HPU Faculty Recognized for Research and Innovation

(Last Updated On: February 24, 2017)

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 24, 2017 – Members of the High Point University community frequently conduct, publish and share research and creative works in a variety of ways. Below is a recap of research initiatives from the past month.

Communication Professor Presents Keynote Address at International Conference

Katherine Fowkes

Dr. Kate Fowkes

Dr. Kate Fowkes, professor of media and popular culture studies in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication at HPU, gave the opening keynote speech at an international conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The Messengers from the Stars conference, hosted by the University of Lisbon, focused on science fiction and fantasy in film and literature. Fowkes’ talk, “A Deal with the Devil?: Zombies vs. Tricksters as Cinematic Magic,” discussed the effects film can have on people’s imagination and their concept of what is possible. The talk was followed by a Q&A session with the audience, which consisted of conference-goers, paper presenters and two notable speakers from the U.K., award-winning science fiction author Ken MacLeod and noted film scholar Andrew Butler.

“Movies can function as ‘zombies,’ reinforcing clichéd ideas and stereotypes, but cinema can also operate as a ‘trickster,’ helping us re-imagine ourselves and our world,” says Fowkes, who regularly teaches these concepts in three of her classes at HPU. “Just as the role of a trickster in a movie is to serve as an antidote to a zombie by breathing new life into lifeless people and situations, ‘fantastic’ cinema helps us re-ignite our imagination and what we believe is possible or impossible in the real world.”

 Journal Selects Political Science Professor’s Article as One of the Best of the Year

Dr. Sam Whitt, assistant professor of political science at HPU, was one of two runners-up for the Nils Petter Gleditsch JPR Article of the Year Award by the Journal of Peace Research. His article, “The Evolution of Prosociality and Parochialism After Violence,” appeared in the journal in 2016. It details the results of behavioral experiments assessing how people of different ethnicities treat one another in Bosnia. By replicating an experiment he conducted for his dissertation, Whitt and co-author Vera Mironova of the University of Maryland found that people in Bosnia have become more accepting of ethnic out-groups, but there is still a gap in how in-groups and out-groups are being treated, which raises concerns about long-term ethnic tensions in the country.

“It’s great to be published in JPR, but I was also honored for my article to be considered as one of the best of the year,” says Whitt.

Anthropology Professor Publishes Article on the Tea Party and American Politics

William Westermeyer

Dr. Bill Westermeyer

Dr. Bill Westermeyer, visiting assistant professor of anthropology, published an article about the Tea Party to Sapiens, a website that brings anthropology research to the public, on Feb. 17. Based on ethnographic research Westermeyer conducted in 2010-2011, the article discusses the Tea Party’s impact on local government in small towns in North Carolina through their routine activism. It also considers the movement’s impact on national politics and relationship with President Donald Trump.

“The local Tea Party groups I studied contextualized and acted on widely circulating conservative discourses in their own local arenas and in their own ways with few or no resources—and little direction—from outside organizations,” Westermeyer says in the article. “In an era in which social media and the internet are rightly seen as primary sites of political struggle, these groups illustrate the continued importance of local, face-to-face political organizations in the development of effective activism and purposeful political identities.”

 At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.® HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with more than 4,800 undergraduate and graduate students. It is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report for Best Regional Colleges in the South and No. 1 for Most Innovative Regional Colleges in the South. HPU was named the No. 4 private school in N.C. for the best return on investment, and it is a 2016-2017 College of Distinction. The university offers 48 undergraduate majors, 51 undergraduate minors and 13 graduate degree programs. It is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the Web at