Posted by: Alexa Morris | April 17, 2017

Recycling for Profit

Over the years, Coca-Cola has framed recycling in a variety of ways to discuss the importance of reducing waste and their habits. The current generation vs. future generation frame is used to drive consumers to action (Bortree, Ahern, Smith & Dou, 2013). Coca-Cola’s recycling initiative in Great Britain encouraged customers to take a pledge to recycle and re-use their plastic in a creative way. This is one example of corporate environmental responsibility that was implemented with the intent to change customer’s behavior.

One way Coca-Cola loudly engaged in corporate environmental responsibility was through the development of a new “2-liter soda bottle made with 25% recycled postconsumer plastic” (Biddle, 1993). The new type of container developed by Coca-Cola was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which allows “the containers innovative packaging design to close the recycling loop, since the same plastics used in the making of the bottles can cycle back into Coca-Cola’s manufacturing process and be reused to make the same product” (Biddle, 1993). Before the new bottle was approved “Coca-Cola had to convince the FDA that the company could handle any possibility of contamination” (Biddle, 1993).

The effort to develop a new bottle strongly exemplifies the taking less vs. doing more framing strategy (Bortree et al., 2013).  First, Coca-Cola’s new bottle commends the corporation’s work towards environmental conscious production. The Harvard Business Review shared, “this pioneering work by Coca-Cola and the FDA, some of the outdated government regulating for hygienic quality in the packing of recyclable have been changed” (Biddle, 1993). Coca-Cola changed their environmental habits and drove other companies to think about their impact, rather than focusing on the consumer’s action. Coca-Cola created opportunities for other companies to develop other food and beverage containers made from postconsumer plastics. This new initiative does not focus on driving consumers to change their behavior. Instead, consumers are empowered to do more by supporting the corporation (aka Coca-Cola) that is doing more to help the environment.

Today as consumers continue to pivot toward soda alternatives, Coca-Cola must hold consumer’s attention, perhaps by solving environmental problems for the current generation. However, it’s possible after the Pepsi commercial last week that consumers will want the beverage industry to stay out of the ‘doing more’ space for awhile. Either way,  it will be important for Coca-Cola to engage in new ways, because according to Forbes in 2016, soda consumption fell to a 30-year low in the United States (Kell, 2016).

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Posted by: laurahaneyjackson | April 10, 2017

Exercise 4.1 Self-Identity Audit

When building the foundations of a research project, it’s important to consider how personal characteristics may influence observations. Can my own personal attributes bend the lens through which I observe the world? Absolutely. In order to understand my own biases, a self-identity audit can be a helpful tool.

From a basic demographic perspective, I observe the world around me as a Caucasian female in her mid-thirties, who is married to a male. How might each demographic marker impact my perspective? As an individual, I may be more likely to assume that another female who looks like me would also have similar characteristics. As a qualitative researcher, I must not make any assumptions. If it’s pertinent to the research it should be a question that I ask of the subject directly.

From a social perspective, I’m a DINC (Dual Income No Children), agnostic, well-educated and fit. I have an average build. My personality is friendly and enthusiastic. Friends describe me as tenacious and driven. How might these attributes impact my perspective as a researcher? If I were to place myself in the example used in Researcher’s Notepad 4.3, Nouveau Jail, I would be wise to leave any ego or individual traits about myself checked at the door. Too much enthusiasm may be off-putting to employees of the jail. It would be wise to observe body language and word selection of the individuals I encounter throughout the visit.

A majority of prison employees are male. Because of my social and physical attributes, I would need to accept that the research subjects may not want to readily open up and share info with a young, female graduate student. Liminality is a tactic a researcher may use to observe from a healthy distance. Acting as a gentle observer who is just outside the thick of it could create an opportunity to gain insights and context. I may observe a situation or sequence of events and apply my own interpretation. It would be wise to ask the subjects to speak of the events from their own perspective before asking my own questions.

In Notepad 4.3, Visit 5, the author emotes on feeling the officers do not trust her yet, and as a result, they prevent her from observing the booking area. The researcher expresses anger and embarrassment, feeling dismissed and disrespected as an outsider. These are emotions anyone may feel in a professional setting as well. Is there something about her presence that may have been perceived as a threat to the officers? It’s likely the fact that she is an educated female created a bias in how the officers viewed her.  As a researcher, she must persist and learn when her own emotional response may influence her research.


Exercise 2.2 Research Problem and Questions

Why do women in the United States vote to elect and support people who are against women’s rights and/or equality? Do these women fall within a grand narrative of their own making or one that has been crafted by men? What other factors influence the actions of these women versus the structure of the communities in which they live?

From Phyllis Schlafly, the outspoken activist who fought against equal pay for women, abortion rights and feminism in general, to the women who voted against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump, a long line of social and political events have cemented the presence of women who vote and/or work against equal rights for women. As a woman, it is inconceivable that women still earn less than men, and that women comprise less than 25% of US Senate and Congressional seats. These sensitizing issues and the fact that so much gender inequality still exists are what motivate this research.

The phenomenon of women voting against their own best interests, or more appropriately, the rights of their own gender, is not new. It is not widely understood, though, beyond the satisfice of individual factors such as religion and/or geographic location. Only an emic, qualitative study will provide the inductive, phronetic approach to lead to a fuller, more nuanced answer. For example, quantitative research might reveal that a certain percentage of these women belong to a specific religion; however, that data does not expose the personal stories and/or experiences of these women, both in society and at home.

As a bricoleur, I would like to use information gathered from interviews with and stories from individual women, quantitative data about their religious and marital status and education. Additionally, it would be insightful to study impressionist tales, as available, from several of the women belonging to the studied group.

Posted by: Erin Stutesman | April 9, 2017

The Ethics of Identifying Difficult Populations

Exercise 11.1 of Qualitative Research Methods asks us about recruiting difficult populations, using workplace bullies as an example. This population is difficult to identify because they typically do not associate as such, whether through denial, shame or ignorance. As a result, most studies have focused on bullies’ victims. However, it could be extremely valuable to hear from bullies to understand their motivations. Researchers could then strategize how to prevent workplace bullying. Let’s examine some options on how to best conduct qualitative research on this tricky subject.

One potential opportunity is to unknowingly recruit bullies into an interview study with advertisements that read, “Do you have problem employees?” or “Do you have trouble controlling your irritation with your employees?” However, the phrasing of these questions implies that bullies are always in supervisory positions, which is not necessarily true. It is also possible to have frustration managing employees but not be a bully—for instance, a newer manager may not have much experience with difficult situations and could therefore feel frustration. These questions could be rephrased to ask: “Are you impatient with your colleagues?” or “Do you find working with other people frustrating?” or “Do your co-workers dislike you?” There is still a possibility that non-bullies would respond, but these questions aim to be more specific.

An unethical way to identify bullies would be to ask people to identify their former high school bullies and then have researchers recruit those bullies to ask about their jobs and leadership style. This tactic is unethical because that information is extremely subjective and relies on one population’s word against another’s—researchers do not know the circumstances of the former high schoolers experience, and cannot verify that they were bullied or not. Furthermore, people are capable of growth and change, especially after high school. Just because they were bullies as teenagers does not mean that they continue to be toxic in the professional world.

Once researchers are confident that they have recruited bullies, there are still further ethical implications to consider, such as how to avoid the “bully” label with participants, yet still use the data. One tactic could be to phrase interview questions around the subject of bullying, such as “Have you ever been called a bully?” or “Do you think you treat colleagues fairly?” These questions give participants the opportunity to consider their actions and respond honestly without automatically labeling them as bullies.

Posted by: sweadickblog | December 5, 2016

My New Click Bait: Social Innovation

After all of our research on social innovation, classmate Alexa Morris and I both had a similar experience on the internet. We had a new “click bait” article come across our news feeds: “Donald Trump: Herald for Social Innovation” from My idealistic side did not want to equate social innovation with Trump in any fashion, but I had to click it. I quickly learned that the article was angling more toward social innovation and seemed to use Trump and the awakening of the divisions in America as a wrapper.

Social innovation offers the next wave of opportunity for corporations to address society’s largest problems, while adding to their bottom line. Corporate social innovation (CSI) is all about transparency of intent to improve society in a way that aligns with the business’ core competencies and is a benefit to shareholders and consumers alike. The next generation is pushing CSI forward and believes that their role in society is to create change and lasting impact on the world’s largest problems.


A visual look at CSI from KPMG Social Innovation Report, FY14.

I hesitate to write the word because I know the “algorithm” is going to be coming for me, but it’s true, Millennials “don’t just want to merely do good; they want to solve world problems” (Saul, 2011, p. 98).


Posted by: Keegan Clements-Housser | December 5, 2016

The Case for (Dishonest) Communcations


In his article “The Case for Communications” published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Sean Gibbons makes a strong case for the importance of communications in non-profits and foundations.

He points out that organizations that are particularly good at communication, especially new communication that is primarily spread on a grass-roots level, tend to be much more effective at accomplishing their missions. One example he cites is the social media uproar that happened after the poaching of Cecil the lion,  a campaign started, managed, and encouraged by the World Wildlife Fund. According to Gibbons, their efforts increased media coverage of illegal poaching by 270 percent. It’s undeniably an impressive number.

So what happens when a non-profit or foundation puts forward a communication strategy that actively presents falsehoods as truth? A particularly noteworthy example would be the National Rifle Association (NRA). A quick check of their PolitiFact profile reveals that far more of their public claims are false than true. There have been several extensive articles by a multitude of publications documenting their misinformation campaigns. The narrative they weave is objectively false and misleading. Yet it cannot be denied that it’s a very successful strategy, and the NRA’s rhetoric shapes the political views of millions of members.

Gibbons is right—communication strategies are incredibly potent tools. It can be used to tackle important, critical challenges faced by humanity; or, it can be used to spread fear and misinformation. Media professionals take note, lest we remain complacent or worse: fall into the same trap.

Posted by: laurahaneyjackson | December 5, 2016

Information Laundering


After spending hours on the internet researching Political Satire as a topic for our final white paper of the year, and poring through multiple scholarly journals and news pieces about the role of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report in the field of journalism, it’s only appropriate that the algorithm of the internet dropped a new piece, about none other than Jon Stewart, into my Facebook news feed. Even more fitting was the theme of the piece— fake news.

In the article, Stewart contends that the media has become an “information laundering system” in which news from unverified sources is making its way into the mainstream. He goes on to point out that media outlets are utilizing second-hand reporting, and in some cases, using blogs from unknown credibility in order to source an article. Within the final published piece, the author may ultimately opt to not cite the source due to its questionable credibility. Because the mainstream media subsequently covers the story, it thus becomes true in the eyes of the viewer. As the ever-reliable media critic, Stewart also criticizes the media for obsessively updating viewers on micro or incremental news updates, pointing out that the move to update undermines its editorial authority.

In an effort to do my part to counteract the information laundering cycle, the article was published on Quartz (, and the author appears to have a legitimate byline and depth of experience.


Posted by: Alexa Morris | December 2, 2016

Facebook LIVE is a powerful tool

Facebook LIVE exposed my digital social capital in a way I never expected. I didn’t realize people I don’t talk to anymore are still interested in what I am doing. Take a look at bridging and bonding social capital as people stay connected with members of previous communities (high school, college, jobs) and maintain social capital (Ellison et al., 2007).

On November 16, 2016 I posted my first Facebook LIVE video. I sat in my car, held my phone in front of my face and talked about a Rotary meeting I just spoke at, where I thanked them for sponsoring me to attend RYLA in July.

About 2 minutes into my video I began to cry, because I realized how much had changed since July: “I was so anxious about going to grad school…I’m tearing up and I’m LIVE on Facebook…Now I’m in school, which I was really concerned about in July…and the reality is I had nothing to worry about because school has been so good.”
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I had 79 likes and 30 encouraging comments on this video from “friends” from all walks of my life. Two friends who I hadn’t talked to in a couple years called me and said how much they could relate to my video and shared how far they have come since college. Facebook LIVE has highlighted my weak ties (Putnam, 2000) and has prompted me to post more Facebook LIVE videos, because it increases my social capital and I enjoy reconnecting with friends.

Ellison, N., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007) The benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Student’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 12 (4), 1143 – 1168.

Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | November 30, 2016

Following the fake news trail

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Again, as we were talking about in class on Monday night, up comes a great bit of content to address the issue of fake news. Think about your role in potentially spreading it!

What a Map of the Fake-News Ecosystem Says About the Problem


Posted by: marlenebarbera | November 29, 2016

Toward an Ideal of Participatory Journalism

Lewis, Holton and Coddington, lay out a case for a journalism framed by reciprocal relationshipse that create a way to explore the realm of reciprocity in journalism, in  Reciprocal Journalism.

 Reciprocal journalism  points to the unrealized potential for a participatory journalism that has mutual benefit in mind, that is not merely fashioned to suit a news organization’s interests but also takes citizens’ concerns to heart.

I have personally watched this play out on my alma mater’s alumni created facebook page which was infiltrated by current students deriding alumni perspectives as insufficiently ‘woke’ in common parlance. Alumni responded with ire, experiencing the students as disrespectful, also critiquing their arguments. Students were outraged that their ideas had met resistance of any kind. Massive quarrelling, spiderman meme-bombing and discord ensued. But- reciprocity played a role here as did time and community. As the controversy roiled, alumni invoked a request to hear one another out with a presumption of good faith, and a willingness to listen to one another. This did not produce immediate miracles. All grew quite heated and emphatic, people were blocked and unblocked, friended and unfriended.  Over time, many of the people I disagreed with most emphatically have become friends whose views I seek out and use to test out my own fledgling theories. It was messy, complicated and many people were not satisfied but the group keeps growing, tolerating one another on the merits of arguments presented. Something similar may be possible across the internet, if people can be both encouraged to express themselves and also to listen to one another with good faith arguments and plenty of supportive evidence.

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