Highlights from BYU Colleges: Identifying and eradicating racism in books, researchers create hybrid quinoa crops


College of Humanities

Books and movies that perpetuate stereotypes of people of color are harmful to that community, especially kids. BYU adjunct professor Madeleine Dresden encourages writers to be aware of and understand their biases and how they can affect representation of other races. (BYU College of Humanities)

Adjunct English professor Madeleine Dresden gave a presentation at the 2021 Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association Conference on Oct. 9. Her lecture highlighted the importance of representation for people of color and identifying the tropes and stereotypes present in books and media.

She asked writers to consider the impression and impact their writing has and could have on minority readers. To achieve this, she encouraged them to “read diverse books.”

“If you want to tell a diverse story, read at least a hundred books that come from that perspective,” Dresden said.

Dresden said she firmly believes in writing as a powerful tool to community and changing the culture in order to “empower those who still need to tell their stories.”

Marriott School of Business

A new experience design management class titled Current Trends and Opportunities in the Experience Economy, explores the reasons why experimental businesses such as candle-making shops, hatchet throwing companies and escape rooms find success in places like Provo.

“In one unit, we study Universal Studios’ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme parks,” said Case Lawrence, an EXDM adjunct professor who teaches the class.

This class focuses on the different business models and trends behind companies from amusement parks to traveling events to concerts. Lawrence said one of the class’s assignments is to come up with an experimental business idea.

“I personally review all of these projects and give feedback, and several projects from last semester are currently being developed into real businesses,” Lawrence said.

College of Life Sciences

BYU plant and wildlife Sciences professor Rick Jellen shows BYU student Lauren Young different varieties of crops based on the sequenced quinoa. These crops will help farming communities be able to grow food in spite of inconvenient weather conditions. (BYU College of Life Sciences)

After studying and sequencing the genome of quinoa, BYU researchers are starting to introduce hybrids of the crop to developing nations.

Quinoa is a food rich in protein, and it can grow in very dry conditions. These qualities make it so that farmers can use it as a reliable food source, especially in developing nations struggling to grow food during droughts.

“Having a crop like quinoa would enable them to have a stable food source where they’re not worrying year-to-year if they’ll have food on the table every day,” BYU student researcher Lauren Young said.

This research has resulted in a project involving trips to Morocco where BYU students and professors introduced quinoa to farmers.

“In Morocco, you see a lot of rural people struggling, especially in years where there’s such unpredictable drought,” Young said. “It’s hard to hear about the struggles people are having, yet it’s something we can fix.”

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