Trends and Issues in Higher Ed

October 11, 2016

Social and Economic Equity

Social and economic inequity has lasting effects on societies and the health of populations. UW scholars from a wide range of disciplines are addressing equity in innovative ways. Solutions range from addressing income inequality to education quality, poverty to criminal justice reform, and many other equity issues that directly and indirectly affect human health and well-being.

Minimum Wage Study examines the impact of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage | Evans School of Public Policy & Governance and Social Work

Since Seattle passed legislation providing for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the nation has been watching and waiting to see the effects on the local economy and quality of life. Tracking these effects and more is the Minimum Wage Study, a five-year research effort led by investigators from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance with the School of Social Work.

The team seeks to answer such questions as, does a higher minimum wage improve quality of life measures, including health, nutrition, and family daily life? As more cities anticipate hikes in their minimum wage, this research will inform future decisions about the effects on workers, their families, employers, and the community.

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Innovative, low cost NIFTY™ Cup seeks to save millions of lives | Dentistry

Each year, there are millions of babies in developing countries born prematurely or with oral clefts who struggle to breast feed. These babies are often at high risk for malnourishment, infection, and often death. Thanks to Christy McKinney, a clinical assistant professor of oral health sciences, a new feeding aid is now readying for widespread distribution across Africa.

In partnership with PATH and Seattle Children’s, McKinney developed the NIFTY™ cup (Neonatal Intuitive Feeding TechnologY), a low-cost silicone cup with a small reservoir and spout that allows mothers to easily and safely feed these vulnerable newborns. This innovative intervention has the potential to solve a major global challenge, which could save millions of lives.

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States with punitive justice systems have higher rates of foster care, study finds | Sociology

Why do some states place more kids into foster care than others? A new study connects the hidden dots between a state’s approaches to social problems and their rate of foster care. Author Frank Edwards is a UW doctoral student in sociology who found that states with more punitive criminal justice systems remove children from their homes far more frequently than states with more generous welfare programs. This means that two states with similar rates of child abuse and neglect could have very different rates of foster care entry, significantly impacting the futures of already vulnerable children.

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Skies Over Seattle: Theater piece drawn from student experiences volunteering for U District social service entities | Drama

What does it mean to be homeless in the U-District? Drama students created “Skies Over Seattle,” original theater pieces inspired by the intersection of volunteerism and artistic creation in pursuit of understanding that question. Graduate students in acting, design and directing, as well as several undergraduates, volunteered for three community organizations that serve the homeless around the UW’s Seattle campus.

Over the course of a year, their lessons learned and questions asked inspired the students to write, design and perform original pieces that challenge assumptions about the communities that share the space beneath one sky. “We want the community to know that we’re not giving them a voice — they already have a voice,” says AJ Friday, a student in the Professional Actor Training Program.

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New UW program aims to foster better education for Native learners | Education

Education is a key component of lifelong health, yet the underrepresentation of Native American teachers across the United States often negatively impacts young Native students. The new Native Education Certificate seeks to address that challenge by providing a knowledge base for non-Native teachers to create a culturally relevant curriculum for Native students. Mixing online learning and community projects, the 10-unit program is designed to reduce the disconnect between non-Native teachers and Native children, making public schools more inclusive.

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Map-a-thon collaboration helps sidewalks be accessible | TCAT and DSSG

Inadequate sidewalks and navigational infrastructure can be a nuisance to anyone, but for people with mobility limitations or low vision, these conditions can not only feel insurmountable, but become hazardous. The Taskar Center for Accessible Technology and the OpenSidewalks team from the UW eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good program held a Map-a-thon to address these issues. Data collected by Seattle community members will be integrated with the OpenStreetMap open source platform to offer more robust sidewalk information and navigational assistance for those with limited mobility.

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UW Nurse Camp inspires underrepresented high school students to become the next generation of nurses | Nursing

Less than 20 percent of the U.S. nursing workforce are from low income or underrepresented backgrounds — yet the patients those future nurses will serve are increasingly likely to be minorities. The UW School of Nursing is widening the pathway to nursing for minority students through the UW Nurse Camp. Each summer, high school students get hands-on experience in the world of nursing. Not only do they gain insight into medical career options, many begin to see earning a degree as a real option for the first time, something many low-income or underrepresented students may struggle to visualize.

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“This initiative will provide the activation energy needed to facilitate real impact when it comes to tackling key challenges that currently compromise population health.”

Alison Cullen
Professor, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance