Dguidegue Joins Sociology Department

Dguidegue Joins Sociology Department

Dr. Yassine Dguidegue has joined the University of the Ozarks faculty as assistant professor of sociology, beginning the Fall 2019 Semester.

Dguidegue completed his Ph.D. in rural sociology in May from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He has served as a graduate teaching and research assistant at Mizzou since 2014 and is also the director of the university’s Deaton Scholars Program, a process-based peer mentorship program.

A native of Morocco, Dguidegue’s academic interests include, society science and technology, African food security, rural community development, experiential learning education, policy analysis and intercultural communication. His dissertation was titled, “Agricultural Genetic Engineering and Sustainable Development in the African Food Security Context.”

Before pursuing his Ph.D., Dguidegue worked as a teacher and program leader in experiential education programs in Vietnam and California. He also spent a year (2012-13) teaching at Heifer International in Perryville, Arkansas.

“I love the mission of University of the Ozarks and its focus on students,” Dguidegue said. “My background is in teaching, but in recent years I’ve focused on research during my time at the University of Missouri. However, my passion has always been teaching and that’s why Ozarks appealed to me so much. I’m excited about getting back to teaching.”

He also said Ozarks’ LENS curriculum was a major draw.

“The emphasis on teaching as well as the interdisciplinary approach to education through the LENS program was what first caught my attention about this University,” he said. “I’m a huge advocate for a well-rounded, interdisciplinary education. A lot of colleges talk about an interdisciplinary curriculum but very few actually practice it like Ozarks does.”

Dguidegue earned his bachelor’s degree in language and pedagogy from The Faculty of Education in Rabat, Morocco, and a master’s degree in cross-cultural studies from the University of Mohammed the Fifth in Morocco.

Dguidegue has been actively involved in the Rural Sociological Society, the Borlaug Dialogues Program and Universities Fighting World Hunger program. He speaks four languages — Moroccan Arabic, English, classical Arabic and French — and is an avid soccer player and fan. He also enjoys cooking traditional meals with his family, organizing volunteering programs with community members and organizing outdoors and sports activities with colleagues and students.

University of the Ozarks Professor Dr. Jesse T. Weiss will premiere his documentary, “Natty Parks,” on the Ozarks campus at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Rogers Conference Center’s Hanna Room. The film was written, directed, filmed and edited by Weiss, professor of sociology and environmental studies. The documentary chronicles the journey that capped Weiss’ Spring 2018 National Parks course as students and faculty members travelled by road into the west to visit the national parks they had studied. The class traveled 3,500 miles, through seven states to visit nine national parks in 10 days. The film features Ozarks students Derric Davis, Jake Sawyer, Cat Thompson, Christina Waddle, Jonathan Barham, Tristian Leonard and Erika Henderson as well as Dr. Warren Sconiers, assistant professor of biology at Ozarks.  It also features original music recorded and produced by Neal Harrington, professor of art at Arkansas Tech University. “Natty Parks” was selected to screen at the 48th Annual Arkansas Sociological and Anthropological Association (ASAA) meeting at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., on Nov. 2. The Oct. 3 premiere on the U of O campus is open to the public and there is no charge for admission. Cast members will be on hand to answer questions during a panel discussion that will follow the film’s screening. Academic, author and pop music critic Jack Hamilton will discuss his recent book, “Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination,” at University of the Ozarks on Wednesday, March 28. The event, which is a part of the University’s Walton Arts & Ideas Series, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center. The public is invited and there is no cost for admission. Hamilton is an assistant professor of American studies and media studies at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 2014. His first book, “Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination,” was published by Harvard University Press in fall of 2016. He is also the pop critic for Slate magazine, where he writes about music, sports, and other areas of culture, and his work has appeared in The Atlantic, NPR, ESPN, Transition, L.A. Review of Books, and many other venues. In “Just around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination,” Hamilton declares his intent to “disrupt the stories that we have told ourselves about what we’ve partitioned as ‘black music’ and ‘white music’ and to identify what we are actually talking about when we say these things.” By putting rock music titans in conversation with artists they’re not usually connected with—Bob Dylan and Sam Cooke; The Beatles and Motown’s Funk Brothers; Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Janis Joplin—Hamilton introduces a new level of understanding of some of the most popular music of all time. Hamilton cited one example as The Rolling Stones. In the early 1960s, they emerge out of London as a group of white British kids who are curiously obsessed with the blues and soul, what was considered to be black American music. In the mid-1960s, the Stones are celebrated for their fluency in that tradition, but by the end of the decade, “instead of being viewed as channelers of the authentic, they are the authentic, and that’s a weird shift,” caused partly by the fact that recognition of the Stones’ engagement with their influences slipped as the band’s own story grew, said Hamilton. Mick Jagger becomes “the real thing,” and not just “the white British kid who can sort of sing like Muddy Waters.” Hamilton was born and raised in Boston. After spending a few years as a professional musician, he received a B.A. in English from NYU in 2003 and a Ph.D. in American studies from Harvard University in 2013. He spent the 2013-14 academic year as the inaugural postdoctoral research fellow at the Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Hamilton is currently working on a book about music and technology since 1970. For more information about Hamilton’s talk at U of O, please contact the Office of Public Relations at 479-979-1433.

As the spring 2012 semester came to a close, six Ozarks seniors gathered in the Hanna Room in Seay Student Center to present the results of their senior research projects.

The poster presentations summarized the research done by the students, who are all pursuing a major in either environmental studies or sociology. Senior seminars and senior thesis courses are research courses designed to be the culmination of the student's college experiences. "This is the capstone course for both programs," said Dr. Jesse Weiss, Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies. "The goal of the class is to see if they can take a concept and carry it through and do some research and draw some conclusions."

Weiss said the students used three research methods in their projects - policy evaluation, content analysis, and literature review. The May 3 poster presentations gave the students an opportunity to describe their research methods and summarize their results for the guests who attended.

Dixie Crucifixions and Puppet Masters: An Examination of 20th-Century Black Militant Literature through a Marxist Lens was the topic of the presentation by Matthew Arant, from Georgetown, Tex. "I'm a history and literature as well as sociology major," Arant said, "so I had the kind of tall task of weaving both into one paper that made sense." For his study, Arant examined 20th century black militant literature, starting with the writings of Langston Hughes, and ending with works by Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, a timeframe that extends from the 1920's to around 1953. "I looked at their relationship with Communism or Marxism," he said, "and I found a significant pattern." Arant said that Hughes started out very idealistically, with his writings urging for a bi-racial work community - communism - as opposed to a segregated work community. But Arant said that as time went on, he found that other African-American writers, including Wright and Ellison, began to distance themselves from the ideas of communism. Arant said he was very surprised by what he found in his research. "I didn't really notice that pattern until I started reading a lot of scholarship on Native Son," he said.

"Senior

Six Ozarks seniors gathered in the Hanna Room in Seay Student Center on May 3 to present the results of their sociology or enviornmental studies senior research projects.

Kendra Branson's environmental studies research topic was Opposition to Elk Expansion in the Bearcat Hollow. A business administration and environmental studies major from Olathe, Col., Branson examined a number of documents related to the proposal which calls for the clear-cutting of 17,000 acres in the Big Piney Ranger District to expand elk habitat. Her research sought to understand how the public reacted to the proposal, and to suggest reasons why they may have reacted the way they did. Among the documents she examined were the environmental assessment study produced by the U.S. Forest Service, a number of newspaper articles, the public comments submitted to the forest service, and the agency's responses to the comments. Branson found that overall, public reaction to the proposal was negative. "A lot of people think that because they're expanding the habitat, they're bringing in more elk," she said, "but that's not the case." Her research suggested that the negative responses were a result of poor communication by the agencies involved. "A lot of the problems the forest service had came because they used technical terminology," Branson said. "The common person doesn't have a clue what [they] mean. The other problem is (she pointed to the environmental assessment) - this is 100 pages long - this is what they want you to read. To communicate with the public, the forest service is going to have to change their tactics."

Tristan Cooper, a biology and environmental studies major from Clarksville, Ark. researched the literature to find information about public opinion regarding the U.S. Forest Service practice of controlled burning. The topic has a special significance for Cooper, who has actually helped with controlled burns as part of his work for the Forest Service. His presentation, Public Perception of Prescribed Burning as a Resource Management Tool, first explored the historical context for wildfires, and then described how fire shapes the ecosystem. He then looked at the public reaction to the prescribed burns. "There's about a 70/30 split between people who support it, and people who don't like it," he said. "Lots of people don't understand it."

Andrew Heim, a sociology major from Arlington, Tex., explained his topic, Privileged Gender Socialization's Perpetuation of Patriarch: How Religious Identity Relates to Sexism, this way: "It's a fancy way of saying 'boys are taught to be boys, and girls are taught to be girls, and with that males are valued higher in society and treated differently.'" Heim said he wanted to explore where that differential treatment has its roots. Using the General Social Survey (GSS), which is a survey done by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, Heim cross-tabulated data to determine how people who self-identified as orthodox Christian answered specific questions related to gender issues. "I wanted to see, with respect to a person's religious identity, is there a correlation between religious beliefs and sexism," he explained. Heim said that his results suggest that there is, in fact, a strong correlation between religious belief and patriarchal attitudes.

Personal interest and experiences led Monica Linares to select her research topic, Perceptions of Violence in El Salvador: A Content Analysis of Four Blogs. The economics and sociology major from La Libertad, El Salvador said "I decided to study violence in El Salvador, first of all because I'm from there, and second of all because I want to help El Salvador, and one of the most pressing problems that needs to be addressed is violence." Linares said she decided to do a content analysis of blogs because they're usually updated on a regular basis, and they often have much pertinent information. She used a coding method to identify topics related to violence in the bogs, and found three prominent themes: Remilitarization of the security forces, government negotiations with gangs, and violence against environmental activists. Linares said her research has special significance for her as she finishes up her schooling and returns to El Salvador. "I want to work for an NGO to try to foster social and economic development in El Salvador," she said.

Travis Morgan, a sociology major from Ozarks, Ark., conducted a literature review to determine what influence, if any, Christianity played in framing the nudist subculture. "I wanted to see if Christianity condemned [this lifestyle] or was more open to it," he said. His research, entitled Christianity and Social Nudism: Can they Co-Exist? found that in fact, in many instances, Christians are very open to the nudist lifestyle. Morgan said that he found no evidence supporting the suggestion that Christians viewed the nudist lifestyle as deviant behavior - in fact, the literature actually suggests that Christianity holds a very benevolent view of the sub-culture. Morgan said that he hopes his research can be used as the foundation for further research into the topic.

With the completion of their poster presentations, the six students, Arant, Branson, Cooper, Heim, Linares, and Morgan, have met the final requirement for the senior seminar course. All six are set to graduate on May 12.

For more information about the environmental studies or sociology program, contact Dr. Jesse Weiss at jweiss@ozarks.edu, Dr. Kim Van Scoy at kvanscoy@ozarks.edu, or see the majors section here on the Ozarks website.

Students in the Ozarks Sociology and Environmental Studies programs will hold a senior thesis poster symposium on Thursday, May 3 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Hannah Room in the Seay Student Center.

The poster symposium will feature:

Andrew C. Heim, Privileged Gender Socialization's Perpetuation of Patriarch: How Religious Identity Relates to Sexism

Matthew Arant, Dixie Crucifixions and Puppet Masters: An Examination of 20th-Century Black Militant Literature through a Marxist Lens

Tristan James Cooper, Public Perception of Prescribed Burning as a Resource Management Tool

Travis J. Morgan, Christianity and Social Nudism: Can They Co-Exist?

Kendra Branson, Opposition to Elk Expansion

Monica Linares, Perceptions of Violence in El Salvador: A Content Analysis of Four Blogs

The poster symposium is free and open to the public, and convocation credit is available for Ozarks students who attend.

For more information about the symposium, contact Dr. Jesse Weiss at jweiss@ozarks.edu.

In what Dr. Jesse Weiss says may have been the toughest competition to date, 13 re-imagined Barbie and Ken dolls vied for the title of "Barbie Bash 2012 Champion" in his spring Social Problems class.?But in the end, it was Vagabond Barbie who took the win, narrowly edging out Popeye Barbie and Playboy Bunny Ken.
"VagabondVagabond Barbie, the creation of Jessica Osterdock and Brandon Neal, was the winner of Barbie Bash 2012. She and the other re-imagined dolls will be on display in the Smith-Broyles Science Center for the rest of the semester.
Just who is this previously unknown Barbie? Vagabond Barbie is the re-imagined toy created by students Jessica Osterdock and Brandon Neal. As she made her way up to the front of the class, Weiss looked curiously at the unkempt Barbie and asked, "Who do we have here?" "We've got Vagabond Barbie," said Neal. "Vagabond Barbie…." Weiss said. "She's a hobo," elaborated Osterdock. "Barbie is usually the pretty girl. She has the great car, the clothes, the friends, the long sleek hair…this Barbie - not so much, at all. She just kind of went crazy and then didn't have a chance to get herself back out of the hole so now she's on the street." "So she's homeless?" Weiss asked. "Yes," Osterdock confirmed, as Neal elaborated. "The stereotype Barbie gives off is that you always see Barbie as the one that always does nothing but accessorize, and plays little dress up parties and what not," he said. "But the thing is, she always achieves every career she ever wanted. She's 'Nurse Barbie,' 'Vet Barbie' - any aspiration or ambition she has, she always achieves that. But all she ever does is play dress up. There needs to be a correlation between if you ever want to get anywhere you have to apply yourself, do hard work. Playing dress up, playing around - not actually applying any hard work - that's not going to land you those jobs that Barbie always gets." "So this Barbie didn't work hard so she ended up on the street?" Weiss asked. "Yes," Osterdock and Neal said. "What sort of message do you think this would send to kids?" Weiss then asked. "What NOT to do," they exclaimed in unison. By challenging the accepted Barbie stereotype, Vagabond Barbie has finally achieved the fame and success she was destined for, joining previous Barbie Bash winners Hooter-licious Ken and Ballerina Ken. All joking aside, Vagabond Barbie and the other 12 re-imagined dolls in the Barbie Bash competition have accomplished exactly what Weiss had in mind when he first gave the assignment three years ago. Weiss said that even with their sometimes off-the-wall names, the re-imagined dolls have caused his students to really think about what it means to be male or female in our society. Weiss said the idea for Barbie Bash came a few years ago, when he read about a professor at Utah State University who used Barbie dolls as part of a project for a mass communications course. "Everybody knows about Barbie…everybody has seen a Barbie doll," he said. So he decided to ask his students to do something similar; to re-imagine one of the dolls as a way to get them thinking about the social problems associated with gender in a way that was active and creative. Too often, Weiss says, the toys we give our kids are very limiting in showing ideas about masculinity or femininity. "This is especially the case for little girls, who get very limited into that kind of 'domestic role' because they're socialized into that," he said. "The toys they play with reinforce that. You can walk down the aisle at the store and see a very clear difference between the masculine toys and the feminine toys. We're raising boys to be one way, and girls to be another way." So what exactly does it mean to "re-imagine" a doll? Essentially, Weiss said, the students are asked to redesign their doll so that it no longer conforms to society's definition of accepted male or female roles. They come up with clothing and props that support the doll's new gender role, then present their creation to the class, explaining how the doll challenges traditional gender norms, and describing what type of message the doll would send to a child who purchased and played with it. The assignment has generated some pretty interesting characters over the past three years. Weiss thinks this is because it gets the students to think about the impact that things we take for granted - like the toys we give to our children - can have on how we grow up, how we socialize, and on how we interact with one another. He said the students in this class upped the ante, coming up with dolls that challenge an even broader range of gender stereotypes than ever before. In addition to Vagabond Barbie, students re-imagined:
  • Popeye Barbie, bravely takes on Bluto to save Popeye. Now Popeye is the "damsel in distress."
  • Playboy Bunny Ken, wearing bunny ears and a skimpy bunny outfit complete with bunny tail, encouraging a loose, sexually active lifestyle.
  • Bubble Bath Ken, soaking in a tub of bubbles, because every guy would kill to do it.
  • Headless Horsewoman Barbie, riding a black horse while carrying her head in her hands, who is the incarnation of fear.
  • Time-Lord Barbie, who doesn't need others to save her; she can save the universe all by herself.
  • Presidential Barbie, running for President in the 2012 election.
  • Barbie in Shining Armor, who is a warrior on the battlefield of life.
  • Drag Queen Beiber, dressed in his finest pageant dress, because boys can enter pageants too.
  • My-Wife-is-the-Breadwinner Ken, wearing an apron and carrying a tray of cookies, who says "Barbie works to support the family."
  • Break-up (Emotional) Ken, sitting in bed, crying, eating popcorn, and watching "The Notebook" after his girlfriend broke up with him, because guys have emotions too.
  • Sports Fanatic Barbie, whose shirtless chest is painted in her favorite team's colors, because she wants to do the same things as the guys.
  • Pageant Barbie, who is not home tending to the kids.
Weiss said that while one goal of the assignment is to have students think about how their doll breaks traditional gender stereotypes another equally important goal is to get students to recognize how society reacts to people who are outside the norm. Pointing out Sports Fanatic Barbie and Break-up (Emotional) Ken, he said, "We have very negative stereotypes for girls that are physically active and that are competitive, just like we have negative stereotypes for boys that are not competitive or who are emotional, or who don't necessarily meet those standards," he said. "It's pretty significant, because gender is a really important aspect of our 'self.' It's very important culturally, but it's also very important individually." Interestingly enough, Weiss said that this year is the first time Barbie has actually won the Barbie Bash. Why is that? "Perhaps for men, if they engage in gender behavior that isn't appropriate, the stakes are a lot higher," he suggested. "A man who is a ballerina is far more attention-grabbing than a woman who is a soldier. I think it shows that men are just as constrained [as women]. Yeah, we live in a patriarchy, yeah, it's male-dominated, but it doesn't mean there aren't effects and impacts that men feel, and that they're not constrained by their gender in the same way women are." While getting students to recognize gender stereotypes and the factors that influence our behavior is an important lesson, Weiss said that perhaps the most critical thing he hopes students learn from the Barbie Bash is this: from a sociological perspective, difference isn't a problem; the problem comes when the difference is used to differentiate and discriminate. "The fact that men and women are different is not an issue - it's true," Weiss said. As a sociologist, Weiss said he tries to convey to his students the importance of valuing things equally, because humans tend to behave toward things in a way that reflects how they value them. "We de-value women in our society," he said. "Certainly women participate in their own subjugation, but that doesn't make it ok. That's the overall point of the assignment - to get the students thinking about some of those things in a real-world way. If I can get them to start reading between the lines and thinking critically and adopting the sociological perspective, that's a victory, right?"

Clarksville, Ark. --- Dr. Anna Zajicek, Director of Graduate Studies at the Sociology and Criminal Justice department at University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, will be on campus on Monday, February 27, to meet with students interested in pursuing graduate studies in sociology at U of A.

"Dr.

Dr. Anna Zajicek will be on campus on Monday, February 27, to speak to students about graduate studies in sociology at U of A.

During the meeting, Zajicek will discuss the work being done in the U of A sociology program, and will give students an overview of the master of arts degree program along with the department's new concentration in criminal justice. She will also explain the process for applying to the sociology program, and will review the options for graduate study.

Zajicek will also give students insight into research opportunities available through the sociology program, including research projects conducted in conjunction with the university's Community and Family Institute (CFI) and The Terrorism Research Center. The Community and Family Institute was created in 1997, and focuses its research efforts on community and family issues or problems. The Terrorism Research Center was created in 2003, in an effort to better understand issues involved with terrorism, extremist violence, and the effectiveness of intervention strategies. The TRC is home to this countries longest running research project, the American Terrorism Study.

According to Dr. Jesse Weiss, Ozarks associate professor of sociology and environmental studies, the meeting will take place at 12 noon, on Monday, February 27 in room 127 of the Smith-Broyles Science Center, with refreshments available. All students who are interested in learning more about the sociology program at U of A are encouraged to attend.

On Nov. 11, ten students from Ozarks, members of the Sigma Alpha sociology club and other sociology majors and minors, attended the Arkansas Sociological and Anthropological Association (ASAA) meeting at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark.

The trip marked the first time students from U of O had attended the conference. “We wanted to take students there to get a taste of the professional world in sociology and anthropology,” said Sigma Alpha President Monica Linares. “There were several very interesting presentations. Topics ranged from blaming teachers for the flaws of the educational system, to the Occupy Wall Street movement, alternative economics, and ethnic groups in Japan.”

The conference was held at Heifer Ranch, the site of Heifer International, a global nonprofit whose goals include ending poverty and hunger through education. The group was established in 1944 and gives out gifts of livestock, seeds and trees and extensive training to those in need.

“We were excited to see what the presentations were like, because in the very first one, they covered topics that we had just been discussing in class,” Linares said. “This sort of event is what we’ll be doing in our professional lives later, so just being there and realizing how much we already knew was pretty fantastic.”

"Sociology

Ozarks sociology students recently attended the Arkansas Sociological and Anthropological Association (ASAA) meeting at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark.

She added that although they were only spectators at this particular conference, the ASAA is planning a follow-up conference for undergraduate students in April at University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and Ozarks has been invited to participate. “Several of us who are seniors are going to present papers here on campus this spring,” Linares said. “Our plan is to go ahead and present them in Little Rock as well.”

The trip had an unexpected outcome. Since it was held at Heifer Ranch, the students toured the facility while there. “We saw their global village,” said Linares, “as well as the animals they share with people around the world. The village is a series of model homes representing the way people live in many different poverty stricken areas of the world.”

Students come to Heifer and participate in overnight programs “in which nothing – shelter, food, water or cooking fuel - can be taken for granted. Participants prepare a meal with limited resources and sleep in simple housing,” to quote the group’s web site.

“It was really interesting,” Linares said. “I am from Central America, and they had a house representing a poor Guatemalan home. It was somewhat shocking to see the reality represented in that way. Actually that house is nice compared to the really poor houses in our country, but at the same time it was cool to see because those houses represent something many people here can’t really understand.”

Linares said the Ozarks psychology and sociology clubs want to collaborate and plan an overnight stay at Heifer in the near future to participate in the program. “They are making a campus outreach,” she said, “so we want to get involved. It is a very important organization, and we’d like to bring a speaker here, or plan an activity here related to Heifer.”

Linares said she’s glad Ozarks participated in the conference. “Although we’re a small chapter,” she said, “I think we represented U of O very well, and it definitely helped create a bond among our group.”

Mattel's bestselling Barbie doll has gone through a lot of changes since her debut in 1959.

However, you would be hard-pressed to locate any of the following at your local toy store: the Flyfishing Outdoor Barbie, the Handywoman Barbie, the Hooters Waiter Ken, Gladiator Barbie, or the Frederick’s of Hollywood supermodel Ken.

The one place you can find them is in Dr. Jesse Weiss’ Intro to Sociology class. For the third year, Dr. Weiss and his students have held a “Barbie Bash,” a project in which students are asked to examine gender roles in American society and design Barbie or Ken dolls which go against such gender categorization.

“After Christmas I buy up a lot of Barbies off the clearance racks,” said Dr. Weiss. “This project looks at gender socialization – the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture – and so the assignment is to re-imagine Barbie or Ken in violation of stereotypical gender norms. They make new costumes and props for their dolls, and in their presentation talk about how they would market the Barbie, what they would call it, and whether or not they consider their projects to be positive or negative role models.”

"Bianca

“Barbie Bash” winners Bianca Cea and Ana Hernandez display their prize belts, their “Hooter-licious” Ken doll, and big smiles. The girls were winners of a project in Dr. Jesse Weiss’ Introduction to Sociology which looks at gender socialization issues by having the students re-imagine Barbie and Ken dolls that violate stereotypical gender norms.

After their presentations, students vote for the best modified Barbie, and winners receive Dr. Weiss’ jewel-encrusted gold wrestling-style prize Barbie Bash Belt – “Which I have decorated,” he explained to the class, “in my own free time, right before class, with some arts and crafts that are still all over my desk.”

One of the entrants in this year's bash was the CombatVet Barbie, who had a prosthetic leg. “Because Barbie is always able-bodied, we decided to create a Barbie that is a war vet,” said creators Matt Friant and Richard Rumpf. “The doll violates social norms because she has gone into combat and suffered. She would be marketed with the message that women and men are equal in military and even when something out of control is thrown into your life, it’s still possible to bounce back and continue on.”

Combat Vet Barbie came with decorations including her “Private Barbie” nametag, an Iraqi vet patch, a “Semper Fi” patch, and a tattoo of a heart with the letter “K” in it – for her boyfriend Ken, back home.

Other entrants, including the Victoria Secrets Runway Model Ken, the Gladiator Barbie, and the winning “Hooter-licious” Hooters Waiter Ken, all conveyed similar messages, according to their creators. As winners Ana Hernandez and Bianca Cea put it, “If you aspire to do something not standard for your gender, go for it. This doll teaches that men can sell chicken wings as well as women can.

“Usually men are trapped in the kitchen at Hooters, but not here,” they said.

Dr. Weiss said past notable entrants in the project have included Joe Ballerina (GI Joe re-imagined), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Barbie, Stay At Home Ken, Transgendered Beauty Queen Ken, and Same-Sex Adoption Ken and Ken.

The dolls will be on display in the glass display cases on the first floor of Smith-Broyles Science Center through the end of the semester.

 

Clarksville, Ark. --- "From ghoulies and ghosties / And long-legged beasties / And things that go bump in the night, / Good Lord, deliver us!" Thus goes the old Scottish children's prayer.

On a recent Sunday night, U of O students had the opportunity to put this theory to the test as part of summer coursework. Students of both Dr. Brian McFarland’s Science and Pseudoscience course and Dr. Jesse Weiss’s Sociology of Paranormal Belief course met as night fell to conduct a ghost tour of the U of O campus.

It was not the first time. “We have had professional ghost hunters on campus before,” said Dr. McFarland, “and so we modeled this excursion on those.” He made available to the large and excited group of students – members of both classes and another dozen who’d shown up just out of curiosity – the usual ghost hunter gear, including flashlights, electro-magnetic field (EMF) detectors – “ghost meters” which measure fluctuations in energy fields – and a digital audio recorder for recording sounds too faint for the human ear.

Ghost hunting has been a popular activity for decades, though in recent years television shows like “Most Haunted,” “Ghost Hunters,” and “Ghost Adventures” have led to a surge in interest in the activity. In Arkansas, Eureka Springs is particularly well known for its ghostly tourism industry, centering around the Crescent Hotel.

While many groups claim to utilize scientific methods, no scientifically testable and verifiable evidence supports the existence of ghosts. According to skeptical investigator Joe Nickell, the typical ghost hunter is practicing pseudoscience – the subject of Dr. McFarland’s course. "The least likely explanation for any given reading is it is a ghost," maintains Nickell. Orbs of light that show up on photos, he says, are often particles of dust or moisture. "Voices" picked up by tape recorders can be radio signals or noise from the recorder, and EMF detectors can be set off by faulty wiring or microwave towers.

Based on the number of wide eyes among the students, they might be inclined to disagree.

The ghost hunt encompassed four campus buildings, beginning in the Smith-Broyles science building, moving on then to the Walton Fine Arts building, Munger Chapel, Walker Hall, and ending up back again at the end at Smith-Broyles.

The ghostly routine was the same in each building. The students broke into teams and moved quickly and nervously through the darkened buildings, giggling and shrieking when an unexpected turn led into a darkened closet or a fellow student.

Intriguing results obtained everywhere. In the basement of Walton, the magnetic meter pulsed each time in response to a series of questions asked by teacher and students, the results hopefully recorded on the digital recorder that was running through the entire interview.

In the basement of Munger Chapel, an apparent ghost made the meter flash four times upon request of the astonished students. In the main part of the chapel, 29 flashes came in response to a question of the age of the “spirit.”

The ghostly sighting of a young girl with a blanket was reported in years past at Walker Hall, site of the former Hurie Hall, but lack of air conditioning limited the amount of time ghost hunters could endure searching the building, and no apparitions were in evidence.

According to a survey conducted in October 2008 by the Associated Press and Ipsos, 34 percent of Americans say they believe in the existence of ghosts. Moreover, a Gallup poll conducted on June 6 - 8, 2005, showed that one-third (32%) of Americans believe that ghosts exist.

Dr. McFarland’s popular class next takes up the subject of UFOs, followed by cryptozoology (the science of “hidden animals”) and alternative medicine.

"Ozarks'

Ghost hunters Jessie Raglin and Kiplyn Phillips watch their EMF meters in anticipation of haunting activity alongside fellow enthusiasts in Munger Chapel during a recent late-night ghost hunting expedition. Members of the group were students in U of O summer courses.