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April 25, 2012

Business students to present research findings at Annual UW System Symposium

12th Annual UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative ActivityUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire business economics students Drew R. Christensen, a senior from Wausau, WI and Stephen Fisher, a junior from Maple Grove, MN, are two of the 13 UW-Eau Claire students presenting their research at the 12th Annual UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, April 27, 2012 at UW-Parkside. Dr. Eric Jamelske, Department of Economics, is their faculty mentor.

Students at the symposium will present their research and creative ideas through posters, oral presentations, gallery exhibits and performances. Approximately 300 students, faculty mentors, and guests from throughout Wisconsin and the UW System will be attending the event.

Christensen and his colleagues will present the results of the research they conducted to assess college student attitudes regarding climate change and global warming. Their first study, “Comparing Survey Results to Assess Climate Change/Global Warming Awareness, Perceptions and Beliefs of College Students in the United States and China”, found that Chinese students “report a significantly greater awareness about climate change/global warming” than US students. US students “are much less convinced of the general agreement among qualified climate scientists that human induced CC/GW is happening”.  

Using a subset of their original data, Christensen and his fellow researchers examined the impact of political ideologies on US student attitudes regarding climate change/global warming. In their second study, “Comparing Survey Results to Assess Political Differences in Relation to Climate Change/Global Warming Awareness, Perceptions and Beliefs of College Students in the United States”, the UW-Eau Claire researchers found that student attitudes differed significantly by political beliefs. The team concluded that better understanding of the “wedge between various segments of the political and CC/GW perceptual landscape” will “help pave the way towards more effective policies.”

Stephen Fisher and his collaborative research team, “The Impact of the USDA Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program on Children’s Consumption and Other Related Behaviors”, investigated the impact of the Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program on fruit and vegetable consumption and other related behaviors among Wisconsin 4th and 5th grade students. The student research team found “positive effects on both student intake and other behaviors related to eating fruit and vegetables”.

For more information about student-faculty collaborative research, contact Dr. Karen Havholm, assistant vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs and director of the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration, at havholkg@uwec.edu or 715-836-3405.

Comparing Survey Results to Assess Climate Change/Global Warming Awareness, Perceptions and Beliefs of College Students in the United States and China

Student Authors: Brittany Whited, Chris Brown, Drew Christensen, Elora Leene, Dan Putman
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Eric Jamelske, Department of Economics

Climate Change (CC), a phenomenon entailing warming average global temperatures (global warming, GW) is an important, divisive national and international policy issue. Despite overwhelming scientific consensus and corresponding warnings, many people including policy makers still disagree about the reality of CC/GW and the degree to which human activities are responsible. 

We conducted surveys examining what US (n=826) and Chinese (n=776) college students think about this important topic. College students are of interest because they represent the next generation of decision-makers. The U.S. and China are of interest because they are disproportionately responsible for world CO2 emissions, however they are also different in several ways. U.S. emissions per capita are nearly four times China’s, while Chinese emissions per $ of GDP are nearly twice that of the U.S. In addition, the U.S. ranks among the world leaders in per capita GDP, while China is a developing country with significant poverty, yet the Chinese economy has grown substantially over the last two decades. 

This project provides insight into the awareness, perceptions and beliefs of young adults in these two countries comparing responses to a variety of questions. On average, Chinese students report a significantly greater awareness about CC/GW. In particular, U.S. students are much less convinced of the general agreement among qualified climate scientists that human induced CC/GW is happening. These results are interesting and could have meaningful implications for future national and international CC/GW policies.

Comparing Survey Results to Assess Political Differences in Relation to Climate Change/Global Warming Awareness, Perceptions and Beliefs of College Students in the United States

Student Authors: Dan Putman, Chris Brown, Drew Christensen, Elora Leene, Brittany Whited
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Eric Jamelske, Department of Economics 

Climate Change (CC), a phenomenon entailing warming average global temperatures (global warming, GW) is an important, divisive national and international policy issue. Despite overwhelming scientific consensus and corresponding warnings, many people including policy makers still disagree about the reality of CC/GW and the degree to which human activities are responsible. 

We conducted surveys examining what US (n=826) and Chinese (n=776) college students think about this important topic. The subset of this data related to the U.S. students is particularly interesting when considering the relationship between political ideology and attitudes towards CC/GW. Within the U.S. sample there are significant differences in the political ideologies (on a scale ranging from conservative to liberal) as well as significant differences in the awareness, perceptions and beliefs of students in relation to CC/GW. 

In this project we examine this relationship between the political ideologies of U.S. college students and their CC/GW attitudes. Through this, we are able to gain insights into the inability of the U.S. to come to a consensus regarding CC/GW, in particular due to the significant wedge between various segments of the political and CC/GW perceptual landscape. Further understanding of this wedge will elucidate current problems in developing CC/GW policy in both the international and intra-national realm. Understanding these problems will help pave the way towards more effective policies. 

The Impact of the USDA Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program on Children’s Consumption and Other Related Behaviors

Student Authors: Lainee Hoffman, Judy Dickinson, Stephen Fisher, Stephanie Mabrey
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Eric Jamelske, Department of Economics 

Most children in the U.S. consume less than recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables. Experts and advocates recognize the school environment as a fundamental setting for providing children access to nutritious food and opportunities to learn about the importance of healthy eating. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiated its Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) in 2002 as part of a broad effort to address poor nutrition and rising obesity rates among children. The research literature examining the effectiveness of the FFVP is small and developing. Given the sizeable resources committed to funding the FFVP, more information is needed to understand the successes, limitations, and potential in meeting its stated goals. 

In this study, we investigate the impact of the 2009-10 FFVP on intake and other behaviors related to fruit and vegetable consumption among Wisconsin 4th and 5th grade students. Consumption of fruit and vegetables served through the FFVP was recorded by teachers over 95 days. Analyses of other behaviors related to fruit and vegetable consumption compared pretest and posttest data from an 8 item survey between program and control students. We find positive effects on both student intake and other behaviors related to eating fruit and vegetables.

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