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UCO Researchers Illustrate Ways To Improve OKC Public Transportation In 'PhotoVoice' Exhibit

May 21, 2013

Media Contact: Stephanie Turner, Coordinator Public Relations and Communications, University of Central Oklahoma College of Education and Professional Studies, 405-974-5408,


University of Central Oklahoma researchers offer unique insight into the functions and dysfunctions of Oklahoma City’s public transportation system from those who use it each day in the exhibit “Perspectives: Oklahoma City METRO Transit Commuter Input on Transportation,” on display for one evening only, 5-8 p.m., Thursday, May 30 at the Istvan Gallery, 1218 N. Western Ave. in Oklahoma City.    

The exhibit includes photos and narratives captured by eight daily riders of the Oklahoma City METRO Transit.  The eight were each given a digital camera by a team of UCO researchers and asked to take photos for one week of “what is and isn’t working” in public transportation.  By using PhotoVoice, a participatory photography methodology, photos are further illustrated with narrative captions to provide deeper understanding of positive elements of the transit system, along with the issues that need improvement. 

“This project is aimed at improving the public transportation experience of patrons, specifically through providing praise and suggestions for improvement of the services and policies of those involved in public transportation,” said Sara L. Cole, Ph.D., associate professor of the Community/ Public Health program.  

The research team consists of Community/ Public Health students Brie Brumfield and Haleigh Larkin, along with Cole and Sunshine Cowan, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of the Community/ Public Health program.   The research group, along with other community stakeholders, hopes to further the community discussion with key leaders regarding the importance of public transportation in the metro area, as well as provide community members who are involved in the Oklahoma City transportation system a voice in the political process.

“As a metropolitan university, UCO students and faculty are able to apply public health models and frameworks to address community needs,” said Cowan.  “It is important that all voices are heard, especially populations most impacted by policy change.  Through the PhotoVoice model, city planners and policy makers can gain insight from members of the community who are most connected to the issue at hand and who may otherwise go unheard.”

The event is free of charge and open to the public. Limited parking is available in the gallery lot.  Additional parking is located just west of the gallery on 11th Street and to the south in the grass lot on Western. 

The university thanks Istvan Gallery for donating space for the showing, as well as Dr. Ed Shadid, Oklahoma City councilman, and Dr. Qualls Stevens for their support with catering from Mediterranean Imports and Deli.

For more information, contact Cowan at 405-974-5238.