding of research

“At SCOPE meetings, we learn about opportunities, projects and programs that students can get involved with, and I think that it helps ease their minds,” said Shipman, a Montgomery, Ala. native. Often students get overwhelmed with coming up with their own ideas but in settings where ideas are shared, as is the case with SCOPE, this becomes less of a problem, he said.

SCOPE was the birthplace of many research ideas for scholars like Craddock, who gave his first project presentation at a SCOPE symposium. The travel award recipient said that purposefully involving students in community-engaged scholarship, whether as part of a class or part of an organization, could change their perception of this rapidly growing area of research.

“By showing them the work, you show why it’s needed,” he said. “You tell them that they’re not doing this just on behalf of the University, or just for a grade. You show them that they’re doing this for the betterment of other people,” thereby adding a compassion component to their research.