Building an Urban Wilderness

The fact that wilderness can be literally built is a profound one, especially in this era of ecological crisis. Wild plants and animal species are rapidly being lost due to climate change and loss of habitat. What if wildlife were built into the fabric of the city? What if the city, often regarded as the antithesis of wilderness, nurtured a variety of plant and animal life in the midst of dense urban centers? Ben will produce designs for the construction of wildlife habitat at a sample urban site, incorporating Geographic Information Systems and a variety of new environmental analysis tools and media into the design process. Ben will regularly present his project to solicit criticism from faculty and guest jurors, making numerous models and illustrations to accompany his written thesis.

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Social Science

Glocal' Biomedicine: Reformulating Expertise and Epistemology in a Yemen Hospital

In the last 20 years, Yemen experienced a civil war, discontinued aid from the gulf countries, and reforms that cut spending towards health care. Ashwak’s project explores how Yemeni doctors and lay persons view foreign western medicine in comparison to Yemen’s western medicine and how they use communicative practices (Hanks 1996) to explicitly and implicitly co-construct and reproduce these views. This will give insight and space to investigate how medical discourse in Yemen influences consumption and choice of medical practices when faced with the option of local and foreign operated medical institutes. For this project, Ashwak will conduct ethnographic work supplemented by conversational analysis of semi-structured interviews with patients, the accompanying parties, the physicians, the nurses, and the nearby locals at both the Yemen-German and al-Thawrah Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen.

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Social Science

Re-telling Retail: The Intersection of High-Tech Products and Low-Wage Service Work

Past research on the service sector indicates that workers often suffer from negative psychological consequences when forced by their managers to be friendly. Workers, workers’ rights advocates, businesspeople, and scholars alike have therefore searched for ways to set up the work environment such that workers will be friendly even without management coercion. Taking this search effort into an under-researched sector, Annie will join electronics retail teams this summer to examine how companies’ encouragement of relationship-building between employees and customers affects employees’ likelihood of providing “voluntary” friendliness. Annie will sell electronic gadgets and give tutorials of computers while conducting ethnographic research and in-depth interviews.

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Social Science

Hidden but Not Forgotten: The Potential of Raising the Life-Chances of Environmental Refugee Women through Grassroots Non-Governmental Organizations

Lying hidden between the better discussed consequences of environmental degradation and destruction of the 21st century is an equal pressing issue that is receiving little attention: environmental refugee women. Grassroots Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have recently begun making concerted efforts to address issues of environmental refugee women, yet little research has been done to assess their effectiveness. Nathen’s research will address this gap in knowledge by engaging with NGOs in China, India, and Nicaragua. Nathen will spend time in the field observing the NGO and their projects and also conducting in-depth interviews with NGO personnel and NGO project participants. He hopes that the findings of this research provide policy makers, donors, and environmental NGOs and their participants with the knowledge necessary to address these issues more effectively.

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Social Science

Fostering Pro-social Behavior: Emotional, Non-verbal, Vocal Cues and the Vagus Nerve

While navigating the world, we must discover if either we need to prioritize ourselves first, as others will, so that we may succeed, or if people will be there for us so that we may likewise be able to support others. Gregg’s project will explore this decisive process by focusing on whether pro-social vocal bursts, like a compassionate ‘aww,’ will lead individuals to behave more pro-socially in socio-economic games. The study asks if emotional, non-word cues observed in the general social environment will cause similar cooperative (or competitive) behaviors and a physiological change accompanying this disposition. The impact of something smaller than a word on socio-economic behavior could illuminate the significance and spectrum of conveyed emotions, contributing to and bridging the growing literature on pro-social emotions, physiology, and behavior.

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Social Science