• Barriers to graduation: an examination of first-generation college students

      Smith, Sarah M. (2012-08)
      The college experience of first- generation college students is unique in comparison to their peers. Many students do not have the support from their family and require help in the navigation of college life. Student Support Services, a federally funded TRIO program helps students successfully graduate with a bachelor's degree. Qualitative interviews were conducted on ten undergraduate students at UAF who were labeled as first-generation college students. All ten students were active participants in Student Support Services at the University of Alaska Fairbanks during the time of the interview. A thematic analysis produced six emergent themes. It was found that students utilized communicative strategies based on Orbe's co-cultural communication theory. First-generation college students, a non-dominant part of society, tried to negotiate through the University system, the dominant section of society. Through this negotiation, a co-cultural group was formed.
    • 'It's a magnifying glass': the communication of power in a remote field station

      McDermott, Victoria; May, Amy; Taylor, Karen; Richey, Jean (2019-05)
      Remote field stations play a critical role in advancing our understanding of the world and how humans cause environmental change. Remote field stations are sentinels of Earth's climate, environment, and biodiversity that provide scientists with the infrastructure to collect data in inaccessible areas of the globe. These research stations are considered isolated, confined and extreme (ICE) environments which provide people with unique opportunities and intensely stressful potentially life-threatening situations to overcome. Traditionally, remote field stations have been considered harassment hell for men and women, alike. There is little research on the impact of remote field stations on communication and factors that influence power communication within remote field stations. In the present study, the researcher traveled 10 hours north of Fairbanks, Alaska to Toolik Field Station in the Brooks Range of the Alaskan Mountains. The researcher interviewed 20 participants, 15 males and 5 females, willing to talk about their experiences in remote field stations and especially their experiences at Toolik. Using theories of power construction, standpoint theory, and contrapower harassment this study sought to understand how remote field stations impact communication dynamics and the influence of gender on communication within a remote field station. Findings in the present study suggest that gender is a crucial factor that impacts power dynamics in remote field station. Through the data collected in this study, three areas of opportunity were identified for overall camp improvement, including group cohesion, reintegration coping strategies and overcoming gender barriers.
    • Networks of change: extending Alaska-based communication networks to meet the challenges of the anthropocene

      Hum, Richard E.; Taylor, Karen; Chapin, F. Stuart, III; Koskey, Michael; Brower, Pearl Kiyawn Nageak; Carlson, Cameron (2017-08)
      The Anthropocene is a contested term. As I conceptualize it throughout this dissertation, the Anthropocene is defined by an increased coupling of social and environmental systems at the global scale such that the by-products of human processes dominate the global stratigraphic record. Additionally, I connect the term to a worldview that sees this increased coupling as an existential threat to humanity's ability to sustain life on the planet. Awareness that the planet-wide scale of this coupling is fundamentally a new element in earth history is implicit in both understandings. How individuals and communities are impacted by this change varies greatly depending on a host of locally specific cross-scale factors. The range of scales (physical and social) that must be negotiated to manage these impacts places novel demands on the communication networks that shape human agency. Concern for how these demands are being met, and whose interests are being served in doing so, are the primary motivation for my research. My work is grounded in the communication-oriented theoretical traditions of media ecology and the more recent social-ecological system conceptualizations promoted in the study of resilience. I combine these ideas through a mixed methodology of digital ethnography and social network analysis to explore the communication dynamics of four Alaska-based social-ecological systems. The first two examples capture communication networks that formed in response to singular, rapid change environmental events (a coastal storm and river flood). The latter two map communication networks that have formed in response to more diffuse, slower acting environmental changes (a regional webinar series and an international arctic change conference). In each example, individuals or organizations enter and exit the mapped network(s) as they engage in the issue and specific communication channel being observed. Under these parameters a cyclic pattern of network expansion and contraction is identified. Expansion events are heavily influenced by established relationships retained during previous contraction periods. Many organizational outreach efforts are focused on triggering and participating in expansion events, however my observations highlight the role of legacy networks in system change. I suggest that for organizations interested in fostering sustainable socialecological relationships in the Anthropocene, strategic intervention may best be accomplished through careful consideration of how communicative relationships are maintained immediately following and in between expansion events. In the final sections of my dissertation I present a process template to support organizations interested in doing so. I include a complete set of learning activities to facilitate organizational use as well as examples of how the Alaska Native Knowledge Network is currently applying the process to meet their unique organizational needs.
    • Science for Alaska: place for curious learners

      Campbell, Diana L.; Taylor, Karen; Bhatt, Uma; Richey, Jean (2017-08)
      For over 25 years, Alaskans have been attending Science for Alaska Lecture Series, held during the coldest part of an Alaskan winter. The hour-long evening lectures would see from around 100 to almost 300 people attend each event. The scientific literature is quiet in regard to audience preferences in regard to the recieving end of science communication. This qualitative study looked at the audience of a science lecture series: who are they, why do they come and what do they do with the information. In nine taped audio interviews, the research participants described themselves as smart, curious lifelong learners who felt a sense of place to the Arctic for its practical and esoteric values. Attending the events constructed their social identity that they felt important to share with children. The findings suggest that addressing the audience's sense of place and mirroring their view as smart, curious people would be an effective avenue to communicate science.
    • The state of climate change in AK: agency and networking of the governmental kind

      O'Neall, Mindy L.; DeCaro, Peter; Taylor, Karen; Hirsch, Alex; Dodge, Kathryn (2017)
      Alaska coastal villages are faced with relocating their communities' due to erosion, flooding, permafrost thaw and other slow-moving natural hazards that risk their safety. State and federal efforts to relocate, specifically, indigenous communities are thwarted by insufficient policy and restrictive agency missions, and coordination of actors, authority, responsibility, accountability, access and funding is lacking between levels of government, further complicating action. Networks are created to view mission statements from tribal, state, and federal agencies, nonprofits and private industry were coded to analyze coordination between key actors involved in climate governance and planned relocation. State and federal climate and disaster response policies are reviewed to identify areas to strengthen climate governance that is inclusive of indigenous communities' rights, culture, traditions and livelihoods.
    • Tanana Valley State Fair crisis public relations plan project

      Hoogestraat, Ron (2018)
      This project proposal outlines the necessity and importance of emergency public relations during a crisis situation for the Tanana Valley State Fair. It articulates what an organization can expect when it is not prepared to address communications during a crisis situation. This project proposal is a recommendation for management of the Tanana Valley State Fair for an effective Public Relations Crisis Communication Plan, as well as a personnel training program to address the current lack of a formal plan. The project also presents a literature review on the issue of crisis public relations and its application to the Tanana Valley State Fair. In addition, it describes the methodology employed in the development of the Public Relations Crisis Communication Plan. The training progam and its supporting materials for the training sessions, along with a media relations plan, have been developed based on the research discovered in public relations crisis communication. The construction of the training program is born by studies on prepatory data and its effects on human preformance during stressful situations. As a result of this research, the proposed project on a Public Relations Crisis Communication Plan and training program have been developed for the Tanana Valley State Fair.