Skip navigation

New Interdisciplinary Projects Planned for Community-Engaged Research Initiative

Wed, 06/29/2022 - 14:23pm | By: Van Arnold

The Center for Community Engagement and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) have announced two interdisciplinary research and creative activity projects which will feature in the inaugural 2022-24 Interdisciplinary Investigations Research Series.  

The aim of the Interdisciplinary Investigation Research Series is to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration to address community-identified needs, enhance community capacity to solve pressing challenges, and to prepare the next generation of engaged scholars. The initiative is underwritten by the Southern Miss Fund for Academic Excellence.

“Since 2015, Interdisciplinary Investigations has brought together faculty from across colleges and campuses to explore fascinating topics from multiple disciplinary perspectives,” said Ann Marie Kinnell, director of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development “We are excited to connect this work to the university’s long-standing commitment to community-based teaching and research. We thank Provost (Steve) Moser and the Southern Miss Fund for Academic Excellence for their continued support.”

Research projects that are selected to be part of the series must involve faculty and community members working collaboratively to produce research or creative work that addresses community challenges or effects social change.

Dr. Laura Gulledge from the School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security and Dr. Nora Charles from the School of Psychology

Dr. Nora Charles from the School of Psychology (left) and Dr. Laura Gulledge from the School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

The first project, Research in Juvenile Justice, will be facilitated by Dr. Laura Gulledge from the School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security and Dr. Nora Charles from the School of Psychology, partnering with the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center. Gulledge and Charles will teach an IDS 350 course, cross listed with CJ 480 and PSY 492, to introduce students to the topic of juvenile delinquency, research methods in the juvenile justice system, and various professionals who work in the field.

In the second year of the project, Gulledge, Charles, and selected students will research the effectiveness of a youth mentorship program at the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). Research findings, which will be presented to JDC, will measure improved behavior at the JDC, increased youth well-being, and decreased future criminality.

“I am looking forward to applying a community-oriented lens to the study of juvenile delinquency and hope that students will find this eye-opening and enriching,” said Charles. “Through our course and research project, students will have real-world experiences related to the justice system and hear from a variety of professionals in the field. This is all valuable experience that can enhance their career development.”

Dr. Candice Salyers from the School of Performing and Visual Arts and Dr. Katrin Pesch from the School of Coastal Resilience

Dr. Candice Salyers from the School of Performing and Visual Arts (left) and Dr. Katrin Pesch from the School of Coastal Resilience

The second project will be led by Dr. Candice Salyers from the School of Performing and Visual Arts and Dr. Katrin Pesch from the School of Coastal Resilience, partnering with the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain (LTMCP). In spring 2023, Pesch and Salyers will offer IDS 350: Moving Environments: Creative Outreach in the Mississippi Coastal Plain (cross-listed with FLM 478, SUS 350, and DAN 324,) in which students will learn about the environmental humanities and how art is integrated into educational, activist, and aesthetic movements. Students in the class will develop writing, video, and dance works that support LTMCP’s educational outreach goals.

“The degradation of our coastal wetlands is among the severe environmental problems Mississippi is facing, and we are grateful for this opportunity to collaborate on producing creative work that calls awareness to this issue,” Pesch and Salyers said in a statement. “In addition, we look forward to working with our students at LTMCP’s sites in the coastal landscape and to empowering them to take action to support their restoration."

During year two of the research series, Pesch and Salyers will work with selected students from the class to collaborate on a dance film exploring kinesthetic empathy between human bodies and bodies of water in Mississippi landscapes.

“USM has a wealth of resources, from scholarly expertise to the enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity of students,” said Christy Kayser, director of USM’s Center for Community Engagement. “The II Research Series provides a mechanism for applying resources to some of our community’s most critical issues.” 

Learn more about the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development online at www.usm.edu/ispd and the Center for Community Engagement at www.usm.edu/cce.