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Start Date

April 2021

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Department

Geography-Anthropology

Faculty Mentor

Sarah Lockridge, PhD

Keywords

Maine Seeds of Peace, PSP, demographic representation

Abstract

This ethnographic study of the Maine Seeds of Peace (MSoP): Paradigm Shifter Program (PSP) investigates how the PSP supports Maine youth to become social justice leaders, subsequently reducing prejudice in Maine. Established literature suggests that society is dominated by cultural hegemony, whereby a stratified social order is instilled. Thus, the oppressed subconsciously internalize the beliefs of elites, accepting their assumed inferiority as natural. Countering this requires awareness through facilitated communication and physical contact between different social groups, which in turn can reduce prejudice given the right conditions. This study specifically focuses on how PSP activities encourage ideological change and interpersonal contact in order to reduce individual and societal prejudice. By interviewing 12 former Paradigm Shifters from varying demographics, this study examines how the PSP has impacted them. Impact is identified by two major outcomes at the individual level: 1) ideological change around preconceived notions of prejudice, and 2) the implementation of ethical leadership skills in Maine youth as indicated by an active role in anti-prejudice dialogue sessions in their communities. Analyzed demographics include race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, education, and rural/urban hometown. Preliminary findings reveal that after participation in the PSP, the following outcomes occur at the individual level: 1) insight and compassion for youth outside of one’s social identity, and 2) compassion for one’s self or one’s own social identity. Future studies conducted to understand the impact of the PSP on participants should diversify and increase the demographic representation of those interviewed.

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Shifting the Paradigm: Youth Leadership at Maine Seeds of Peace - transcript

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Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

Shifting the Paradigm: Youth Leadership at Maine Seeds of Peace

This ethnographic study of the Maine Seeds of Peace (MSoP): Paradigm Shifter Program (PSP) investigates how the PSP supports Maine youth to become social justice leaders, subsequently reducing prejudice in Maine. Established literature suggests that society is dominated by cultural hegemony, whereby a stratified social order is instilled. Thus, the oppressed subconsciously internalize the beliefs of elites, accepting their assumed inferiority as natural. Countering this requires awareness through facilitated communication and physical contact between different social groups, which in turn can reduce prejudice given the right conditions. This study specifically focuses on how PSP activities encourage ideological change and interpersonal contact in order to reduce individual and societal prejudice. By interviewing 12 former Paradigm Shifters from varying demographics, this study examines how the PSP has impacted them. Impact is identified by two major outcomes at the individual level: 1) ideological change around preconceived notions of prejudice, and 2) the implementation of ethical leadership skills in Maine youth as indicated by an active role in anti-prejudice dialogue sessions in their communities. Analyzed demographics include race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, education, and rural/urban hometown. Preliminary findings reveal that after participation in the PSP, the following outcomes occur at the individual level: 1) insight and compassion for youth outside of one’s social identity, and 2) compassion for one’s self or one’s own social identity. Future studies conducted to understand the impact of the PSP on participants should diversify and increase the demographic representation of those interviewed.

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