Two UST students chosen for Private College Scholars at the Capitol presentations Feb. 21

Two UST students chosen for Private College Scholars at the Capitol presentations Feb. 21

Two St. Thomas undergraduate students and their faculty mentors will participate in the fifth-annual Private College Scholars at the Capitol, a Feb. 21 poster session celebrating undergraduate research at Minnesota's private colleges and universities. The public is welcome.

Sponsored by the Bush Foundation Grant Program, Scott DeMuth (faculty collaborator is Dr. Lisa Waldner, of the UST College of Arts and Sciences Sociology Department) and Karley Downing (faculty collaborator is Dr. Joseph Fitzharris, of UST's College of Arts and Sciences History Department) will present their research. They were chosen based on the greatest number of votes for "best poster" that they received at the Sept. 27, 2007, "Inquiry at UST" poster session at St. Thomas. DeMuth and Downing also were UST Young Scholars in summer 2007.

Posters on a variety of academic disciplines will be on display from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Minnesota State Capitol rotunda during the 2008 legislative session.

Students from Minnesota's private colleges and their research mentors will meet with legislators, staff and visitors to tell them about their work and publicize their academic achievements, gain publicity for student-faculty collaborative research and educate the legislators about the scholarly work done on private college campuses.

This poster session is sponsored by the Minnesota Private College Council. Last year, 40 students presented 25 posters on topics ranging from social work to biology. Visit the PCSAC Web site for more information on the event.

Scott DeMuth's poster presentation
DeMuth will discuss his work on "The Minnehaha Free State: Collective Action Between Cross-Cultural Groups."
The research involves a case study of the occupation in Minnehaha Regional Park that has come to be known as the Minnehaha Free State. The Free State protest, from Aug. 10, 1998, to Dec. 11, 1999, attempted to stop the proposed reroute of Highway 55. It was one of the longest urban occupations within the United States. It was also one of the first successful coalitions between Earth First! and Native American groups.

The study focuses on the structure of the Free State and the interactions between the different groups (primarily neighborhood groups, the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, and Earth First!) that resisted the highway reroute. Data was collected through qualitative interviews with participants, supporters and observers involved in the Free State. Supplementary data was collected from published resources, including news articles, interviews and participant narratives.

Karley Downing's poster presentation
Downing's presentation is "The Neglected Soldier: The United States Colored Troops and Civil War American Society."

During the American Civil War, great changes occurred in society. Relations between North and South changed dramatically. The Constitutional union was threatened with destruction; and the document itself was changed significantly. The war was fought to save the union, but the status and future of the African Americans was a major cause and issue.

Blacks were freed in the South, and allowed entrance into the Union Army in 1863. However, racist ideas and actions plagued this politically charged atmosphere. This paradox brings up the question of how this environment affected the African Americans serving the Union in the U.S. Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.), the branch of the Army established for this race.

Through an analysis of Minnesota soldiers and the U.S.C.T. regiments in which they served, the conditions both races experienced were discovered. By studying several regiments of white soldiers from the same state and U.S.C.T. regiments that were led by men transferred from these white Minnesotan regiments, outside factors that could have altered the conditions the men were serving under were minimized. The remaining differences in the treatment and lifestyles of the two regiments are reflective of society's values during this time period.

Northern society was attempting to end slavery.  However, Northerners still were hampered by their racist misconceptions of African Americans. This contradiction resulted in the varying conditions the U.S. Colored Troops experienced during the Civil War. Black and white soldiers suffered greatly during the Civil War; however, because society suppressed the treatment of African Americans in several vital instances, the overall experience of the U.S.C.T. was inferior to that of the white Union soldiers.