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Social Sciences

Winter 2016

When Jermiha marched home

Military homecoming is usually a time of immense joy and relief, but for many veterans the weeks that follow are daunting. Each month in Washington state alone, 1,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life—moving from a structured, often traumatic environment into the looser routines of home. Along the way come unexpected challenges, especially when returning to college or entering the job market.

Jermiha White ’16 served eight and a half years as an Army cavalry scout on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. As a combat veteran, White began experiencing anxiety when he enrolled as a student at Washington State University … » More …

Fall 2016

What’s new?

Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center

Former WSU President Elson S. Floyd pulled together a group of campus leaders in late 2014 to sketch out a vision of a new kind of building on campus: a place for cultural education and events. Although Floyd died in 2015, the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, under construction on the corner of Stadium and Main, will be a signature welcome to WSU with a “rolling hills” roof and open design.

Maria de Jesus Dixon, manager of operations for the Cultural Center, believes the center is unique among the nation’s universities and colleges. WSU’s multicultural student population has grown … » More …

Iphone image
Fall 2016

Get out the tweet

Social media’s effect on political participation and civility

In the nonstop flow of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, it’s hard to avoid comments and news about politics, especially in a presidential election year. Many worry the geyser of political rhetoric and uncivil comments might discourage some from participating.

That’s not always the case, says Porismita Borah, an assistant professor in the Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University since 2012. As a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin and at WSU, she researches emerging technology and how it affects politics. She coauthored a study in 2008 that found young people became … » More …

Just Mercy
Spring 2016

Just Mercy

Dozens of witnesses, including a police officer, saw Walter McMillian at a church fish fry when a young woman was killed in nearby Monroeville, Alabama in 1986.

Police later arrested the self-employed African-American tree trimmer anyway. A nearly all-white jury convicted him and a judge sent him to death row. That’s where Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated lawyer, met McMillian.

Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, battled a hostile criminal justice system to uncover improperly concealed evidence that led to McMillian’s exoneration in 1993.

But the frightening way McMillian was so quickly condemned raises broader questions about America’s criminal justice system, which incarcerates more … » More …

Living Buddhism cover
Spring 2016

Living Buddhism—Mind, Self, and Emotion in a Thai Community

Living Buddhism cover

Julia Cassaniti

Cornell University Press: 2015

A scholarly work woven with human drama, the book treats readers to an engaging account of Buddhism as it occurs in the everyday lives of two extended families in rural Northern Thailand.

WSU assistant professor of cultural anthropology Julia Cassaniti spent 10 years observing life in the small mountainous community of Mae Jaeng. She formed close relationships with the villagers while helping in their shops, taking part … » More …

Nancy Rodriguez, Courtesy National Institute of Justice
Spring 2016

Beyond Just Training: A conversation with NIJ Director Nancy Rodriguez

Police training is just one piece of the complex scientific puzzle to measure law enforcement effectiveness, says Nancy Rodriguez PhD ’98, the director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The NIJ is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Rodriguez was appointed in October 2014 by President Barack Obama.

“This goes beyond just training,” she says. “In the past there was a focus on behavioral research, or on technology. We need to understand the connections between different areas.”

Rodriguez’s deep expertise—from her doctoral research at WSU with Professor Nicholas Lovrich and later her professional career at Arizona State University—gives her … » More …

Sue Rahr '79. Photo Matt Hagen
Spring 2016

New ways of training police: Sue Rahr ’79

Former King County sheriff and policing expert Sue Rahr ’79 talks about new ways of police training. Rahr was selected by President Barack Obama for the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. She is also director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), which has moved toward more intervention and de-escalation techniques for police officers.

Read about Rahr’s work:

Creating guardians, calming warriors—A new style of training for police recruits emphasizes techniques to better de-escalate conflict situations (Washington Post, December 10, 2015)

Can Sue Rahr reinvent policing? (Crosscut, April 28, 2015)

Coming soon: A discussion with Sue Rahr … » More …

Police training in a new light
Spring 2016

Police training in a new light

The call came into 9-1-1 from a Spokane YMCA last October: A middle-aged man was threatening to break the kneecaps of an eight-year-old, because he said the boy could “ruin my NBA career.”

Corporal Jordan Ferguson of the Spokane Police Department responded, fully aware of the suspect’s antagonistic and unpredictable behavior. Ferguson’s body camera footage shows what happened next.

In the lobby of the YMCA, an employee first describes the man’s erratic statements. Ferguson tracks the man to the gym, who then walks away yelling. Rather than restraining the man immediately, Ferguson asks him questions and listens carefully and calmly, taking his time as the … » More …

Ancient grains freekeh, amaranth, barley, quinoa, bulgur, millet, and farro. Courtesy Pioneer Press
Winter 2015

Ancients among us

Safeguarding our future

The arid soil on the mile-high Hopi Mesa trickles through clenched fingers like sand. If you visit this isolated corner of northeastern Arizona, you might find it hard to believe it is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas.

For more than 2,000 years, the Hopi and their ancestors have carved a living out of the rough terrain. They survived drought, famine, war, and a fluctuating climate that drove many of their ancient southwestern neighbors elsewhere in search of more fertile lands.

One key to the Hopi’s longevity is a variety of drought-tolerant corn they have adapted over the … » More …