Kennesaw State University

This Girl’s On Fire

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KSU student turns up heat to raise funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

KENNESAW, Ga.  (July 24, 2015) — A challenge to raise thousands of dollars in a high-stakes fundraiser while competing against a team of A-listers with corporate names like Comcast, Henri Bendel, Cartooon Network and Sotheby’s International Realty behind them would give almost anyone pause.    

Y’all: It’s Older Than We Knew

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New digital databases are changing the history of linguistics

Making the Grade: Kids get summer jump start on writing careers

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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H.M. Cauley, For the AJC

12:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 23, 2015 

This summer, elementary and middle school students from around the metro area will be heading to college. In particular, they’re going to Kennesaw State University to be part of the Kennesaw Mountain National Writing Project’s youth academy.

This summer camp for aspiring writers and those who want to improve their written communication skills is offered by experienced language arts and English teachers who are part of the Writing Project initiative. Established in 1994, the Kennesaw site is one of 200 around the country that provides professional development for language arts and English teachers working in elementary and middle grades, as well as high school and college. Its annual June institute draws educators from around Atlanta who work on research and curriculum projects, as well as their own writing. This year, the summer institute expanded to offer special sessions to teachers in Cobb’s southwest school cluster.

“The institute is about teachers teaching teachers because they are the best generators of knowledge that works,” explained Jennifer Dail, the KMWP director. “And though there are also writing project sites at the University of Georgia and the University of West Georgia, we have the only one in the metro area.” ...


So What if Hillary Gives a Lousy Speech?

Name of Publication: 
The National Review
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by ELIANA JOHNSON June 16, 2015 4:00 AM

Hillary Clinton announced her first run for the presidency by e-mail and then by video, seated on a couch in the sunroom of her home and surrounded by overstuffed floral pillows. “While I can’t visit everyone’s living room,” she said, “I can try.” As an American teenager might say: awkward. Clinton’s second presidential announcement came on Twitter, then in another video that departed from the 2008 version in that it barely featured her. It went over a lot better.

On Saturday, Clinton re-launched her campaign with a speech, a move that underscores both the importance of speeches in American political life and one of Clinton’s greatest vulnerabilities. Great speeches require something Clinton has refused to give: exposure, access, the illusion of intimacy. Standing up in front of a crowd makes you feel a little bit naked. But speeches are supposed to give us a sense of who our politicians are, what they believe, whether they can perform under pressure — and, on a fundamental level, they are supposed to give us a sense of whether we like them or not. That’s why speeches have the potential to put politicians in the history books or write them out entirely. ...

Warren, and Obama before her, had the advantage of being able to introduce themselves to the country. Clinton doesn’t. “In order to make a great, groundbreaking speech it helps if one has something important, or new, to say,” says Kerwin Swint, a professor of politics at Kennesaw State University. “She doesn’t.” Swint says that, given Clinton’s voluminous public statements over the past three decades, “It’s hard to imagine her making a major policy address that would contain anything she hasn’t already laid bare. It would also be hard to see her making a major ‘personal’ address where she lays bare her soul.” ...


Best Places to Start a Business in Georgia

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Georgia checks a lot of boxes for business owners.

Low tax rates? Check. Ample technology infrastructure? Check. An abundance of well-educated workers? Check. Affordable cost of living? Check. Readily available support services? Check.

It’s no wonder the Peach State is consistently rated as one of the best states to start a business. . . .

Drew Tonsmeire

Area director, University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, Kennesaw State University

What makes Georgia a good place to start a business?


It’s kind of like choosing the location of your business, it’s never just one thing. It’s always a combination of, ‘Is the rent right? Does it have enough parking spaces? Is it easy for customers to get in and out?’ It’s the same kind of thing for Georgia, it’s not one thing. The cost of living, in comparison to the rest of the nation, is below average. Also, the tax structure is favorable in Georgia. We have a relatively low sales, personal and business tax rate. Depending on the business, that tax structure can be very important. In particular, for delivery business with a fleet of service vehicles, fuel charges are a huge thing. Georgia has one the lower fuel costs [in the country] so you’re not overburdened with fuel surcharges.

KSU honor students get face time with British cabinet member


British cabinet member Alistair Burt, center, meets with Kennesaw State PEGS students and program administrators in London.

UK tour part of presidential scholars’ global and leadership studies

KENNESAW, Ga. (June 3, 2015)— A cohort of third-year Kennesaw State University honors students left a lasting impression on a United Kingdom cabinet member just hours before he was to be sworn into his new office as a minister of state.

The 13 students in Kennesaw State’s President’s Emerging Scholars Program (PEGS) visited the House of Commons in London, where they were greeted by the Right Honorable Alistair Burt, a member of Parliament representing North East Bedfordshire.

Alistair spent nearly an hour in a committee room hosting a question-and-answer session with the PEGS scholars, even allowing them to sit in the same chairs the parliamentarians use when debating legislation. Following the meeting, he had nothing but good things to say about the Kennesaw State students.

“We all agreed that your group was one of the most charming and engaged overseas groups we have had the pleasure to meet,” Burt said in a message to Chris Young, executive director of CIFAL Atlanta and the organizer of the meeting. “What an excellent bunch of young people!”

Later that same day, Burt was sworn in as the UK’s new Minister of State for Community and Social Care. His responsibilities include managing the technology and statistics-gathering operations for the National Health System. He has served in a variety of parliamentary positions since 1983, including Minister of State for North American Affairs from 2010-2015.

Kennesaw State’s President’s Emerging Scholars Program is a multi-year experience that helps exceptional students develop leadership skills. Overseen by the University’s Honors College, the program includes rigorous academic coursework, undergraduate research, and international and domestic travel.

The PEGS students’ London visit was part of a larger, eight-day tour of the UK in May, during which they visited historic and political sites such as Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, the King’s Theatre, and the Scottish Parliament.  Participants also attended several lectures on the UK’s role in global politics.

International travel opportunities like this — as well as a trip to Brazil for all first-year PEGS students — help students develop a global context for the academic and leadership skills they learn as a part of the PEGS program.

Learn more about the PEGS Program

— Patrick Harbin


Can virtual reality improve juvenile justice reporting?

Name of Publication: 
Columbia Journalism Review
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By Susannah Nesmith, CJR

APRIL 29, 2015



Students at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta are set to embark on a fascinating experiment in using virtual reality technology to bring to life the stories of children caught in the juvenile justice system.

The project, which recently received a $35,000 grant from the Online News Association’s $1M Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, aims to create mini-documentaries that give voice to children who are often marginalized in traditional coverage of juvenile justice issues by the confidentiality that is designed to protect them. Protecting confidentiality in, say, a typical broadcast story—a child is heard as a disembodied robot voice or seen as a pair of hands or a silhouette—can dilute the story’s impact.

Kennesaw State, which runs the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, has experience doing these kinds of stories—and even their best work shows the limitations confidentiality can pose. In a heartbreaking piecepublished in their magazine, the subject of the story, a violent 13-year-old who was locked up in a juvenile facility and wasn’t getting the psychiatric treatment his mother believed he needed, is identified only by a pseudonym and his experiences are explained by his mother.

The folks at Kennesaw State see virtual reality technology as a way to create compelling documentary-style films that let the children tell their own stories while still protecting their identity. In the project’s own words: “As life-like avatars, they will walk and talk audiences through their story of being in detention, of being arrested, of being homeless, and of being lost in the system.” ...

20 Years and Growing

Karen Boze explains the two-way powered rickshaw her project team designed

Expansion plans unveiled at milestone anniversary of undergraduate scholars symposium

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 21, 2015) --  It is a banner year for Kennesaw State’s Symposium of Scholars and Undergraduate Research.  On April 16, the annual event celebrated its 20th year of recognizing excellence in student scholarship and creative activity. It’s also the year that will launch efforts to increase visibility, participation, communication and student engagement in research. 

Kennesaw Scholar from Nigeria: Elections Were Fair, Electrifying and Historic

Name of Publication: 
Global Atlanta
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By Trevor William/April 1, 2015

NigeriaAfrica’s most populous country and a democracy of more than 170 million people, was scheduled to go to the polls in February, but presidential and parliamentary elections were postponed to late March due to the threat of violence by Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgency that has taken hold in the north. 

Some worried that the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, was simply manipulating the situation to rally his electoral troops in light of what looked to be a formidable challenge from former military man Muhammadu Buhari, the general who famously ruled as a dictator for a few years after a coup d’etat in the early 1980s. 

For Kennesaw State University’s Akanmu Adebayo, a Nigeria native and director of the university’s Center for Conflict Management, this shift did more than force a change in travel plans. It added another wrinkle in his duties as an official observer in an election that turned out to be as electrifying as it was historic. 

After the voting was extended from Saturday to Sunday, March 29, in some polling units, it became clear that Mr. Buhari, 72, had unseated Mr. Jonathan, the first time a challenger had snatched the presidency from an incumbent. He also did it handily: With the final precincts reporting, Mr. Buhari had topped Mr. Jonathan by a margin of 2.5 million votes.

The demand for change in a country racked by corruption, falling oil prices and Boko Haram showed Dr. Adebayo that this could be the beginning of a new moment in Nigerian — and African — democracy, despite the looming threat of violence. 

Based on his observations, Dr. Adebayo concluded that that elections were fair and valid, though he saw a lot of room for improvement. In rural areas with limited electricity, light from officials’ mobile phones was used to count votes, a small number of newly introduced card readers faced problems and the 1 million people employed by the election watchdog had no chance to vote themselves, according to his preliminary report. Global Atlanta caught up with Dr. Adebayo by email in Ibadan, Nigeria. The interview follows: 

(Click here to read full interview)

Interdisciplinary forums put spotlight on women, gender equity

AADS annual conference, Gender and Women's Studies series highlight issues during Women’s History Month

KENNESAW, Ga., (March 26,2015) -- Two forums presented by programs within the Interdisciplinary Studies Department made issues of women and gender equity a focus during the March 2015 Women’s History Month.

The seventh annual African and African Diaspora (AADS) Student Research and Engagement Conference on March 21 included three panels on the image of black women in contemporary media and a plenary forum on women’s roles in liberation movements in Angola and Tanzania. That was followed on March 23-25 by a collaborative series organized by Gender and Women's Studies,  which featured a focus on feminism and the impact on men and masculinity, gender equity and the campus environment. 

Jesse Benjamin, coordinator of the African and African Diaspora Studies program, associate professor of sociology and AADS conference organizer, said the focus on women emerged in an “organic fashion,” as the conference planning developed. “We realized that we had exciting student research panels on Black Women in the Media set to run right before and after the plenary, and these were followed by a panel of experts from Atlanta on issues of Black Women in the Media.”

A concern for gender and the campus climate among multiple constituents across the university prompted the collaboration that brought noted sociologist Michael Kimmel, author of “Angry White Men,” for a lecture and a series of frank discussions among students, faculty and administrators. 

“Kimmel is a preeminent scholar of gender and has impacted work across the humanities and social sciences, so you can understand his wide appeal,” said Stacy Keltner, coordinator of Gender and Women’s Studies and associate professor of philosophy. “We organized the discussions in order to deepen our understanding of his work and its significance for us and college campuses more generally.”

A broad coalition of Kennesaw State departments and student organizations joined Gender and Women’s Studies in sponsoring the series. They included the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and its departments of Interdisciplinary Studies, Communication, Psychology, Sociology and Geography and Anthropology; the Coles College of Business and its Department of Management and Entrepreneurship; Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; Women’s Leadership Center; Zuckerman Museum of Art; Anti-Assimilationist Non-Normative Students of KSU; hu-MAN Up; Kennesaw Pride Alliance; and YESbody!

AADS Conference

Student panel examining images of black women in contemporary TV and films included, from left, Jalessah Jackson, moederator Camille Kleidysz, Ashley MacFarland and Anna Tussey.

As it has in previous years, the AADS conference presented a full day of concurrent panels led by students, faculty and other scholars and community activists; noteworthy plenary speakers; a world-renowned keynote speaker; awards presentations and catered cuisine from the diaspora, topped off by a hip-hop social. 

Even though that winning formula that has proven its efficacy for six years, the move to include an emphasis on women added another dimension, attracting some 500 students and scholars from across disciplines throughout the day. 

A student-led panel titled “Media Representation of Black Womanhood” took on the stereotypical image of the “strong black woman” embodied by characters in popular TV series and films, including Olivia in ABC’s Scandal; Analese in ABC’s How to get Away with Murder; Cookie in Fox’s explosive Empire; and the varied roles actor Viola Davis plays in the movies Doubt and The Help.

In the student panel, “Media Representation of Black Womanhood,” AADS major Jalessah Jackson moderated, and Masters in American Studies Program students, Camille Kleidysz, Ashley MacFarland and Anna Tussey, presented papers. Their formal presentations prompted a myriad of viewpoints. Among them: that contemporary images present the black woman as more multi-dimensional than earlier images; that the image of the black woman portrayed in TV shows are becoming more stereotypical as the shows become more popular; though Empire’s Cookie character breaks the mold, the reigning image of the strong black woman on TV is as professional and exceptional; and that the images today are both beneficial and problematic.

“Black women are so starved for portrayals of themselves that they’re willing to accept C-grade images [like Cookie, Olivia and Analese],” said Griselda Thomas, professor of English and Women Studies, who co-teaches a special topics course on the “Strong Black Woman.”

A second similar panel invited the three earlier presenters to join in roundtable discussion with two additional colleagues in the Masters in American Studies Program, Tanya Brinkley and Kristen Walker. The discussion was led by Tiana Ferrell, granddaughter of famed abolitionist journalist Ida B. Wells, and publisher of Atlanta Free Speech.

Rounding out the trilogy of panels dealing with the portrayal of black women in media was a panel of professionals and activists looking at the issue from a black feminist perspective. Participants included Adrian Brown, a community activist, as moderator; Ferrell; Kimberly Fletcher, president of Achievers Marketing & Management; Ifetayo Ojelade, a licensed psychologist and executive director of A Healing Paradigm.

Presenters challenged the pervasive projection of black women as “hypersexualized,” and questioned whether entertainers like Beyoncé and Nikki Minaj, who view themselves as feminist, can rightly claim they are. 

“Black women are not in control of how their sexuality is portrayed,” said Fletcher.  “You have to consider who is approving these scripts; it’s still predominantly white males.”

Psychologist Ojelade expressed concern for the detrimental effects of a lack of portrayals of black women whose greatness have nothing to do with their sexuality. She shared images of goddesses in traditional African religion who are revered because of their qualities of virtue, and mentioned powerful women like [Susan Estrich], the first African-American woman to head the Harvard Law Review.

“Why is it that these types of women are not as popular as [the character Olivia] on Scandal?” she asked, suggesting a psychological impact for black women regarding the types of characters they are embracing. “If you’re used to drama, you’ll try to find it.”

The conference plenary forum shifted the focus on women to the historic roles of women in liberation struggles in the African nations of Angola and Tanzania. The forum featured talks by Jesus “Chucho” Garcia, Venezuelan Consul General in New Orleans, and Fatma Alloo, founder of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association. 

“When the history of Africa, the Atlantic slave trade and the resistance to that crime against humanity is told, you hear praise for the resistance of African leaders, but you don’t hear about women in the resistance,” Garcia said through his interpreter, Jose Pérez. “The subject [of resistance] has been covered by a male-dominated and racist history.”

Garcia relayed the contributions of women throughout the African diaspora who have been pivotal in the fight against slavery and oppression. He cited Angola’s Nzinga Mbandi and Kirupa Vita; Harriet Tubman in the U.S.; Cecile Fatiman in Haiti and Cuba’s Commander Inga as examples of women freedom fighters. 

That theme was repeated in a talk by Fatma Alloo, founder of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association, who urged women to become involved in telling women’s stories.

“The sons of Africa are very well documented, not its daughters,” Alloo said. “In all the stories of South Africa’s upheaval and transformation, how many stories have you read of [first wife of famed former South African President Nelson Mandela] Winnie Mandela’s struggle and perspective? We don’t know the names of many important organizations created by women. ... Don’t you think we have a lot of homework to do?”    

Other conference sessions focused on youth movements in Africa, the Black and Latino communities’ relationship with police, student activism and research in African art history. A conference highlight, the Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and Ida B. Wells Memoral Lecture, featured as keynote speaker Kenyan educator, author and activist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, a distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, and former finalist for the Nobel Prize in literature.


GWS collaborative series on issues of women, men and gender equity

Micharl Kimmel, sociologist and author of "Angry White Men" 

A series of discussions organized by Gender and Women Studies focused on gender equality and how feminism has impacted men and women. The three-part series featured a lecture by noted sociologist Michael Kimmel, author of “Angry White Men.” A book discussion preceded the lecture, and a roundtable discussion followed it. More than 200 students and faculty from various disciplines participated in the series.

Kimmel’s ideas were the focal point for discussions, including his premise that men have benefitted from feminism as much as women. The topic of his lecture — “Mars, Venus or Planet Earth: Men and Women on Campus in a New Millennium” — reflects a prevailing view that “men and women are so different, they may as well be from different planets.” 

“By every measurable trait of attitude and behavior, men and women are more similar than different,” said Kimmel, director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, where he is distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies.

As part of his research, Kimmel said he has been listening intently to what men say they want and finding that, as a result of the way women’s lives have changed over the past 50 years, men would be well served to become allies with women to protect gains women have scored. However, he said men’s concepts of masculinity prevent them from seeing that they are better off as a result of the feminist movement.

Among the feminist-inspired changes Kimmel noted are a higher level of visibility for gender, to the point it is a study at most colleges; the growth of women in the workforce to about 50 percent in the U.S.; a new emphasis on work/family/life balance, with women being unwilling to chose; and the expression of sexual freedom and enjoyment.

“Things have changed so dramatically for men, Kimmel said. “There are no longer the all-male schools, military or jobs their dad’s went to.”

What has not changed, however, are men’s ideas of what masculinity is, Kimmel explained. He described the tension between men’s ideas of manhood and masculinity.

“If you ask a man what is a good man, you’re likely to hear words like ‘honorable, good provider, protector.’ But are those the same traits that show up for you when you’re told to ‘man up’ or ‘be a real man?’”

He said masculinity or being a “real man” more often is equated with such things as “not reflecting any “sissy stuff,” being a big wheel in terms of the size of your wealth or power; being a sturdy oak, a rock — reliable in times of crisis, and living life on the edge or taking great risks. Kimmel said masculinity becomes a “relentless test” and the fear of not manning up becomes an  “animating reality.”

While gender studies have given more visibility to gender, Kimmel concedes that most men don’t think gender is important because of a sense of privilege, which negates equality, and especially equity.   

“Privilege is invisible to those who have it,” said Kimmel, recalling a TV talk show where a white men alleged reverse discrimination because a black woman had stolen “his” job, not “the” job. 

In their push for work/life balance, women have not only sought equality, Kimmel said, but equity — a sense of fairness — especially in marriages, when it comes to such things as property ownership, house work and child care.

“Studies have shown that where there is equity in these relationships, kids do better in school; the kids, women and men are happier and healthier; and men and women have more sex and enjoy it more. And what man wouldn’t want that?”

Concluding, Kimmel noted that gender issues, and especially issues of masculinity, play a critical role in discussions about sex on campus, the rise of HIV/AIDS and sexual assaults, and the conditions that will help women feel safe in their relationships. “In every arena we talk about, the very things women have said will make their lives better will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.”

— Sabbaye McGriff

Photos by Anthony Stalcup and Daid Caselli


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