• Imperial Conversion: When Empire Co-opts Religion

      Sharp, Jordan Robert
      Many religions have been significantly changed by the conversion of an empire to that religion, yet imperial conversion has received little attention within religious studies. Consequently, the goal of this study is to better understand imperial conversion by investigating (1) why empires convert, (2) what makes conversion possible, and (3) how the empire enacts conversion. To do so, this study compares three imperial conversions representing different religions, eras, and cultures: Ashoka’s Buddhist conversion of the Maurya Empire, the Christian conversion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, and Gao Zu’s role in the rise of Daoism in China’s Tang Dynasty. Methodologically, the study is interdisciplinary. First, a historical overview of each conversion explores what factors precipitated conversion as well as how the conversion benefited the empire. Next, sociology is applied to understand what made the conversions possible. Using Emile Durkheim’s concept of the sacred totem and Max Weber’s concept of theodicy, the study examines how the empire promoted pro-imperial values by co-opting symbols that appealed to society’s values concerning sacredness and morality. Finally, cultural anthropologist Talal Asad’s work on power within religion offers a way to understand how the empires enacted the conversion; imperial conversion required a negotiation of power between political and religious authorities. One of the central findings is that imperial conversion is primarily politically motivated, serving a specific goal of the empire. Additionally, the conversion itself, though historically significant, is not as radical as it may seem. Rather than a drastic change in religious devotion, imperial conversion represents a shift: the empire alters policy to better reflect the current values of society and/or to steer societal values in a slightly different direction. Further, imperial conversion is a two-way exchange, meaning that imperial conversion changes the religion as much as, if not more so, as the empire. In addition to the insights about imperial conversion, the study presents new questions about how religion is studied and defined. The concluding section offers recommendations for future study on the boundaries of what constitutes religion, how to describe and better understand religious change, and the interaction between religion and politics.
    • Implications Of A Social Media Course For Adolescent Social Media Usage / By Nneka A. Johnson.

      Johnson, Nneka A.
      The use of social media is becoming more pervasive in our society. Adolescents are suffering dire consequences as a result of their social media postings and many feel that schools are not adequately preparing youth to navigate within this new participatory culture paradigm. The purpose of this study was to acquire an awareness of how a planned curriculum around teaching high school seniors about the various implications of social media changed their social media usage. The study was rooted in Bandura’s social learning theory but more specifically observational and vicarious learning in conjunction with the concept of vicarious punishment. The research design for this qualitative inquiry was grounded in the case study tradition. Four participants were selected for this study, who represented diverse perspectives. The data consisted of three interviews, social media activity, and archival reflective essays from the course. After the data analysis, it was deduced that the students changed their social media behavior as a result of what was learned by observation in the course in conjunction
    • Implicit Bias As A Contributing Factor To Disproportionality Of African Americans In Special Education: The Promise Of A Bias Literacy Intervention

      Whatley, Jillian Katri
      With the extensive research on disproportionality of African Americans in special education, the researcher explored implicit bias as a contributing factor. The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent Bias Literacy Intervention impacts pre- and posttest results of the Teacher Expectations Scale and Personal Objectivity Scale, thus increasing personal awareness of teacher implicit bias towards African American students and the awareness of the how implicit bias potentially influences teacher decisions to refer African American students to special education. The results indicated that the mean comparison of the pre- and posttest of the Teacher Expectations Scale and Personal Objectivity Scale suggest that teachers’ expectations of the last student referred to special education increased and the objectivity mean increased. The results also suggest that the interactive effect of using the IAT-Race as a conscious-raising tool and the Bias Literacy Workshop as a habit-breaking intervention to address implicit bias promoted a sense of awareness among participants regarding their personal bias against African Americans, while providing the participants with strategies to reduce implicit bias. Therefore, the evidence is suggestive and promising in that the IAT-Race and the Bias Literacy Workshop provide baseline data suggesting these methods can reduce implicit bias, thereby promoting awareness of teachers and administrators’ bias and the impact of their personal bias on the referral of African Americans to special education, resulting in disproportionality. Based on the mixed results, the researcher assumes that changes occurred by exposing participants to the Bias Literacy Intervention and the Implicit Associations Test. However, the specifics or the degree to which exposure to the intervention had on participants is unknown.
    • In Their Own Words: Acknowledging Heritage Literacies and Languages with College-Bound English Language Learners in Advanced English Language Arts Classrooms

      Curl, Jennifer Eileen; Tift College of Education
      This study sought to examine how the use of heritage literacies and languages by college-bound ELLs in advanced English classes can help ELLs meet course expectations and inform attitudes towards future ELA courses. Three adult professionals, a teacher, a pharmacist, and a chemical engineer, were purposefully sampled to share their lived experiences and reflections as ELLs in advanced English classes as high school students. The research questions were: (1) What do the narratives of college-bound English Language Learners enrolled in an advanced English course reveal about their use of heritage languages and Literacies? and (2) How do the narratives of college-bound English Language Learners enrolled in advanced English courses inform culturally responsive education? Data were collected through one-on-one interviews between the researcher and individual participants through recorded Zoom sessions, composition artifacts chosen by the participants, and a focus group including all three participants and the researcher. Data were analyzed through multi-level coding (Saldaña, 2016) employing holistic and in vivo coding for level one, pattern coding for level two, and cross-case analysis and narrative coding for level three. Results suggest that disconnections exist between ELLs and ESOL support, cultural use of language, and teacher expectations. Further results indicate microaggressions experienced by ELLs in advanced English classrooms, as well as frustration and confusion, related to advanced English teachers’ instructional practices. Finally, participants experienced disconnections resulting from myths and misconceptions about ELLs in advanced English classrooms. Recommendations for future studies include a focus on the intersection between race and culture, language, and literacy practices among ELLs and how schools can create bridges between ESOL and advanced course pathways.
    • Inclusion, Instruction, And Education Of Others: A Phenomenological Study Of Siblings With And Without Disabilities And Their Teachers

      Durbin, Elizabeth Williams
      ABSTRACT ELIZABETH WILLIAMS DURBIN INCLUSION, INSTRUCTION, AND EDUCATION OF OTHERS: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF SIBLINGS WITH AND WITHOUT DISABILITIES AND THEIR TEACHERS Under the direction of SHERAH BETTS CARR, Ph.D. Due to the increased push for inclusion in the United States, siblings with and without disabilities have been attending the same public schools. They share many of the same experiences. This study aimed to understand how the shared school experiences affected siblings and the teachers who work with these siblings. Through a phenomenological study design, the researcher conducted interviews with sibling groups comprised of siblings with disabilities and siblings without disabilities, general education teachers, and special education teachers to reveal the lived experiences of sibling groups and their effect on teacher involvement and instruction. Three themes emerged from the data: valuing differences, responsibilities, and growth. The findings indicated that siblings without disabilities hold a unique position to influence and educate their peers about individuals with disabilities. Teachers also hold a unique position to create lessons and opportunities for siblings without disabilities that promote sharing their thoughts of, and experiences with, individuals with disabilities. This, in turn, influences the way other people interact with individuals with disabilities. These findings, consistent with current research in the area of school perception of disabilities, implicate the need for further study in the area of teachers and siblings without disabilities working together to create more and better opportunities for inclusion of people with disabilities.
    • Increasing The Understanding Of Grief And Addressing The Needs Of The Grieving In Ministry

      Mitchell, Jeremy Brad
      Two of my worlds began to collide and I realized potentially unmet needs existed in the church. I have served as an ordained pastor in this community for the past fifteen years. Through the funeral home, I serve as grief counselor. While assisting families in the latter capacity, it became apparent that many churches in the community did not provide care for the grieving beyond the funeral. With this information, this project was created. To reach the greatest number of people at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, the project began with a four-week sermon series. The series was designed to expose the congregation to the concepts of grief, how grief was expressed in the Bible, and the church’s responsibility to the grieving. During the series, on each Wednesday night following the Sunday morning sermon, the congregation was invited to ask questions or request further clarification of the concepts presented in the sermon. This also allowed me to provide additional information about the scripture. At the conclusion of the series, they were given the opportunity to volunteer and take part in a six-week focus group. The group would explore the topics further as well as identify any needs that may exist in Trinity’s approach to the grieving. The focus group met for six consecutive Sunday afternoons. They spent two weeks exploring the topics further. The following two weeks enabled participants to tell their story about grief and the support they did or did not receive. The final two weeks were spent uncovering ways that Trinity could provide additional support to the grieving. During this final two weeks, the group came up with two solid conclusions. Trinity could provide a monthly grief support group and could enhance the grief support through an existing committee at the church. There are other solutions that can be implemented in the coming years. The goal of the ministry is to care for the grieving in the church and then to reach those that are grieving in the community. There will be continued education in the church and additional opportunities to serve as a result of this project.
    • Institutional Factors that Support and Impede Black Female Undergraduates at Predominantly White Institutions

      Pickens, Wanda V; Tift College of Education
      Under the direction of Dr. Olivia Boggs, Ed.D. The study addressed the persistently deficient baccalaureate degree attainment of African American females, documented by a graduation rate of 45%, compared to a national average of 65% for all women. Using phenomenological methodology, the study explored the academic, social, physical, emotional, psychological, and financial experiences of 11 Black female college alumnae who successfully completed their bachelor’s degrees at a [Predominantly White Institution (PWI)]. The depth of the inquiry allowed participants to retrospectively recall and ascribe meaning to their academic and non-academic undergraduate experiences. Each of the subjects provided insights into barriers and hindrances encountered during their undergraduate matriculation. Further, participants described experiences that facilitated, strengthened, and empowered their degree pursuits. Using theories of Black feminist thought along with a second lens of intersectionality, the study was guided by the following research question: What are the shared experiences of Black female undergraduates at predominantly white institutions that defined their lived experiences, the expectations placed upon them, and how they maneuvered through their educational journey? Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed utilizing a six-phase approach to thematic analysis. Findings revealed four themes: Non-Relatability and Non-Affirmation, Increased Self-Awareness Within PWI Spaces, Lack of Mentorship, and Retention Team. Findings further illustrated positive and negative influences of the participants’ academic, cultural, and social lived experiences. Recommendations were discussed that encompassed specific initiatives. The first initiative promoted the development of an empathetic approach design of support services specifically for Black female undergraduates. The second initiative advocated for equipping faculty and staff members who interface with Black female students regularly with the proper training they need to understand and embrace the African American culture. The third initiative involved utilizing dialogue and other tools to prevent exclusionary behaviors, policies, and stifling structures of power that hinder progress of retaining marginalized student populations. These initiatives aimed to guide university administration, faculty and staff who are committed to a transformative process to increase graduation rates for Black females matriculating at PWIs.
    • Intercollegiate Athletic Department Staff Members’ Lived Experiences with Policy Implementation for Trans Student Athletes

      Hardin, Brittney; Tift College of Education
      The number of trans students choosing to participate in intercollegiate sports is increasing. However, most NCAA members across its three divisions remain unsure of how to implement inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics. While current research highlights inclusive policies for trans students in the academic sector of institutions of higher education, little to no research exists that addresses how leaders in athletic departments systematically construct, implement, educate, and embed inclusive policies for trans student athletes in the athletic sector. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to gain a greater understanding and awareness of how leaders in intercollegiate athletics entrench themselves in developing and enacting inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics at their respective institutions. Utilizing Kotter’s (1995) eight-step model of leading change as the theoretical framework, this qualitative research emphasized the voiced experiences of 10 participants who held a range of position titles and experience within selective NCAA divisions of intercollegiate athletics in various regions of the United States. Data collection for this study consisted of 10 semi-structured interviews and the collection of pertinent web-based documents or documents shared by participants. Data analysis focused on an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach to better understand participants’ personal and social experiences with creating and implementing inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics at their respective institutions. Data analysis led to the finding that participants’ campus environment and continuous application of identified actionable steps were influential in the process of creating, implementing, and embedding their respective inclusive policies for trans student athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics. The experiences of the participants were found to be transferrable to institutions seeking to develop inclusive policies for trans student athletes. However, further research should explore diverse perspectives, rather than single member experiences, from campus committees who are responsible for enacting such inclusive policies. Additionally, further research should explore the experiences of trans student athletes directly affected by these inclusive policies.
    • Intermolecular Complementation Between Porf54 Mutant Monomers As A Mechanism To Study Varicella-zoster Portal Domains / By Ellie Marie Kornfeind

      Kornfeind, Ellie Marie
      There are nine human herpes viruses ubiquitous in nature and most of our adult population harbors multiple latent species (18). One of these is varicella zoster virus (VZV), an alphaherpesvirus responsible for chicken pox in children (varicella) or shingles (zoster) in elderly or immune compromised hosts (25). Though nucleoside analogs and a live-attenuated vaccine are currently available therapy against VZV, challenges include low bioavailability, toxicity and risk of viral resistance (31). Herpesviruses, along with other double stranded DNA viruses, replicate by packaging long concatamers of viral DNA through a “portal�? protein into preformed procapsids in a process called encapsidation (11). The VZV portal protein is pORF54, an 87-kDa monomer that oligomerizes to into a dodecameric ring (40). Alternate methods of combating infection could include blocking viral replication at the encapsidation step by inhibiting portal formation. Mutations in VZV portal monomers were generated by inserting 5 amino acids randomly into ORF54, the gene coding for portal protein. A library of 55 different mutants with varying insertion sites were obtained and categorized by the suspected portal domain affected (clip, wing, crown, or tunnel-loop). pORF54 monomer mutants were evaluated through replication kinetics, exposure to thiourea compounds and intermolecular interactions between mutant monomers. The majority of the 55 mutant monomers were randomly generated in either wing or crown domains of portal monomers. Two mutants with amino acid insertions in the clip and stem domains (AA 305 and AA353 respectively) showed strong resistance to thiourea compound II suggesting the importance of that region for compound binding. Finally, monomeric mutants that failed to assemble into successful portal alone were able to replicate upon co-infection with different mutants. These data provide evidence that modifications to individual portal subunits can result in varying success of portal formation, drug resistance or susceptibility and ultimately viral replication.