Three MPS in Civic Engagement students presented their capstone projects in December 2022. Here is a brief recap of their thoughtful, in-depth work.

Holistic Health Care

Tia Phan’s research focused on the importance of traditional healing practices, herbs, and medicines in the Native American community. Tia worked with the Native American Community Clinic (NACC) in South Minneapolis to see how they incorporate these practices into their business operations.

Tia looked into the effects of historical trauma on health disparities and how traditional healing practices could be useful. NACC, which has a holistic approach to health care, is working with Blue Cross Blue Shield to get spiritual care into the health insurance copay system.

Tia, who minored in health equity through the School of Public Health, has the following recommendations: adding traditional healing components to more clinics; creating a formal referral network for Western clinics looking to refer patients for spiritual services; and establishing a database of traditional and spiritual services in a geographic area.

“If context-ionaries existed, how might they be used to increase civic engagement?”

Nan Kafka explored this idea by researching theories from linguists, anthropologists, community psychologists, educators, planners, philosophers, and “just plain folk.” She wondered what there might be about the term “civic engagement” that encourages or discourages participation. What does “civic” mean? There is no common definition of civic or any of the words that are usually associated with it. To some, the word civic doesn't really resonate. In addition, what if some of the words we use are exclusionary, like citizen or community? What if you aren’t a citizen or don’t belong to a community?

We all have our own “context-ionary,” a framework in which we understand words and the world that differs from everyone else’s. One’s “context-ionary” might include language, skills and knowledge, friends and family, values and traditions, privilege, work, past experiences, etc. Dictionaries provide definitions of words, but words have no meaning without context.

Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Public School: Esports Gaming with Gamers for Peace

The overall objective of Ken Shain’s project is to make a contribution toward building a sustainable movement for peace within the high school electronic gaming (esports) community and counter the influence of military recruiters, who rely on the trend toward war and violence in our culture to sign up student gamers to military service.

Ken’s immediate goals include helping schools in the Minneapolis Public School District (MPS) develop esports programs by building interest in the benefits of guided, peaceful, structured play. He is partnering with Veterans for Peace’s (VFP) Gamers for Peace initiative and Wisdom Gaming on this capstone. It will act as the planning and organizational vehicle for this project, with Ken serving as its organizer and manager.

So far, four new schools have begun developing teams, one school was revitalized under new leadership, and three new veterans joined VFP. Most importantly, MPS is now aware of the potential of esports, and the leadership of VFP has begun watching Minneapolis as an example.