Faculty Research Spotlight

Fall 2019 Library Lecture Series

Location: LI 148
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.
Dates: September 18 - November 13

Wednesday, September 18

Dr. Sarah Keller - The Syrian Refugee Storytelling Project

To enable MSUB students to learn from and engage with the international civic crisis of mass refugee exodus from war-torn nations, we developed a new study abroad program –launched in May 2019 -- in partnership with the Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in Bavaria, Germany. The purpose of the study abroad trip was to enable MSUB students to interview Syrian refugees living in Germany about their experiences with health care, human rights and acculturation. The stories were videotaped and are currently being edited into an online storytelling project, giving a global voice to relay the first-hand experiences of consenting refugees and cultural boundary conditions.

Bio: Dr. Sarah Keller came to MSU Billings in 2004 and is a Professor of Communication. Dr. Keller earned her bachelor’s degree in social sciences at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT; a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, and her PHD in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research interests focus on the use of public relations to promote community organizations and public health awareness. During her tenure at MSU Billings, Dr. Keller has received several awards. She received two Walter and Charlotte Pippenger Awards for Excellence in Innovation in 2007 and 2011; a Best Paper Award in 2010 from the Association of Marketing and Health Care Research; a Winston and Helen Cox Fellowship award for Faculty Excellence in 2007, and Gold, Silver, and Bronze Addy awards from the American Advertising Federation for the “Open Your Eyes” public service marketing campaign – just to name a few. She and her students have also worked on marketing campaigns for domestic violence, suicide prevention, and the Montana REAL ID public information program.


Wednesday, October 16

Mr. John Roberts - Cuban Connection

Professor John Roberts will present on his research and experiences in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. The music of these regions have affected the sound of music throughout the world, especially the music of the United States, as the dispersion of Cuban music throughout the Americas is directly related to the slave trade. Discussion will include styles of Danzon, Cha-Cha, Salsa, Rumba and more, and how they have been integrated in Western Music for the past 100+ years.

Bio: John Roberts is an Associate Professor in Music at MSU Billings who thrives on diversity and multi-cultural experiences. He has traveled to every continent (except Antarctica) and all 50 states in a musical capacity, and is passionate about sharing these experiences with community, students and peers. You may find him, at times, performing around town with his Afro-Latin Soul project.


Wednesday, November 13

Dr. Melanie Reaves - Our Creed, Our Community? Educators Navigating the Sociocultural Waters of Living Rural

Educators often find themselves working and living in communities that have different cultural elements (e.g., values, beliefs, practices) than their own. Such differences may be cause for tensions between educators and their work colleagues, students, and fellow community members. The goal of this study is to explore these tensions and possible transformations alongside of two focal participants who have recently moved to a rural community in Eastern Montana. Using art, writing, and conversation as data, we have found transitional identities to be a central element to these teachers’ experiences. The teachers are continually navigating who they were, are, and are becoming in confluence with their cultural milieu of interactions. A few key elements for their successful navigation of these transitions has been connection with each other and other like-minded members of the community, as well as how they have been positioned in their work communities as leaders and experts. Yet on the other hand, such positioning has made it more difficult to fully feel integrated at the same time. Collectively, we as researcher and participants have all seen the value in the use of the arts as a tool for cultural inquiry.

Bio: Dr. Melanie Reaves was an elementary teacher and literacy specialist for 15 years before pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a Literacy Education focus. After teaching at Northern Michigan University for 3 years, she joined MSUB’s College of Education two years ago. She teaches literacy methods and art integration courses for students who are getting elementary teaching degrees and licenses. My research focuses broadly on language/literacy and sociocultural processes within learning and teaching. More specifically I have researched the role of affect within literacy learning; students’ use of multiple modes of literacy; interest-based, purpose-driven literacy tutoring and instruction; and intersections between culture, teaching, and learning.  She uses mostly qualitative research methods, such as ethnography, case study, narrative inquiry, and phenomenology and more recently she has been using post-qualitative approaches that draw upon multiple lenses and practices, such as arts-based education research.