Missouri State University
Arts & Letters Expressions
An online publication for the alumni and friends of the College of Arts and Letters

New documentary explores refugee crisis

Andrew Cline
Dr. Andrew Cline

Dr. Andrew Cline was supposed to be writing a book.

Cline, an associate professor in media, journalism and film said, “I was planning a book about Millennials and Boomers moving back into downtown. But I was sitting with my wife one day, and she said, ‘I noticed you’re not really getting after this project. What’s wrong?’”

Well, he explained, he didn’t really feel like writing another book. What he wanted was to make a movie.

“So my wife said, ‘Then why don’t you make a movie about it?’”

This conversation led to the founding of Carbon Trace Productions and the feature length documentary “Downtown,” which won Best Film in the Urban Sociology category of the 2016 New Urbanism Film Festival.

And it ultimately led to a new project that draws attention to the mental health crisis faced by children caught up in the Syrian civil war.

“Syrian Doctor”

W.D. Blackmon
Dr. W.D. Blackmon

Cline began his career as a news photographer, so he had a background in visual storytelling. Still, he called the transition into documentary filmmaking, “a big leap. Before working on ‘Downtown,’ I’d never put together a news video more than two minutes long,” he said. “Going out to 75 or 90 minutes was a big deal. But, you know, I did it, and we learned a lot. So why not keep going?”

He found an opportunity to keep going through an interdisciplinary collaboration with English department head Dr. W.D. Blackmon, who’d recently co-authored a memoir with Dr. Tarif Bakdash.

“Inside Syria: A Physician’s Memoir” chronicles Bakdash’s life growing up in Syria and his experiences as a pediatric neurologist working with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to treat Syrian refugees.

Blackmon and Cline sensed the multimedia potential for this story, and SAMS provided funding for a filming trip to document its work in the refugee camps.

In April 2017, Blackmon, Cline and a team from Carbon Trace (including Shane Franklin and Missouri State alumni Shannon Cay Bowers and Taye Taye, who served as cinematographer) spent a week filming in Jordan. The footage they gathered is the core of a documentary with the working title “Syrian Doctor.”

Documenting ‘human devastation syndrome’

When asked to describe the project, Cline said, “There is a mental health crisis, specifically involving Syrian children who have been displaced by war or born in refugee camps. (SAMS physician) Khaled Hamza has coined a new term for it: ‘human devastation syndrome,’ which is worse than posttraumatic stress disorder. The idea is that you’re rapidly coming to a situation where a large percentage of Syrian children are having their lives completely torn apart by war, and this is exactly the generation that’s going to have to rebuild Syria. So this is what the documentary is about — the mental health crisis of Syrian children, created by the civil war.”

The Carbon Trace Productions team met and filmed many children in Jordan’s refugee camps.

Cline hopes the documentary will inject fresh humanity and compassion into a topic that many may feel is too big to comprehend. “Yes, it deals in big numbers,” he said. “Eleven million Syrian refugees, and more than half are children. It’s a whole different understanding to see them and talk to them. It’s not that they want to go to Europe or America; they want to stay alive. And they really want to go home.”

In pursuit of the complete story

Sharing the complexity of these experiences can be challenging; in part, Cline said, “because journalism is always somewhat incomplete.” And in some sense, his new role as documentarian is an extension of his reporter’s drive to tell more complete stories.

“In any single bit of news coverage, it’s impossible to represent reality in the way that all parties subject to this news understand it. I think journalism is poorly taught when we use that ‘both sides of the story’ metaphor. There are so many sides to a story that thinking of it as having two sides actually harms good journalism, which is why I tell students, ‘Good journalism unfolds over time.’”

Carbon Trace Production team, filming in the Syrian refugee camps of Jordan
The children loved using Carbon Trace’s camera to take photos, like this one of Cline and Franklin.

“Good citizenship,” Cline continued, “also unfolds over time. It requires a good citizen to pay attention — read, watch and listen more deeply, so a documentary like this becomes a piece of that. What I hope people will see in this film is a bit of the story they’re not seeing in the news.”

Learn more

Posted in Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, Media Journalism & Film, Public Affairs | Leave a comment

John Prescott featured in Mind’s Eye

Congratulations to Dr. John Prescott! His work is being featured in the university’s 2017 edition of Mind’s Eye.

Here’s a sneak peek at the story:

Do you consider yourself to be creative? If you said no, you may want to reconsider, Dr. John Prescott said.

“I think everybody is creative to some degree, whether they’re creating artistic products or finding new ways to be an accountant or a building contractor,” said Prescott, professor of music at Missouri State University.

“Creativity is part of the human persona,” he said. “People will say, ‘Well, I’m not creative.’ They just aren’t realizing that creativity lies in a lot of directions, not just the arts.”

Hear his moving 9/11 tribute in the video below.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Publication and recognition for Stephen Spates

Dr. Stephen Spates, assistant professor in the department of communication, successfully defended his dissertation “Exploring Workplace Connections of Employees with Multiple Role Expectations: Accommodating Communication Behaviors of Hospital Chaplains” at the University of Tennessee.

Recent accomplishments


Spates has the following 2017 peer-reviewed publication:
  • Westerman, C. Y. K., Spates, S. A., Reno, K. M., Jenkins, E. W., & Lee, H. E. (2017). How Koreans and Americans use voice and silence to restore equity in workplace friendships. Ewha Journal of Social Sciences, 33, 181-223.


Workplace friendships develop because of increased proximity at work, creating the potential for inequity across both work and personal roles. Using communication to manage inequity in workplace friendships contributes to positive organizational outcomes. An experimental survey was conducted to learn more about voice and silence responses to inequity in workplace friendships in both Korea and the United States. This study extends equity theory across two cultures in the context of workplace friendships and communication responses. Message access exclusivity was also tested as a potential precursor to voice and silence responses. Working adults from both the U.S. and Korea were surveyed to learn their responses. Findings of the study are reported and implications of the findings are discussed.

Recognition from alma mater

This spring, Spates also received recognition from Oakwood University (where he received his Bachelor of Arts). He was included in the Oakwood Magazine feature “120 Faces of Oakwood University,” which was created in honor of the university’s 120th anniversary.
Posted in Communication, Faculty & Staff Accomplishments, Faculty News, News, publication | Leave a comment

Show-Me Chefs is going to the College Emmys

Student operating camera

Student-produced series Show-Me Chefs has been nominated for the Television Academy Foundation’s 38th College Television Awards (also known as the “College Emmys.”)

Show-Me Chefs is nominated in the Series-Unscripted category; named producers are Chelsea Eichholz, Daan Jansen and Ryan Gilyard.

Nominees will be honored in an awards ceremony, which will take place in Los Angeles on May 24. A group of students who have contributed to the show will be in attendance.

About the College Emmys

From the Television Academy Foundation:

The College Television Awards is a nationwide competition recognizing excellence in student work and spotlighting an inclusive group of talented storytellers and content creators who aspire to careers in the entertainment industry. All nominees and pre-announced award winners attend a two-day television summit prior to the awards, featuring a hands-on professional development experience and access to many of the industry’s top executives and innovators. They also become Television Academy Foundation alumni and are able to network and benefit from ongoing programs and offerings.

Regional Emmy success

Show-Me Chefs recently brought home two “Regional Emmys” from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Student Awards (NATAS). NATAS recognized Show-Me Chefs in the Long Form-Non-Fiction category, where Chelsea Eichholz, Daan Jansen and Ryan Gilyard were named as producers. It also awarded the promotional video “Show-Me Chefs Works with Local Community” in the Public Service category, where Jade Thomas, Chelsea Eichholz and C. Brian Light were named as producers.

Deb Larson
Dr. Deb Larson

About Show-Me Chefs

Since its first season in 2015, Show-Me Chefs has entertained audiences with televised culinary showdowns between area chefs. It’s quickly become a local tradition — with an emphasis on local.

Show-Me Chefs advisor Deb Larson, associate professor in the department of media, journalism and film, shared, “It sort of came to me as we were developing the show that most Americans are very disconnected from our food sources and producers.”

Larson said, “I want people to know we have all kinds of food being grown right here in southwest Missouri. Even year round you can buy fresh produce at the farmers markets. It’s a celebration of who we are.”

An innovative take on public affairs

While the connection between a cooking show and Missouri State’s Public Affairs Mission may not be readily apparent, Larson sees a lot of overlap through community engagement. “We interface with so much of the Ozarks community to produce this show,” Larson said. “There are a lot of local food producers who are out there making a living or enhancing their income through their love of growing food, and we like helping people learn about and support them.”

Learn more about how Show-Me Chefs provides real-world experience and contributes to our community.

Posted in Media Journalism & Film, News | Leave a comment

Sarah Perkins featured in Missouri State’s research publication

Congratulations to Sarah Perkins! Her work is currently featured on the Missouri State research page.

Here’s a snippet:

Alchemy. The ancient desire to exchange the commonplace for the extraordinary — an impulse as understandable as it is unreachable.

Posted in Art + Design | Leave a comment

Carrisa Hoelscher’s 2017 publications

Carrisa Hoelscher
Dr. Carrisa Hoelscher

Dr. Carrisa Hoelscher, assistant professor of communication, recently published two national peer-reviewed articles and one peer-reviewed book chapter.

Dr. Hoelscher’s 2017 publications

  • Hoelscher, C. S., Kramer, M. W., Nguyen, C., Cooper, O. D. & Day, E. A. (2017). Decision making and communication in a statewide interagency task force: An investigation of planned versus utilized processes. Management Communication Quarterly. doi: 10.1177/0893318916661762 (Advanced online publication).
  • Cionea, I. A., Hoelscher, C. S., & Iles, I. A. (2017). Arguing goals: An initial assessment of a new measurement instrument. Communication Reports, 30, 51-65. doi: 10.1080/08934215.2016.1184695
  • Kramer, M. W., Hoelscher, C. S., Day, E. A., Nguyen, C., & Cooper, O. D. (2017). Collaborating while getting the job done on time. In R. Heath & M. Isbell (Eds). Interorganizational collaboration: Principled leadership and communication for the 21st Century. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Posted in Announcement, Communication | Leave a comment

Lanya Lamouria recognized with Curtis P. Lawrence Master Teacher Award

Lanya Lamouria
Dr. Lanya Lamouria is the recipient of the 2017 Curtis P. Lawrence Master Teacher Award

Dr. Lanya Lamouria was selected for the 2017 Curtis P. Lawrence Master Teacher Award.

The Honors College recognizes one faculty member with this award. The recipient is exclusively nominated by Honors College Students and chosen by an Honors College student committee in collaboration with the Honors College administrative staff

The award was created in honor of the first Director of Missouri State University’s Honors College, Dr. Curtis P. Lawrence, and is offered to recognize excellence in Honors teaching and mentoring.

Dr. Lamouria received this award at the All-Faculty Recognition Reception on May 2.

Posted in English | Leave a comment

Stanton, Turner recognized with General Education Assessment Award

The Council on General Education and Interdisciplinary Programs (CGEIP) has selected Dr. Rhonda Stanton and John Turner for the 2017 General Education Assessment Award for their leadership in assessment for improvement and for employing effective and innovative practices to help students achieve success in general education.

John Turner
Rhonda Stanton

Stanton was recognized for the course English 321: Beginning Technical Writing (Writing II). Turner was recognized for the course ENG 222: Writing for Social Change.

In 2016-2017, CGEIP reviewed 99 annual reports and selected seven general education course coordinators for this honor. Stanton and Turner were recognized for this achievement at the All-Faculty Recognition Ceremony on May 2.

Posted in English | Leave a comment

Melanie Dreyer-Lude recognized with Award for Excellence in Study Away Programming

Melanie Dreyer-Lude
Melanie Dreyer-Lude is a recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Study Away Programming Award

Melanie Dreyer-Lude was recognized for excellence in Study Away programming, specifically within the category of community engagement. Dreyer-Lude drew upon her professional knowledge, academic focus and passion for cultural learning to develop Experiencing Uganda: Service Learning in Kampala and Gulu. Beginning in May 2016, Dreyer-Lude traveled with students on a three-week cultural immersion program in Uganda. Students were challenged to be open-minded as they explored the similarities and differences of Ugandan and North American culture. They engaged with residents of Kampala as they incorporated an African fable into a play with the Ndere Culture Troupe. Students volunteered at orphanages and a primary school, swapped stories and ideas with students at Kyambogo University, navigated marketplaces and visited historical landmarks.

The Study Away program was a catalyst for teaching students about Ugandan culture, their own cultures and how they interact with the world. Dreyer-Lude encouraged students to adopt a global perspective as they assimilated back to the Missouri State community.

About the award

The Study Away Advisory Committee created the AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN STUDY AWAY PROGRAMMING in 2012 to recognize Missouri State faculty members who demonstrate excellence in developing and leading short-term study away programs. The award categories are Cultural Competence and Community Engagement.

The Community Engagement category recognizes faculty members whose programs enable students to participate in an organized service activity that meets reciprocally identified community needs. Each recipient receives $1,500 in professional development funds and a trophy.

This text originally appeared in the program for the All-Faculty Recognition Reception.

Posted in News, Public Affairs | Leave a comment

LeAnn Brazeal recognized with General Education Assessment Award

Dr. LeAnn Brazeal
Dr. LeAnn Brazeal is a recipient of a 2017 General Education Assessment Award

The Council on General Education and Interdisciplinary Programs (CGEIP) has selected Dr. LeAnn Brazeal for the 2017 General Education Assessment Award for her  leadership in assessment for improvement and for employing effective and innovative practices to help students achieve success in general education in COM 115: Fundamentals of Public Speaking.

In 2016-2017, CGEIP reviewed 99 annual reports and selected seven general education course coordinators for this honor. Dr. Brazeal was recognized for this achievement at the All-Faculty Recognition Ceremony on May 2.

Posted in Communication, Faculty & Staff Accomplishments | Leave a comment