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FBI data: Portland homicides up 83% from 2019 to 2020

Data from the FBI’s 2020 Uniform Crime Report show the number of homicides rose nearly 83% from the previous year.

In 2020, there were 53 homicides reported. In 2019, there were 29. The number of homicides reported in 2020 is more than double the number in 2018 and 2017.

Clayton Mosher.

In February 2021, Clay Mosher, a sociology professor at Washington State University Vancouver who studies crime trends, told KOIN 6 News it’s possible crime during the COVID-19 pandemic years could prove to be a statistical anomaly and he’s interested to see what the long-term data will show.

In 2021, the Portland Police Bureau says there were 60 homicides reported between January and August.

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Program integrates community service into coursework

Hundreds of students on several Washington State University campuses will participate in community service projects as part of their English classes this year.

For his English 101 classes, WSU Pullman Teaching Assistant Professor David Martin wanted the service-learning component to be research focused; however, he did not have a clear idea of what types of projects would work in his curriculum.

“I was able to learn what other faculty in CES (Community Engaged Scholars) were doing and I found that to be very useful,” Martin said. “It got my mind and wheels turning on some possibilities for my classes.”

This semester, his students are working with community partners in the Palouse region to identify local challenges such as food and housing insecurity, abandoned pets, and stream erosion. They will create a problem statement, write a literature review, and pitch ideas for how those challenges can be resolved.

Students in Linda Russo’s English 302 class will work with the Palouse Conservation District to restore areas along the Palouse River. She said CES inspired her to explore what literary studies can look like when students literally get their hands dirty.

Vanessa Cozza and Johanna Phelps, English professors on the Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses, respectively, said students in their technical and professional writing classes are working with multiple community partners to create promotional materials such as instruction manuals, brochures, logos, and website designs.

Vanessa Cozza.
Linda Russo.
Johanna Phelps.

One of the greatest benefits of participating in CES, according to Martin, Phelps, Russo, and Cozza, was the opportunity to meet other faculty interested in service-learning. Many have stayed in touch with each other since the program concluded.

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WSU Insider

Does funding help encourage women to run for legislative office?

Research explains when political financing works — and when it doesn’t

By Ragnhild Muriaas and WSU political science professors Amy G. Mazur and Season Hoard

Season Hoard.
Amy Mazur.

Early voting is opening in Virginia and Democrats are determined to retain control of the legislature. In the first state elections since President Biden took office and Texas adopted the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, 50 of 97 Democratic nominees are women.

Many female nominees are backed by seed money from political organizations dedicated to fight for more diversity in elected office. Such programs have helped female candidates winning seats before. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), before she became a member of Congress, was recruited by Justice Democrats, an organization that offered her training, a platform and some campaign funding.

But that’s unusual. In the United States and across the globe, political power is heavily skewed toward the rich. Structural barriers make it almost impossible for women from working-class backgrounds — like Ocasio-Cortez — to win public office.

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Washington Post

Ways to bridge community divides

Helping to bridge divides of understanding within communities is at the heart of four free, public presentations by Washington State University professors to be hosted online in October.

Jennifer Sherman.
Michael Goldsby.

Sociologist Jennifer Sherman will present “Diamonds in the Rough: The Gentrification of Rural Washington” on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. and on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at noon. Philosopher Michael Goldsby will present “Why Deny Science” on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 5:30 p.m. and on Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m.

Matthew Avery Sutton.
Stephen Stehr.
Stephen Stehr
Bill Kabasenche.

In addition to Sherman and Goldsby, WSU professors Bill Kabasenche in philosophy, Matthew A. Sutton in history and Steven Stehr in political science are members of the Humanities Washington (HW) Speakers Bureau for 2021–23.

The non-partisan Foley Institute seeks to broaden the educational experience of WSU students and the surrounding community by engaging prominent speakers who encourage thought-provoking discussions and by supporting student internships in public service and scholarly research into public policy and political institutions.

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WSU Insider

Preventing fires from destroying entire towns will take communities learning to live with fire

In recent years, small towns, like Malden, Washington, have become victim to catastrophic fires that burned around them.

Matthew Carroll.

The three main factors that are leading to greater fire risk are a changing climate including hotter temperatures and drought, vegetative conditions and people choosing to live in homes built in or near forests, said Washington State University professor, school of the environment, Matthew Carroll, who studies how communities in the West can better adapt to “megafires.”

Conditions with large unkempt forest floors and debris have only gotten worse over the years as the techniques for fighting fire focused mostly on suppression and not about preventing it through prescribed burns or thinning trees, Carroll said.

The Legislature passed a bill last session that will direct $125 million every two years for forest health and wildfire prevention. That money will be broken down into three buckets: wildfire response, forest health and community resilience.

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The Spokesman-Review
The Neighbor