Letter from Dean Pamela E. Jansma
Interdisciplinary research is at the forefront of modern higher education as new areas of scholarship emerge from the boundaries of established and narrow fields of study. The idea is to bring multiple perspectives to the analysis of significant problems that cannot be solved using traditional methodologies. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has long championed cross-fertilization of knowledge across and among its departments both through formal programs and through individual research. This edition of Pinnacle truly embodies the essence of interdisciplinary work and conveys the excitement that it brings as well as highlighting the tremendous breakthroughs that are possible. The students in the Masters of Integrated Sciences were intentional in their pursuits, which led them to think broadly. Professors Thayer and Yeatman incorporated techniques from several disciplines to conduct research in health disparities and behaviors. Professor Walsh uses theatre to address social justice. Looking at questions with fresh perspectives can lead to connections not previously seen. The key is to find the questions to ask and to learn with purpose. As Professor Walsh says, "when you’re called, listen."
Pamela E. Jansma
- Romero Theater Troupe Turns Ten and Receives a National Human and Civil Rights Award
Born in a CU Denver Classroom, James Walsh's Passion Project Fulfils a Calling
It's been more than a decade since Political Science Instructor Jim Walsh transformed his lecture hall into a theater, bringing history to life for thousands of CU Denver students. From the classroom to the community, Walsh's vision of an all-volunteer, "organic" community theater collective is celebrating its 10th year with a humbling achievement.
The Romero Troupe's rotating corps of 70–200 members, ranging in ages from tweens to folks in their nineties, have been awarded the National Education Association's César Chávez Human and Civil Rights Award. This award is no small honor: last year's winner, Dr. Rodolfo Acuña, is considered the father of Chicano Studies. The Troupe was nominated for the award by the Colorado Education Association, for the work they did to support last year's teacher and student protests in Jefferson County and for maintaining a mission to bring to light the dignity and resilience of marginalized people through theater.
In This Issue
- Frontlines - Master of Integrated Sciences Brings Interdisciplinary Study to Purposeful Students
Akbar Esfahani transferred into the Master of Integrated Sciences (MIS) program from the Mathematics and Statistical Sciences department after he learned that he could design a degree that would make him uniquely qualified across a broad range of topics. "My interests have always been at the crossroads of math and its applications in the sciences. But a math degree could not teach me about scientific facts, and a pure science degree could not teach me about math. The MIS program allowed me to bundle up the two and learn both," he says. "The advantage that my degree has afforded me is that I was selected for a position that requires a PhD in Statistics, because of my degree in Integrated Sciences (specializing in Statistics and Geographic Information Systems), I had a better understanding of the challenges in spatial statistics as it relates to geography."
- Frontlines - Yeatman studies the effects of living with HIV/AIDS on childbearing and family planning
Although the world has been distracted lately by the recent deadly Ebola outbreaks, HIV is still the leading infectious killer and one of the most serious health problems facing the planet's population. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, since 1981, when the first cases were reported, an estimated 39 million people have died of AIDS-related causes. There are currently more than 35 million people living with HIV worldwide. More than 70% of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa. In many countries in this region, the prevalence of HIV is as much as 10–20% of the general population. The disease plays a big role in the high mortality rates in the region and adds a heavy burden to the economic development of these African nations. It may also have dramatic implications for family life and personal relationships. As a sociologist and demographer, Assistant Professor of Health and Behavioral Sciences Sara Yeatman seeks to help define and understand these implications and provide insight to how one African community is living with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- Frontlines - Thayer research shows link between ethnic discrimination and health of pregnant women and infants
In the first ever study to look at intergenerational effects of discrimination on stress hormones, Zaneta Thayer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, shows that women who experience racial discrimination while pregnant suffer significant health impacts that are passed on to their infants. "Many people think that ethnic discrimination only has psychological impacts," says Thayer, "But in fact, ethnic discrimination can impact physical health as well, possibly through changes in stress physiology functioning."