Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Department of Veterans' Affairs and PTSD

Hello everyone!

Here is the link to my paper! I hope you enjoy what I found.

Additionally, here is a link to my screencast.

Lastly, here is a link to my blog!


purplestarveterans.org


The Department of Veterans Affairs and PTSD Paper


The U.S. Veterans Affairs and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
There are many issues in this world that remain unresolved for various reasons. I believe that one reason why things remain unresolved is because we fail to analyze things with an interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinary is defined as a cognitive process that evaluates different disciplines’ views to find common ground among them and better understand an issue or problem (Repko123). Approaching problems with an interdisciplinary approach is important because many problems cannot be solved by a single discipline.
            A very debated issue in today’s society is the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The Veterans Affairs system, also known as the VA, is a government organization that was founded in 1930 which provides benefits for people who served in the military (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014).  The reason why the VA system is so heavily debated is because many people question whether or not veterans receive the benefits and care they deserve and were promised. A very common disability among service men and women is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many veterans diagnosed with PTSD receive benefits and treatment through the VA. With PTSD being such a common disorder, it is questionable as to whether or not Veterans Affairs provides quality care for PTSD patients. Men and women who have served for our country and put their life at risk for our freedom without a doubt deserve superb care.
            Treatment of PTSD is very complex. The severity of the disorder varies drastically from person to person; therefore, treatment is going to vary from person to person, as well. Additionally, as if the disorder is not complex enough, the VA is also a very intricate system. There are numerous processes veterans must go through in order to get diagnosed and to receive treatment. The approach to treating PTSD patients through the VA must integrate concepts and practices from multiple disciplines. For example, PTSD should not be treated by psychologists alone. Occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, pharmacologists, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, dog trainers, and organization leaders all can contribute to the treatment of PTSD. Potentially relevant disciplines include psychology, sociology, natural sciences, biology, pharmacology, exercise science and economics. The most relevant include psychology, pharmacology, and economics. Psychologists incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy, pharmacologists can administer certain medications, and the economy fuels the VA and various foundations.
            After conducting a literature search and researching the topic, it is very evident that psychology is one of the most relevant disciplines to the treatment of PTSD through the VA.  Cognitive based therapy includes Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure Therapy. These forms of therapy have proven to have positive effects on PTSD. Cognitive Processing Therapy aims to change how a patient perceives the trauma they experienced. It also aims to help the patient comprehend how they may bring stress onto themselves and, as a result, make their condition worse. Veterans should be able to effectively deal with feelings of anger, guilt, and being afraid following cognitive therapy (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014). It is common that we associate bad memories with being afraid, being fearful, and angry. However, Prolonged Exposure Therapy aims to desensitize veterans of their bad memories. By talking about those memories and what types of feelings they evoke, veterans are able to gain better control of their feelings, thoughts, and actions (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is another treatment that is commonly used for PTSD. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is being implemented for treatment of PTSD, as well. This involves the patient tracking the movement of a therapist's hand or foot with their eyes. The therapist may tap their hand or foot, while the patient recalls their traumatic memories. This allows the patient to openly talk about what they went through or witnessed while focusing on something else (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014). In addition, pharmacology is commonly used in treating PTSD. Different medications have proven to be effective in helping people cope with their PTSD and various symptoms that they experience. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are classified as an antidepressant, are commonly prescribed (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014).
            While these treatments have proven to be effective, there are other areas to explore as well. Group therapy, family therapy, acupuncture, yoga, medical marijuana, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and the use of service dogs are all alternative routes that are worth exploring.
Group therapy is a form of treatment where veterans can come together and discuss their experiences with each other. This could be helpful for people who benefit sharing memories with people similar to them and who personally understand what they're going through (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014). 
Psychodynamic psychotherapy helps veterans comprehend how their traumatic experience from the past impact how they feel presently. This helps veterans gain control of their feelings and identifies what memories cause PTSD symptoms (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014). 
Family therapy is beneficial for veterans with families. PTSD can affect a veteran's family tremendously. Not only does the veteran get counseled, but so does the family. This is an opportunity for both the veteran and their family to express their fears, concerns, stressors and more. This type of therapy can be essential in building a solid support group for the veteran at home (United States Department of Veterans Affairs 2014). 
Defense Centers of Excellence provides a brief statement regarding complimentary and alternative medicine: "Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches are often considered alternative to typical medical practices. Acupuncture is often considered a CAM treatment. There is some evidence that acupuncture may improve PTSD symptoms and acupuncture may be considered a treatment for patients with PTSD. Broadly, other forms of CAM include natural products, mind-body medicine, body manipulation and movement techniques, and energy techniques. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to recommend CAM approaches as a first line of treatment for PTSD. Several CAM approaches, such as mindfulness and yoga, are similar to traditional medical relaxation techniques and may be considered as adjunctive treatment of hyperarousal symptoms, although the relative effectiveness of these treatments is unknown. CAM approaches may be considered for patients who refuse other treatments, but providers should consider the risks of CAM approaches and keep in mind that treatments that have a limited evidence base for effectiveness also have a limited evidence base for potential harm and side effects (Defense Center Of Excellence 2015)."
Additionally, an article in the New York Times discusses psychomotor therapy as a successful treatment for PTSD. Bessel van der Kolk, a Dutch psychiatrist, practiced psychomotor therapy on an Iraq War veteran. Pyschomotor therapy was developed by a dancer named Albert Pesso. This therapy involved PTSD victims reenacting their experiences with other people. While the veteran plays out what happened, people serve as characters in his story and recreate his experience. During the traumatic portion of the experience, the characters feed the veteran words of encouragement and forgiveness. Recreating the experience allows the veteran to associate those positive feelings with their memory rather than their negative associations, which lead to symptoms of PTSD. The article stated that this kind of therapy is not commonly practiced or supported, however, this psychiatrist believes it can really benefit some people (Interlandi 2014).
In contrast, in a WQAD article the topic of medical marijuana is discussed. Recently at an Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board meeting, it was suggested that PTSD be added as a condition that elicits the use of medical marijuana (Simmons 2015).
Many of these treatments are not clinically supported. Fortunately, because PTSD is such a significant issue, more funding is being provided for suicide prevention, which unfortunately sometimes is a result of people who suffer from PTSD (Parnell 2015). Additionally, a law was passed this year with the intention of improving the VA's psychiatric services and suicide prevention (Parnell 2015). Perhaps some of this funding should also go towards researching these various alternative and non-traditional treatments.
While cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychomotor therapy all fall under the discipline of psychology, there are many different disciplines involved in the treatment of PTSD. For instance, pharmacology is a popular discipline involved through the distribution of medications and exercise science is involved through the implementation of yoga. Due to the severity of PTSD varying so much, it is important the degree and types of treatments vary as well. Additionally, it is important to understand that perhaps medications and cognitive behavioral therapy do not work for every veteran. It is likely that Exposure Therapy does not work for every veteran with PTSD but maybe acupuncture would. It is essential that we explore all options due to the wide range of severity in PTSD. 
Furthermore, a system needs to be developed that aids physicians in being able to better diagnose veterans. Physicians report having a hard time distinguishing people who genuinely have PTSD and people who are claiming to have PTSD to receive the benefits. This is where economics ties in. We need people to stop taking advantage of the system so that those who truly need it and deserve it can receive their maximum benefits and be taken care of. Some service men and women exaggerate or fabricate symptoms of PTSD to receive the benefits. In an article produced by LA Times, it was stated that about half of veterans claiming to have PTSD are exaggerating or lying about their symptoms (Zarembo 2014). Payments to veterans with PTSD are approximately $49 billion (Zarembo 2014). What is concerning is how much of those payments are going to people who are not genuinely suffering from PTSD. Zarembo brings up a great point that something that might traumatize one person may not even bother another. These kinds of predicaments make it challenging for physicians to properly and accurately diagnose veterans. A diagnosis for a disorder like PTSD that relies heavily on what the patient reports is a tough call to make. How is someone able to or even allowed to accuse someone of fabricating symptoms for something as serious and as tragic as PTSD? Additionally, there are online forums instructing service members what to do when they go in for their evaluation prior to separating from the military. For instance, "Dress poorly and don't shower, refuse to sit with your back to the door, and constantly scan the room (Zarembo 2014)." This kind of behavior is frustrating for not only physicians, but victims of PTSD. Physicians are challenged with properly diagnosing veterans, however, it can only be assumed that veterans who suffer from PTSD are outraged to hear of people exaggerating symptoms or lying completely to receive benefits. 
In addition to all of the treatments proven effective and those that are still in the shadows, organizations, foundations, and campaigns help bring awareness to the problem as well as support veterans with PTSD in many different ways. It is essential that veterans are provided with various support groups, organizations, and funds. Fortunately, there are many different support groups, organizations, and foundations solely for veterans and veterans with PTSD.
The Battle Buddy Foundation accepts donations and partners with other organizations to provide service dogs to qualifying veterans. The goal of this foundation is to allow wounded veterans, physically and/or mentally, to presume a normal life and adapt to the civilian world with the help of a service dog (TBBF 2015). The service dogs serve as not only a guard dog but also a dog that has the ability to wake their owners up from night terrors, watch their back so the person doesn’t feel anxious, guide them through crowded situations, and more.
Stop Soldier Suicide is another organization established by a veteran. The organization does not claim to be a team of medical professionals but rather a bridge to help service members get help. They are made up of veterans and active duty service men and women. They connect with the service member, they assess and triage, and then they help transition and follow up. The service member can either contact them through their Facebook page, partner organizations, or their 24/7 Resource Center. They then talk with the person and assess their individual needs and the severity of those needs. They will connect them to the proper resource to get them the right help that is best suited for them. Additionally, if they are in crisis and do not want to contact the VA crisis hotline, they will connect them with a VA counselor and stay on the phone with them while they get help. They follow up with people who reached out to them for up to 2 years depending on the severity of the person's needs and the help they received (Stop Soldier Suicide 2014). 
#22KILL is a nonprofit Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. campaign that advocates for the prevention of suicide. They provide people with the VA crisis hotline, as well as Team #22KILL. Team #22KILL is made up of 1,150 active duty men and women, reservists, and veterans who provide their contact information for people in need. Anyone can access their contact information and call them to simply talk, vent, seek guidance, or ask advice. Additionally, they host events, fundraisers, and more. They are commonly recognized for their #22KILL rings that people wear to support those who serve or have served for our country (HCC, Inc. 2015).
Although these may not be considered treatments, they are benefits to service men and women. These are organizations, foundations, and campaigns that support the battles service members face and help them live a normal and enjoyable life, free of fear. 
I believe this topic is the epitome of a problem that requires an interdisciplinary approach. This problem is so complex and important to our society; it is not possible for a single discipline to resolve it. Researching this problem with an interdisciplinary approach opened my eyes to a much bigger picture. It is not as simple as solving PTSD through the VA system with psychology, this problem involves much more than that; there are so many different pieces to the puzzle. Treating PTSD is a very complex process in itself and it does not have a single answer that will solve everything.            
Additionally, the VA is a multipart system that attempts to treat a wide range of PTSD with treatments that have proven to be most effective. To advance we need to find a way to distinguish the severity of PTSD among veterans. We also need to prescribe treatments that fit the person and not just because it is most effective. That being said, some treatments that are not supported by research need to be explored further so that they can be utilized or put to rest. For instance, yoga, acupuncture, psychomotor therapy, and medical marijuana. In addition to treatments, outside organizations, foundations, and campaigns are just as important. Having foundations such as The Battle Buddy Foundation can further benefit veterans. This is why assessing this problem with an interdisciplinary approach is key. Treating a veteran with PTSD with cognitive behavioral therapy alone may be effective, but not as effective when combined with a service dog, a yoga routine, monthly acupuncture, and more. Assessing the problem from all angles, and not just one, is essential to delivering veterans the quality care they deserve.
            The Veterans Affairs system and its involvement with patients diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder is a very complicated and multifaceted topic that cannot be broken down and resolved in a single research paper. However, assessing the topic and conducting research can take us one step closer to guaranteeing quality care for our veterans.
My Interdisciplinary Studies degree that mirrors an Allied Health Science track incorporates Biology, Chemistry, and Physical Education. This major has taught me to assess situations, such as this one, with an interdisciplinary approach drawing from each discipline. Being able to study three different disciplines and integrate them together, I have been able to more comprehensively understand problems and situations. I currently work as a High Intensity Tactical Trainer on Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. I physically train marines and sailors daily to prepare them for deployment and to help them post-deployment. PTSD can be a very sensitive topic for many people, so it is not often that I am made aware of a marine or sailors mental health. However, for those marines and sailors who do have PTSD who come to my training sessions, perhaps our workouts not only prepare them physically but also mentally. Maybe physically training helps people with PTSD because it puts their focus elsewhere and releases endorphins. I am grateful for having the opportunity to major in Interdisciplinary Studies. Any problem can be approached with an interdisciplinary approach, and it is those approaches that will lead to comprehensive solutions for the better of others and ourselves.





References
Basu, M. (2014) "Why Suicide Rate among Veterans May Be More than 22 a Day - CNN.com." Cable News Network. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/

Defense Center of Excellence (2015). PTSD Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.dcoe.mil/Libraries/Documents/DCoE_PTSDFactSheet_20140410.pdf 

Defense Center of Excellence (2015). PTSD Treatment Options. Retrieved from http://www.dcoe.mil/PsychologicalHealth/PTSD_Treatment_Options.aspx   

Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. (2015). #22KILL. Retrieved from http://22kill.com

Interlandi, J. (2014) "A Revolutionary Approach to Treating PTSD." New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/magazine/a-revolutionary-approach-to-treating-ptsd.html?_r=0

Parnell, S. (2015) "We’re Not Doing Enough to Help Veterans with PTSD." Olean Times Herald. Retrieved from http://www.oleantimesherald.com/commentary/article_34cfd740-f346-11e4-bc66-a31d0251f42a.html

Repko, A. F. (2014). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Simmons, S. "Veteran Says Treating PTSD with Marijuana Is a Double-edged Sword." WQAD8. Wqad.com, 5 May 2015. Web.

Stop Soldier Suicide (2014). Our Approach. Retrieved from http://stopsoldiersuicide.org/about/our-approach/

The Battle Buddy Foundation (2015). Service Dog Program. Retrieved from http://tbbf.org/service-dog-program

United States Department of Veteran Affairs (2014). PTSD: National Center for PTSD. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/treatment/therapy-med/treatment-ptsd.asp

Zarembo, A. (2014). "As Disability Awards Grown, so Do Concerns with Veracity of PTSD Claims." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-ptsd-disability-20140804-story.html#page=1





Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Growing Place

Hi there!

Over the course of this semseter, I've been working on my Senior Capstone Project. I created a summer camp called "The Growing Place," which is designed to provide services to children with special needs through the outlets of music, theatre, and dance.

Take a look at my screen cast to learn more about my project, and read through my paper, which provides a more in depth look at my findings through creating this project!

Here are the links to my personal website where you can learn more about me and my IS contract, as well as my project website. Just a reminder, this camp is a hypothetical project I have created (but I really do wish it was real!)

Thank you!
-Chelsea Merritt



AT Quick Facts!

Want to learn a about my Capstone Project?! 
Here is a screen cast of what its all about!



Here is the link to my paper!
Here is the link to my website!



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The Journey of the Not so Healthy Health Major

Hi all so I suppose you want to learn about my capstone project! I have made a screencast giving an overview of what I did!!

I now present to you the Journey of the Not so Healthy Health Major...


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Here is the link to my paper 
Click here to take a look at my website
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Open Your Eyes: The Truth About Hunger in Your Community

Hello!

Throughout the semester, I've been working on my project which is called, Open Your Eye: The Truth About Hunger in Your Community.

Please watch my screen cast and learn about my progress with this research and Click Here to read my paper. 





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Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level.

Hello everyone and welcome to my capstone project on Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level. This will be an in depth look on how environmental factors, such as radiation, can damage the genetic coding of your DNA; but how does that involve psychology??? or even sociology??? Make sure to check out my project lecture to get a full, three discipline, view of environmental risk factors and your neurodevelopmental health.




                                                                                        Photo credit to: tigger.uic.edu

Make sure to check out my screen cast which gives you a brief look into to my lecture and more!!!
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Here is my full length lecture on Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level. Be sure to take a look!!!
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Also if you would like to look at some additional information on myself, such as how I came across the idea for my project, or why I chose those three particular disciplines out of so many possible disciplines, feel free to take a look at my project paper. Other points of interest in the paper is the explanation of how and why this project lecture truly encompasses interdisciplinary means.

Project Lecture Paper

The genetic code, the entirety of what makes up a human, is often discussed as a controversial topic with regards to the future. If you are a movie buff, then you can understand the fears underlying the movie “Gatica”. The movie depicts a futuristic tale of a Utopian society where children are no longer conceived by normal means, but through the process of genetic manipulation to achieve the best possible, or desired, offspring. This concept grievously portrays genetic discrimination, meaning that people would be judged solely upon the makeup and orientation of their molecular DNA. As evil as all this sounds, there is a light side to altering the genetic code. Think of infant sentenced to death by their own cellular machinery, talking of course of the cancerous tumor slowly eating its way towards his or her newly developed lungs. Now, what if a doctor told you that if the child’s DNA were altered in such a way that their immune system would now recognize the cancerous cells as foreign and fight back; would you allow it? Even if this question is outside the confines of reality it brings to light the importance of DNA, and how mutations within the code could be seen as good or bad. So, how do these genetic mutations effect our daily lives?
Now that I have caught your attention, I would like to tell you about my research project. The project itself will be an engaging “Ted Talk” using PowerPoint and audio software to engage the readers and immerse them into the world of DNA mutations. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I would like to address the research question, stated above, from three different disciplines; Sociology, Psychology, and Genetics, focusing more on the biomedical aspects of each discipline. These three disciplines are part of a larger group of fields that are encompassed through my major, Interdisciplinary Studies Biomedical Sciences. Besides the fields previously mentioned, Biomedical Sciences draws from all perspectives of medical science from anatomy to biology to chemistry to neurobiology and so on. For any major to be truly Interdisciplinary it is necessary to be able to integrate knowledge from each discipline to achieve a greater picture. For example, one can identify the anatomical location of the amygdala, the portion of the brain that is responsible for the fear response; However, without the psychological knowledge of how fear is rationalized it is impossible to approach the topic of human fear based solely off of anatomical knowledge alone. This notion is the same with my project; the picture would not be complete with just pulling information from one discipline. I could have just covered the genetics part and written a long scientific paper with graphs and tables on how gene expression changes with varying lifestyles, but the audience would not learn about how the genetics affects the psychology of the brain, or how the psychology of the brain intern has an effect on a person’s demeanor. So it is necessary to pull information from all three different, but related topics to get a well-rounded point of view; Thus allowing for the readers to make their own decisions on what they have learned.
The project will be undertaken like any other research project in regards to the research itself. I have used my library website, and the library itself, to extensively search through the countless databases and archives for information on my topic from all three different fields. I also made great use of the interlibrary loan system here at my school, where if there is an article that you need, and they don’t have it, they will get it for you.
As I stated above, the disciplines I will be drawing from are Genetics, Psychology, and Sociology. This was not an easy decision to get to, as I had originally wanted a few more disciplines including Neurobiology, Anatomy, and Molecular Biology. However, after great deliberation I narrowed the list down to the three most relevant to the question I am asking; How do genetic mutations effect our daily lives? It is a simple answer for genetics to provide seeing how the basis of any genetics book is DNA. Not just describing DNA, but going into how DNA is made and how there are a multitude of genes that code for more than a multitude of processes in the human body. It is honestly a miracle how humans work in the first place. Psychology was a bit harder to rationalize the question around. Once I was able to understand that a person’s behavior isn't a choice of heart, but rather a matter of the mind it all came together. The genetics of a person make up everything about them including their brain, so there for the psychology of their behavior would also intern, by conjunction, be effected by their genetics. There is where I found the connection from genetics to psychology. Then I realized that this interaction between the genetics and psychology would also have implications within our delicate society. For starters, our society does not like change; so any mutation, that was advantageous and viable to life, would be seen as different and treated negatively. Second, from the individual’s point of view, their DNA could have been negatively altered leaving their brains unable to cope with stress or other emotions that would otherwise be easy to cope with. There are just so many instances where the makeup of our DNA affects our daily lives.
More than the other interdisciplinary integration approaches, conceptualization has aided my research the most. “Conceptual integration seeks “to make meaning from different concepts that, on the surface, have no apparent connection or commonality” (Morrison, 2003, p. 1). I take that quote to mean that two disciplines may have a different view on a subject, but when those two views are “blended” together they intern make a new view. Throughout my research project I have kept this approach in my mind. For example, when “blending” genetics and psychology together I was made aware of a view that neither field would readily agree too or adhere to. I then took that new view and “blended” it together with sociology. This really made the whole picture of genetic manipulation come to life. Now, as an aspiring biomedical scientist, at first, my view on this project were extremely biased towards the realm of scientific logic. I took all that scientific jargon for an absolute, saying to myself that here could not be any other truths to this question. Through conceptualization I was able to overcome my bias and turn the scientific knowledge towards uncovering new ideas and theories on the matter at hand. Overall my entire knowledge base on the subject has increased exponentially, and it is my hope as my readers that you come away with the same sense of intellectual change as I have. I went from understanding how a single mutation in gene regulation of a protein could in turn cause that protein to misfold, which would then cause a cascade event of destruction of surrounding tissues and other cellular damages; to now understanding that that is not the whole picture. The damage that was caused by the misfolded protein could effect an area of brain cortices   associated with memory function or even the ability to speak. So you can get a small idea of the far reaching implications entwined with mutations within our genetic code.


I hope you have enjoyed my Interdisciplinary Studies Biomedical Sciences Capstone Project Lecture. Please feel free to leave comments with questions and comments!









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Traumatized DNA: How Exogenous Factors Effect Humans on a Molecular, Psychological, and Sociological Level. by John Rollins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Unconventional Therapies!

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For a link to my paper click HERE! 

Also feel free to check out my website here! (: Congratulations to all my graduating seniors out there. Its been a great semester with you all.

An Interactive Exploration to Encourage Scientific Awareness





Scientific communication is the way science-related information is presented to those less experienced in science fields, and how that information is perceived among diverse audiences. The methods used to communicate scientific information to an audience are crucial in assuming the message is understood. Improper understanding of science can be dangerous, while proper understanding leads to more informed and adequate members of society. As we progress through an era that is highly dependent on science and technology, it is vital for everyone to have an equal understanding when it comes to the facts. The demand for scientific professionals is increasing every year as science is being incorporated more and more into our culture. Scientific Communication is an integral field to cultural progress because without using effective communication techniques, the science will not be understood. By itself, science is just that awful class you slept through in high school, but alongside communication it is an interdisciplinary effort to further important understanding. My goal with this project is to not only put together an easy understanding of basic scientific topics, but to pave a road for others to follow with the communication of science. My interactive scientific exploration website called Earth, Wind & Water aims to revolutionize the way we look at science by taking several scientific genres and putting them into the perspective of my personal three favorite sports; rock climbing, sailing, and scuba diving. My hope is that this idea catches on and we are able to delve further into our modern society with open minds of scientific awareness.  [Read the rest of this paper here]


View Earth Wind & Water website here





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The Roots of Gender Violence: Deconstructing Social Norms that Perpetuate Violence Against Women

For my project, I focused on deconstructing the social norms that directly linked to the pervalence of gender violence in the United States.

Sounds interesting? Wanting to know more?
CLICK HERE to read my research paper on the topic! 
Thanks for watching and reading!

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Cohesive Therapy for Children for Autism Spectrum Disorder


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If you would like to know more, you can read my paper.

Also, visit my website!

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Concord Institute of Global Education : 2015 Summer Camp










About My Project


My Interdisciplinary capstone project is to construct the fundamental structure of a global educational company, Concord Institute of Global Education.  This company is focused on providing cultural education, language studies and environmental experiences for students from Asia.  My work has progressed in initiating the company, and I have reached several completion milestones: establishing the company’s mission and educational statement, deciding targeted customers and locating the company’s intention to contemporize with customers’ focus of educational achievement, and setting up main services for drawing customers as well as maintaining effectiveness for business profits.  Among the services and programs of the company, I investigated and constructed a Summer Camp Program for Korean children age eight to fifteen years old. 

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The Concord Institute of Global Education states its mission as providing globally minded educational services to families, schools, corporations and non-government organizations.  Since our world has become easier for people to travel, through the development of technology and transportation, modern educational trends also have changed globally.  The importance of English has been added and stressed for a few decades in non-English speaking countries, including South Korea.  Students’ learning movement has changed physically and methodically.  Even children in elementary school travel abroad by themselves to experience foreign language training and to learn subjects that their schools in South Korea offer limitedly.  My company understands and follows the recent societal trends and needs of each individual and provides them adequate education and new experiences. Consequently, the children will become culturally competent and intellectually broadened.  This is the company’s purpose to adhere and to support them to grow as leaders of their generation.
Because my previous teaching experience and connections with parents and educators are from South Korea, I intend to construct the business contents and follow directions to focus on their educational needs.  My exploration of the South Korean school system and their education flaws enabled me to set the period of service and activities that might draw potential customers away from competitors. 
My capstone project intimately arrays with my major; Early Childhood Administration integrates business acumen and educational insights.  As I believe a quality education program for young children requires a well-educated administrator who utilizes business skills and who has a deep understanding of early childhood pedagogy, my knowledge and learning experience from my major fulfilled to organize this project and led to further progress.  Establishing a company which serves children and families with high quality education requires the employer to be confident in both areas; education and business management to lead it successfully.  As the business’s administrator and teacher, I should be able to draw upon multiple skills from both domains.  
About My Major

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Early Childhood Administration, my interdisciplinary major, is the cognitively processed studies of both insights from early childhood education and business management that are integrated and their perspectives are conveyed to understand the complexity of managing the educational program.   It draws upon pedagogical knowledge, age appropriate approaches, teaching methods, and technical utilization of teaching materials in education.  The Business Management field contributes principles of marketing, organizing the program, and any financial related objects.  These two insights enabled me to identify what needs to be highlighted, and further supported me to competently work both as a teacher and an administrator. 


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Taking a bigger perspective on the project, I was able to logically measure the programmatic aspects within the educational and business senses.  Then the interwoven knowledge and perspective from each discipline compelled into my project.  For example, my educational insights enabled me to build effectively designed curricula for multiple age groups, to confirm educational beliefs and teaching methods for the students, and to approach students with a culturally responsive aptitude.   Looking at my project through a business lens led me to examine marketing strengths and weaknesses, to construct an order of operations of the business model, and to increase attraction by more customers.  Finally these two disciplines were integrated further to develop cultural understanding between South Korea and the United States, for me to build up my project in detail and from multiple perspectives.

Methods
The project conducted outcomes through utilizing the Instrumental Interdisciplinary concepts, the Perspective Taking theory and Qualitative method.  Establishing a multicultural educational program targeted for students who are learning English as a Second Language and experiencing western culture demands vast knowledge and understanding from several disciplines in order to extend the best ideas.  The Instrumental Interdisciplinary perspective helped me to collect information from relevant disciplines that amplified the knowledge and incorporated it in creating formative outcomes to solve the problem.   Creating common ground through examining different disciplines and seeking usable sources from each epistemology enhanced the way I gained comprehensive understanding for building the foundation for the project. 
Along with the Instrumental Interdisciplinary method, I applied the Perspective Taking Theory which led me to effectively interrogate disciplines.  It enabled me to utilize different views of understanding from each perspective: education, TESOL, cultural studies, and business.  For example, when I created the curriculum for our summer-camp program, I considered if the activities were developmentally appropriate for elementary school children by viewing the problem in studies of education.   I examined if the American field trip choices were interesting enough for children who come from South Korea.  I compared and contrasted the generalized educational environments and curriculum of South Korea with that of, USA and I tried to find innovative cultural activities for the students.  This process was based on a cultural studies perspective.  For managing the business perspective, I measured if the activities, services and fieldtrips were profit efficient, and if they were cost effective based on the amount of expenses.  I gained knowledge and an enriched understanding of the disciplines being interwoven into a multiple-perspective, and it generated negotiable outcomes applicable to interdisciplinary theory.
Lastly, the Qualitative Method was added for gathering information through interviewing and observation under the study of cultural anthropology, cultural studies and TESOL.  The Outcomes of my project were influenced from an interview with Aaron Hughes, ESOL coordinator at New Hampshire Technical Institute and Adjunct professor in Southern New Hampshire University.  His awareness of trends in modern education and globalized education systems is deeply reflected in my project.  Strategies in teaching and reinforcing children with cultural acknowledgement also added to enrich the culturally responsive program.  Constructing my project not only from academic resources but including a professional interview with professional perspectives, ideas, and knowledge helped to form an important portion of the methods that I used.
Disciplines that are integrated for the project
The project required me to integrate the intellectual knowledge from several disciplines: TESOL, Education, Business, and Cultural Studies.  Each discipline contributed specific knowledge and principles in creating the educational program.  These different dimensions effectively completed my multifaceted project.
  1. TESOL education guided me to utilize adequate strategies and gave me specialized methods to practice with linguistically diverse children.  Concord Institute of Global Education offers English studies and language expansion activities for the children from South Korea.  Teaching English is based on the Direct Method incorporating “naturalistic” mindset by “Simulating the natural way in which children learns first language” (Brown 21).   According to Brown, “Second language learning should be more like first language learning--lots of interaction, spontaneous use of the language, no translation between first and second languages and little or no analysis of grammatical rules” (Brown 21).  Studies in TESOL contributed to building strategies in appropriate language teaching for international students, based upon individuals’ language interest and ability, and different language structures in English. 
  2. Examining cultural studies empowered me to understand differences in educational values and perspectives between Asians and Americans.  Hazel and Alana separate individuals into independent self and interdependent self in their book, Clash (Markus 18).  An experiment that was given to early elementary school students by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper, to solve as many word-unscrambling puzzles as possible, but under different conditions.  The result showed that Asian children performed the best when their mom chose their topic than personal choice or researchers’ pick (Markus 6).  It indicated that their parents know what their children’s interests are and what areas their child is more competent in than others (Markus 7).  Asian children are described as having a more interdependent self than European-American students because their problem solving is closely affected from the relationship between their mothers and them.  In Asian culture, parents’ decisions on their children’s education are more powerful than child’s choice, and this research reminds that how building my business strategies that satisfy the parents are essential.  In understanding cultural differences, I should be able to read Korean parents’ tendencies on education and their educational values and desires.  This understanding enhanced the design of my curriculum for South Korean students who may have been brought up with different educational philosophies and methods.  Cultural Studies examined the characteristics of new environments as well as comparisons of home cultures and life styles, which enable students to empower language requisition smoothly. 
  3. The epistemology in education provided me the educational belief that my company will build upon and highlight the areas in the curriculum and activities, as well as field trip options that are appropriate for students.   Multiple Intelligence theory is widely recognized in educational practice and having various activity options has become integral of our curriculum.  As I discovered,
    “It is of the utmost importance that we recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligence, and all of the combinations of intelligences.  We are all so different largely because we all have different combinations of intelligence.  If we recognize this, I think we will have at least a better chance of dealing appropriately with the many problems that we face in the world” (Gardner 1993 ). 
    The perspective of this theory is deeply reflected in my company’s vision; therefore, Concord Institute of Global education offers sports, music, arts, nature studies, and science for students to explore to seek their interests and to develop their abilities in young ages.  We encourage students to utilize their eight intelligences: linguistic, logical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist by preparing activities available for them to choose as electives, further respecting their choices and interests.  Establishing discipline in education allows CIGE to find age appropriate curriculum and, in general, to direct the students to be competent with others.  It enriches the company by providing learning concepts and theory that are appropriate for students’ age and their interest. 
  4. Finally, discipline in business became the most noticeable portion of my project.  I have gained business knowledge, specifically ability to examine on business principles throughout my research.  The result is, I was able to expand various outcomes, such as creating web pages, planning the marketing strategies, and initiating an operational model.  Articulating my company’s marketing principles enabled me to acknowledge my customers’ demographics, behaviors, psychographics and expectations, as well as to examine competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.  It unfolded any context that might interfere with the growth of my business including the economy, technology shifts, and trends on education, political processes and climate changes.  Seeking collaborators who possibly attribute their strengths and powers to the success of my business model was carefully considered from the 5C’s model in marketing principles (Stever).  
     
    Economics/Business relates with the whole process of establishing my company and maintaining success of the business.  Economic conditions of surroundings in my company intimately correlate with the company’s opportunities and processes.  It includes individuals’ economic variables including their income, finance, and economic ideology, as well as international economic relations which are impacted by exchange rates and economic policies and relationships between the United States and South Korea (Repko, Szostak, & Buchberger, 2014)
Analysis of disciplinary insights
Conflicts between my disciplinary studies are explicit.  From the perspective of an educator’s view on creating curriculum and approaching with teaching strategy, I practiced deep patience and understanding on different levels of competency with the characteristics children add to the group.  Educators should be flexible and consider creating curricula depending on children’s ability.  Gardner stresses, each child has different interests and abilities, and as teachers, it is important to notice what children are interested and further to be developed for their success (Armstrong 17).  Educational interest can be expanded widely, some children’s strengths may not be on a language base, and they may struggle with intensive language exposure that the educational businesses pursue.  However, from a business administrator’s perspective, constructing a business model is intimately connected to solid profits which determine its sustainability.  Leading a successful business requires acknowledging what the customers expect, and understanding the social trends regarding similar models.  Here I notice a huge gap.  My customers, who are Korean parents, are competitive on their children’s educational success, and they are ambitious when they send their elementary child abroad by him/herself.  The goal for their child is a high level of language achievement in a short period.  They prefer their child to experience an intensive program.  For this reason, many competitors advertise an intensive curriculum, structured with busy schedules, to satisfy Korean parents who are used to competition.  My company also reads customers’ demand; however, CIGE tries to narrow the gap by practicing genuine education.
Integration

In my project, the disciplines of business and education are conflicted in cultural context.  Resulting success of the educational business model, I needed to interrogate each perspective and to seek common ground to establish which point would be negotiable enough to pursue educational belief and to complete business goals at the same time.  Also, as I realized that my business should be aware of what my customers expect from their children’s learning processes and the results from the company’s services, I needed to scrutinize the most effective way to approach their language learning as well as affluent cultural experience.  This way of thinking motivated me to research cultural studies including characteristics of Asian and American parents, with regard to their differences and similarities on educational perspective.  According to Hewlett, “Here in the United States, Asians make up only 5 percent of the population but fill three to nine times that number of undergraduate seats at the nation’s top universities” (Markus Introduction x).  While competition for high academic scores and competency in English and math is demanded by the majority of Korean parents and students, American parents support what their children are competent in and respect their choices.  This is part of the reason more American students are allowed to play sports, to join volunteering activities such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and to have part time jobs when they are in high school.  Acknowledging the differences between the two countries’ culture and that impact on children’s education was helpful to establish the company which customers are from different nation but practicing education philosophy in the United States. 
Throughout the whole semester I developed and refined my project, I truly thought about my major, Early Childhood Administration and my final project.  I realized this educational business model may be based more on a multidisciplinary than interdisciplinary approach.  Because I underestimated the disciplines correlation and the integration between business management and education, I thought there were not any conflicts existing or interacting between them in my study.   However, as I articulated my project, I found there is an explicit relation between the two studies.  My business will only be successful when I balance educational knowledge and business sense, and utilize negotiated policies to maximize the profit and to satisfy parents by selecting the best teaching approaches at the same time.  Thus I finally gained how to integrate the two disciplines by realizing the relation and confliction in my project, and I further investigated cultural studies and intercultural communication to address my personal biases. 
My understanding has been enlarged by taking an interdisciplinary approach.  My complex project intersects several disciplines: business, education, TESOL, and culture studies.  The epistemology of IS helped me conduct generated outcomes that reflected all these disciplines’ perspectives.  The project conveyed the structuring elements of creating a culturally responsive curriculum, selecting appropriate field trips, developing the website of a business, organizing marketing strategies, and completing an operating business processes; my knowledge has grew broadly from these related disciplines.  Accumulating information in various contexts encouraged me to interrogate different perspectives and opinions from each discipline, and to seek negotiated stage by finding common ground which I could apply for building my project.  I have realized that one discipline could not lead me to build a successful model to satisfy all the details that I developed.   The synthesis and synergy interwoven by multiple requirements and elements from each discipline and their relationship are essential to my new ideas and my global vision.


Works Cited



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Brown, D. H. (2001). Teaching by Principles. Longman.


Campbell. (2011). How to Develop a Professional Portfolio. Pearson.


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Hughes Aaron R., Interview, Multi-Cultural Education


Jacobs, H. H. (2010). Curriculum 21. ASCD.


Markus, H. R. (2013). Clash. Plume.


Repko, A. F., Szostak, R., & Buchberger, M. P. (2014). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. SAGE.


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Stinnett, B. (2005). Think Like Your Customer. The McGraw-Hill Companies.


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