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‘You belong’

Melissa Parkhurst.

Melissa Parkhurst, an associate professor in the School of Music, delivered the faculty keynote address at the WSU Pullman convocation. She reflected on the past year and a half and collected her thoughts.

“These freshmen and sophomores have lived through challenges, uncertainty and now, in many cases, are traveling long distances from home where they’re not sure what to expect or what they’ll find,” Parkhurst said.  “I thought about that and how we should welcome them and help them realize that while they may at times feel all alone, there are so many ways WSU is here to support them.”

At WSU, Parkhurst has brought cultural literacy and awareness to thousands of students across the university. Her courses provide ethnically diverse musical experiences, with performances and lectures from guest artists and hands-on workshops.

Central to her work is the concept of “personhood”—that the people about whom she writes and teaches are complex human beings.

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WSU Insider

Nobel laureate kicks off Foley Institute series on inequality

The 2015 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences will kick off a Washington State University Foley Institute lecture series that will explore the issue of inequality in the United States.

Cornell Clayton.

“Our hope is this series will help people rethink what they think about inequality,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service.

“One of the things that we’ve been trying to do at the Foley Institute at least one semester of the year is run a series on a particular topic then teach a course that coincides with that lecture series,” Clayton said. “We decided the politics of inequality was a particularly good topic, given how important it is right now in terms of driving the national dialogue. The series also aligns with this year’s Common Reading Book, Tales of Two Americas.”

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Mirage news

New NSF grant to increase math teacher diversity

A four-year, $1.12 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help Washington State University recruit and retain quality mathematics teachers from historically marginalized groups.

William Hall.

The project is being led by Tariq Akmal, director of teacher education in the College of Education and chair of the college’s Department of Teaching and Learning. He is being aided by co-investigators Kristin Lesseig, an associate professor of mathematics education at WSU Vancouver, also in the College of Education, and William Hall, an assistant professor of mathematics education in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Hall, who was a Noyce scholar himself during graduate school, said high school math teachers can have a tremendous impact on how students learn to think and reason quantitatively, and that includes matters of civics, social justice, and fairness.

“It is not always clear that you can be passionate about those ideas and use a career in teaching high school mathematics to explore them further and serve your community at the same time,” Hall said.

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WSU Insider

How Has Social Media Impacted Our Mental Health?

This week’s question would appear to answer itself: It is the rare person who emerges from an hour’s scrolling feeling healthy, rejuvenated, and better-prepared to take on the vicissitudes of the day. The general consensus among the terminally online would seem to be that the internet is a miserable place just barely made tolerable by the idiots and well-meaning naifs whose screw-ups at least provide something to ridicule. But is there a scientific basis for this generalized feeling? How has social media actually impacted mental health, per the research? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out.

Chris Barry.

According to Chris Barry, professor of psychology at Washington State University, whose work focuses on adolescent self-perception and social media engagement in adolescents and young adults:

It’s somewhat difficult to determine cause and effect with social media. It could be that social media impacts mental health, but it also could be that certain people who are feeling distressed and lonely seek out social media. So it’s a little bit of a chicken-and-the-egg situation.

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Census 2020: Spokane, Kootenai counties grew swiftly over the past decade

In news that should be unsurprising to anyone trying to find housing or merge onto Interstate 90 anytime near rush hour, Spokane and Kootenai counties together saw more than 100,000 new residents over the past decade, according to recently released U.S. Census data.

Travis Ridout.

Such an increase, and the national trend of increasing population away from rural areas and closer to more urban and suburban areas, will almost certainly influence electoral politics in state Legislatures, said Travis Ridout, a professor of government and public policy at Washington State University.

“It means more power for the cities and suburbs, and less power for those rural areas,” Ridout said.

Neither Washington nor Idaho will gain any new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Representation in that chamber of Congress is determined by a formula based on a state’s total population that was written in 1940.

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Spokesman Review