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Welcome to the 2nd issue of SPARK !

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 starkly black tree, individual branches small and large reaching out beyond the frame—an old tree aspiring above and beyond. Embedded in the center of the image, a bold, not perfectly round circle, colored with different shades of blue, with the brush strokes still visible. Bristlecone pines are ancient, wise trees. They thrive and survive in harsh environments where other trees might wither. As bristlecone pines mature, they bend and twist, taking on almost human-like forms. In this way, they have lived for centuries and millennia, vital to the health of the forest ecosystems where they grow. 

The cover for our second issue, titled Bristlecones Turn Inwards to Grow, is by the Community of Scholars Program (COSP) Scholar, Emily Mitamura. Bristlecone pines reflect our COSP community where embodied resilience and fierce beauty intertwine to produce vibrant scholarship. Rooted in SPARK’s values of social justice, community building, innovation, creativity, and public scholarship, Mitamura’s piece foregrounds the deep self reflection, inner growth, and lived experiences our contributors reveal in their pieces. 

In This Issue

I’ll Meet You Where You Are: Research During a Pandemic

Growing up in Bangladesh, private tutoring was a part of my educational experience from an early age. From my peers to seniors in school, it seemed everyone was doing it, including myself. In Bangladesh, 40% of primary students and 68% of secondary students were estimated to be engaged in tutoring in 2008, rising to over 80% of students in grade 10

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TRUTH: PART I

Towards Recognition and University-Tribal Healing (TRUTH)

The TRUTH Project is a grassroots collaboration between the 11 recognized Tribal Nations within the geographic boundaries of Minnesota, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC), and the Office of American Indian and Tribal Nations Relations at the University of Minnesota.

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TRUTH: PART II

We are Anishinaabikwewag, Ojibwe women. We are mothers, sisters, daughters, aunties. We are also graduate students at a land grant institution that stole so much from Native Americans—from our own and many other Native nations—through ethnic cleansing, land expropriation, resource extraction, cultural theft, grave robbery, and research.

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The Practice of Nonviolent Editing

Academia—the academy—is extractive. A couple months ago on a Zoom call with a prominent pedagogy journal, an editor told me my original piece was great, and then proceeded to list all the edits I would need to make in order for my piece to be published. I was taken aback as this white editor told me what needed to be said and claimed in a piece on Black political teaching.

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Poems in Black Water Ecologies

The poems in this booklet are largely inspired by my experiences during the spring and summer of 2021. During these months, I was a Water Protector in the Stop Line 3 Movement. This is an Indigenous-led movement resisting the expansion of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Anishinaabe lands and treaty territories of Northern Minnesota. All the people in this movement, both Native and non-Native, have given me deep lessons about loving Water, who is Nibi in Ojibwe and Mni/Mini in Dakota.

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Some Kind of Monster 

As I am midway through my first year as an MBA student, I pause to reflect on my individual journey as a military servicemember and as a Polynesian (of Samoan and Tongan descent) thousands of miles away from home. I struggle to find what innate virtue I possess that keeps me moving through this life constantly in flux, challenging the frame in which I picture the world. 

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This page is a large illustration of several planets and moons-- in the front, and at the bottom left, is Venus. Tucked partially behind Venus is Earth, and slightly behind the Earth is Mars. In the center are three of Jupiter's moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, a dark colored moon with light speckles. At the top of the page, from left to right, are the yellow moon Titan, the blue-grey moon Tritan and the small white moon, Enceladus. The satellite flies near the top left of the page, saying "Our tour is over, but there's so much we didn't get to see!” “Here are most of the major targets of astrobiology in our solar system!" A note at the bottom left reads: "Visit astrobiology.nasa.gov to learn more!"

Astrobiological Analogues

Take a tour of the solar system without leaving Earth! In the past decade, there’s been an increased interest in the study of life on other worlds: the study of astrobiology. Why? Because, if we find life outside of life on Earth, it would revolutionize theories about how life originated, how it spread and how it continues to spread.

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