Missouri State University
Sociology and Anthropology Blog

Presentation on Careers with the Centers for Disease Control

Missouri State Anthropology alumnus Frank Burkybile (2008) will discuss his work as a Public Health Analyst with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which has taken him to Botswana and Nigeria. He will also discuss internship and employment opportunities with the CDC. This presentation will be in Strong Hall 302 at 3:30 on Thursday January 29. Everyone is invited.

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Images from Ferguson: Initial Thoughts and Perspectives

Glenda Harrison teaches sociology at Missouri State University. In this blog, she shares about her experiences traveling to Ferguson, Missouri to talk with people in the area about the shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent protests.


Several years ago I read a book by Jonathan Kozol titled “Savage Inequalities” which highlighted the weakened infrastructure of the inner urban cities. In his book, Kozol traveled across the United States studying various schools located in urban areas; comparing the social structure of inner cities to those in middle and upper class regions. Due to my proximity to East St. Louis, Illinois, I decided to focus on the decline of that area. I extended my analysis to Ferguson, Missouri with the protests that erupted from the shooting of Michael Brown in the summer of 2014.


In my first visit to Ferguson, two weeks after the shooting, I was struck by the overwhelming ‘hope’ of the residents and their appreciation of support. I stood with the protesters across from the police station, discussing the chain of events related to Michael Brown, his family and the community. Protester signs stated things like, ‘Hands up-don’t shoot’ as cars went by honking their horns in support. People brought water, ice and food for the protesters creating a positive community feeling. There were many groups of people coming from all over the United States displaying community spirit. These protesters desired a non-violent protest but also expressed concern outsiders were stirring up many of the younger African-Americans in the community.

I also talked to a number of protesters and community leaders in the area. Michael Brown’s cousin talked to me for instance. One of the things that he wanted to know is why the officer shot Michael six times when Michael Brown did not have a weapon. Other people I talked to also questioned the officer’s actions.

The Missouri State Senator from District 14, Maria Chappelle-Nadal, was present at one of the protests. She was advocating for reform and bringing racial issues to the forefront of the discussion about the shooting. One area of concern expressed by the Senator was the lack of African-American voter registrations in the district. We also discussed the lack of minority’s representation in the political, administrative and law enforcement areas within the city.


While most people have been focusing on the race issues associated with the Michael Brown shooting, I have been examining the larger context of urban decline in places like East St. Louis and Ferguson. I plan to continue my visits to the area. I hope to provide a larger context for understanding the events that led to the shooting in Ferguson and how we may use this information to improve similar urban places.

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Working with Doulas: Reflections from SOC RA Jamie Orlando

Orlando FA14

Doulas are non-medical professionals who give support to mothers before, during, and right after, the birth of their children. They provide a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, and massage techniques to relieve pain during birth. They are a wonderfully kept secret in the Midwest; a resource that positively impacts women and their birth experiences. Research shows that doula services have a positive impact on the women they serve. The Doula Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides these resources to at-risk women near Springfield, MO. In 2014, the foundation asked the sociology department at Missouri State to determine the degree of impact the organization is having on their clients. This was done by analyzing the client intake data collected by the organization, surveying previous clients, and by conducting interviews with these clients.

The results from this research were outstanding. We found that breast-feeding rates of these women were much higher, C-section rates were lower, and 84% of respondents rated the Doula Foundation as an eight or higher on a ten-point scale. The testimonies from the women had a tremendous impact. A survey participant stated, “If it wasn’t for my Doula I don’t know what I would’ve done…My Doula was my life saver, my mother passed three weeks before I had my baby! She was my everything! If it wasn’t for my Doula, I can say I would’ve had my baby and given her to [her grandma and father] and left.”

Being part of this research has had an incredible impact on me. I learned how to apply practical skills outside the classroom, including interviewing, analyzing data, and report writing. I also learned the importance of doula services; knowledge I would not have acquired otherwise. However, what is even more eye-opening is working with this at-risk population. As sociologists we constantly study how an unequal society creates at-risk populations. Through this project I have been able to meet people who have really been given the short-end of the stick in our society, but whose lives have been made better by an organization who choose to care for women. It reminds me that as a society we have a long way to go, but as a community we can have lasting impacts on individuals if we so choose.

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Soc RA Reflects on Fall 2014 Research Experience

Giron FA14

Moises Giron was a sociology research assistant (Soc RA) for the Center for Social Science and Public Policy Research (CSSPPR) in the fall of 2014. In this blog, he reflects on his work for the semester.

Homelessness is one of the social problems that many members of our community struggle with. Not only does homelessness mean that an individual does not have a reliable, or stable place to live, but it also taxes his/her physical, mental, and emotional health, and it becomes costly for the community in which the homelessness occurs. The cost of hospitalization, incarceration, and shelter prove to be significant expenses to communities which ultimately use taxpayer money to cover the costs.

For my research, I studied Housing First, a program that has proven effective in many communities as a medium to help improve the social problem of homelessness. Among Housing First’s achievements:

• the reintegration of individuals as productive members into society,
• significantly cutting the costs of helping the homeless population.

The ultimate goal of my research is to demonstrate the effectiveness, and usefulness of the Housing First program, so that the application of the program may, one day, benefit Springfield.

It has been a true honor to work on this project. Although I do not claim to know all there is to know on the issue of homelessness, or its solutions, it has helped me learn more about this social issue, and the steps that have been taken to improve the lives of the homeless and the communities that are affected. I have very specific career goals. This is what I plan to accomplish:

To establish a non-profit organization with two main missions: 1. To establish medical institutions in underserved countries where medical care is not readily available, and, 2. to help with the issue of homelessness within the United States.

I am grateful for the opportunity to begin working toward one of my life’s missions. The research assistantship has been a great experience, and the professors in the sociology department at Missouri State University have been, and are, supportive, and helpful as I develop into the professional I want to become.

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Dr. Bill Meadows Speaks to Acoma Nation of New Mexico


On November 9, 2014, Dr. William C. Meadows spoke at a Veteran’s Recognition Dinner at Acoma Community Center for the Pueblo of Acoma Pueblo, a native American nation located one hour west of Albuquerque in New Mexico. A special part of the event was the recognition of the late Sgt. Paul R. Histia who was in a “radio net” of Native American Code Talkers, made up of individuals from several tribes, in the Army Air Corps, V Bomb Command, during World War II. Histia and other Native Americans used their native languages to conduct bombing raids throughout New Guinea and the Philippines. Part of Dr. Meadow’s research focuses on Native American Code Talkers from over 30 tribes that have used their native language in the United States Military during World Wars I and II. As part of the Code Talker Recognition Act of 2008, which Meadow’s research and testimony helped to pass, Histia was recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2013.




meadows1, fall 2014


pueblo-of-acoma-tribe-code-talkers-bronze-medal-art-movie-poster-prints meadows2, fall 2014







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Information Sessions on Summer Trip to Jamaica

Anthropology and History will jointly offer a summer (May) two-week Study Away adventure to Jamaica, focusing on the history and culture of the island. Two information sessions on this trip are scheduled for next week: Wednesday November 19 10:10-11:00 am in Strong 250 and Thursday November 20 2:00-2:50 pm in Strong 404. For more information please contact Dr. Wedenoja or Dr. Abidogun.



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Reflections on History Museum Internship

flavin fall 2014 internship picture
Amanda Flavin at her History Museum on the Square internship

Amanda Flavin, a senior in the anthropology program with a museum studies minor, envisions a future that includes working for the Field Museum in Chicago. In the meantime, she is archiving collections, verifying the inventory lists of the current collections to the corresponding catalog card, and helping put together and exhibit that will open in late November, as part of her current internship with the History Museum on the Square, Springfield, Missouri, for her minor. She recently worked on the museum’s annual fundraisers. The first was held in September to unveil the new Fox Theater sign, and the second was The Haunted Tours in October. She credits anthropology professor, Dr. Elizabeth Sobel, for putting her in touch with the museum.

“I couldn’t be happier that I got this opportunity to work with Joan Hampton-Porter, and the staff at the museum. This internship has already helped me narrow down my interests to exhibit set up, and object conservation,” says Amanda. She hopes the experience she has gained from this internship will help her get another internship in the spring of 2015 that will further her skills in museum work.

The History Museum on the Square has two upcoming exhibits: Windows at the Fox and Then and Now: Downtown for Christmas. Both exhibits open in November.Amanda will graduate in May, and hopes to take a year or two off before she pursues a Master’s degree.

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Archaeology presentation

Florice Pearce will give a presentation on her master’s research “A Study of the Plentiful Ivy Site and Other Selected Upland Sites in Southern Missouri” at the monthly meeting of the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society, Wednesday, November 5, at 7:00 pm at the University’s Center for Archaeological Research, 622 S. Kimbrough. For more information please call the Center at 836-5363. The public is invited.

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