Augsburg News

News Archives - 2009

Augsburg scholars at the Capitol

FEBRUARY 23, 2009

Picture of Zach Sommers with Senator JohnsonLast week three Augsburg scholars were joined by students from several of Minnesota's private colleges and universities for Private Colleges Scholars at the Capitol day. Jessica Love, Jenna Mead, and Zach Sommer—all McNair Scholars—presented posters summarizing their research to legislators and visitors to the Capitol.

Jessica Love, a senior communication studies major, conducted research on silence as a communication tool within situations of domestic abuse. Exploring stories of abusive relationships through muted group theory, feminist theory, and social penetration theory, she found that both victims and abusers use silence to communicate but do so differently—victims as a defense mechanism and abusers as a tactic.

Senior Jenna Mead, a sociology major, studied media portrayal of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She analyzed reporting of the incident in 10 newspapers over a 10-week timeframe. She examined framing factors such as word choice, first descriptor of events, inclusion of prominent figures, and first quotation. Mead found that reporters opted out of attributing individual responsibility but blamed the prison system.

Zach Sommer, a junior sociology and psychology major, researched technology mediated interaction to test the theory that interaction rituals cannot be created without bodily presence. Using the Second Life 3D virtual world, Sommer [above with Dist. 49 Senator Debbie Johnson] evaluated interactions of players around the world. He observed occurrence of many interaction rituals through text-based cues which residents used to convey emotion.

The Private Colleges Scholars at the Capitol session, which is sponsored by the Minnesota Private College Council, gives undergraduate researchers an opportunity to share their scholarly and creative work with Minnesota legislatures and the Governor. Through conversations with the students, legislators understand the important role that research plays in students' education and professional development.

"Understanding Silence as a Communication Tool within the Framework of Domestic Abuse"
Jessica Love
Faculty Mentor: David Lapakko

"Framing Fault: Media Portrayal of the Responsibility for Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal"
Jenna Mead
Faculty Advisor: Diane Pike

"Interaction Rituals in Second Life"
Zachary L. Sommer
Faculty Advisor: James Vela-McConnell

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