Morgan Laner: Reflections on the 2018 Eastern Sociological Society conference

Morgan Laner participating in panel at the 2018 Eastern Sociological Society Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

While sociology is not the most well-known of fields, I was surprised at the level of informality at the conference this weekend. Of course, I knew it wouldn’t be as casual as a sustainability conference or one that highlights zero waste, but the ease of conversation throughout the weekend between presenters and audience members created an atmosphere of collaboration and support. The final session I attended exemplifies this; it ended up being myself and the three panelists. Rather than go through with their paper presentations, they asked my interests and we ended up having a casual conversation about zero waste, undergraduate teaching procedures and more.

The conference was not all rainbows and butterflies, though. Sociology often discusses the presence of inequalities and institutional challenges in society, so when I found myself contemplating the demographic breakdown of attendees I couldn’t help but see the irony. Many, if not most, of the academics presented themselves as white, highly educated individuals and I saw myself thinking of the white savior complex we learn about so often in class. Perhaps these intellectuals are excused because of the greater good that they bring to society through research and teaching.

The complex web of thought I developed during this experience is a greater representation of how I feel towards research in general. I think academic conferences like ESS are an amazing opportunity to network and learn but I also feel like it is only for the lifelong sociologists. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m one of those yet.

Morgan Laner Presents Thesis at the Eastern Sociological Society Conference

Morgan Laner Presenting Poster of her Honors Thesis at Eastern Sociological Society conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

Today, Saturday, February 24, 2018, was the second of my two full days at the Eastern Sociological Society conference in Baltimore, which was my first academic conference experience and has challenged my views of academia, sociological studies, and the concept of research as a profession. For now, however, I will mention the kinds of sessions I have attended so far. While ESS sessions cover a variety of topics, I wanted my experiences to have some sort of environmental commonality, considering that is my major and the career path I plan to pursue. Therefore, many of the sessions I attended looked at food systems and urban development research that I extrapolated to my interest in urban planning and city design. I won’t lie, some of the paper presentations I attended were dull, monotonous, and unengaging. Fortunately most were followed by a crazy passionate researcher; some of the most engaging presentations I heard were on random topics like the internationalization of the furniture market in a small town or the impact of a potbellied pig on public sociology and local government. I was surprised at the different degrees of seriousness each presenter had, as some took the conference as an opportunity to brag about their studies while others focused on engaging undergraduates in their research.

I spent an hour and a half as part of an undergraduate poster session presenting my thesis on the predictors of positive environmental behavior for undergraduate students. This is where I had the most fun so far; I discussed and received feedback on my first major research project with other scholars as well as mingle with other undergraduates going through similar experiences. I am excited to see how the rest of the conference goes and what I will learn!


Networking and Reflecting at the Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention

Traditional New Orleans cuisine

For any discipline, conferences are a place to present months of research and hard work to colleagues from across the nation. They can also be opportunities to meet other members of your field, network, and explore a new city. I only attended one day of the conference, and after presenting my paper, I spoke with several other historians who also studied World War II, including one woman who wrote her thesis on the infamous 46th Guards Bomber Regiment in the Russian air force, known by the Germans as the “night witches.” I also talked to a senior-year history student from Texas A&M, who studied the American Air Force in World War II. Not only did I learn a bit about the evolution of the various airborne divisions in the U.S. Air Force, but he also recommended several restaurants and local spots to my roommate and me.

Objects in World War II Museum

WW II Museum artifacts

We spent the remainder of the night and the next day exploring New Orleans. I was able to try out the local cuisine, including beignets at the famous Café du Monde,
which is over a century old. Since a history conference was the focal point of this trip, I found it most fitting that we visit the National World War II Museum. The museum is
quite large, taking up two separate buildings and encompassing multiple aspects of the war. First, my roommate and I walked through an exhibit about the invasion of Normandy. After, we ventured into the second building, where we had the option of either taking the “Road to Berlin” or the “Road to Tokyo,” which explored the war in Europe and the Pacific, respectively.  Because I study mostly the European aspects of the war, we only walked through the first. I found it to be a fairly normal
immersive experience with just enough information to be educational without becoming overwhelming. My favorite parts were those that displayed the personal items of soldiers. They did not have much regarding the Red Army or the women that I study, but I did see some uniforms for American nurses.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and education experience in more ways than one. I definitely plan on returning to New Orleans, if not on business, then certainly for pleasure.

Anna Wenzel Presents Research at Phi Alpha Theta Biennial Convention

The morning of the conference

I attended the Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honor Society) Biennial Convention on Wednesday, January 4th. I presented a paper I had written the previous spring semester for an upper-level history class about World War II. The paper focused on the political, ideological, and military factors that allowed for Soviet women to enlist and fight as combatants in the Red Army during the Second World War. Phi Alpha
Theta placed me on a panel about women in World War II, where the other presenter was a student from West Chester University who was presenting on a similar topic: the experiences of Soviet women in the Eastern Front. I was originally concerned about presenting alongside someone with a similar paper—especially since I
was to go second—but our papers were different enough that we did not repeat too
much information. In fact, I think having closely-related topics led to a far more focused question and discussion period, and allowed the panel chair to provide us with specific critiques.

Natasha James: Conference Reflection

(01/06/2018) Now that the conference has ended I have had some time to reflect on my experience. I had the pleasure of spending two lovely days in Hawaii while attending the Hawaii University Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education Conference. During this time I gave my first presentation in front of professionals on a research paper I wrote during my senior year. The paper focused on an underlying topic I saw throughout many of my philosophy classes through my years studying. This concept was the issue that morals fluctuate and can cause immoral acts to take place due to this fluctuation. This being my first scholarly conference I most certainly learned a lot of new skills and had a new experience that I hope to have more of in the future. Giving my speech made me get out of my comfort zone, and learn how to be professional in presenting my work as well as engaging with other professionals. I will use these skills and connections I made to further my future now that I have graduated from college. During the two days I was able to attend many interesting sessions and learn information that I would have never known about. Through this learning I was able to connect these ideas that were presented with concepts that I had learned in the past, which was an exciting experience. Going to this conference not only allowed me to become more professional, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn so many new things in various disciplines I am so grateful that I got to experience a professional conference and present my research. It was overall a very humbling and crucial experience to top off my undergraduate college career.

Hannah Gonzalez: Reflection after Feminist Camp NYC

Going into Feminist Camp, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I was excited and somewhat overwhelmed with the large list of activities we would be doing and places we would be going in such a short period of time, all of which grabbed my attention in some form. Somehow, Feminist Camp impacted me more than I ever thought it would. From the community of the camp overall to the new relationships with campers to the multitude of networking possibilities I received, I felt that the camp was very beneficial to my education.

All campers met with Feminist Camp alumni at Ceres Gallery for an exhibition titled Women Under Siege.

As a freshman, I feel especially grateful for the opportunity to absorb everything from every meeting we had. While a lot of the campers were upperclassmen, I was one of the youngest of the entire group and was able to explore so many different opportunities in the feminist field. Some people were interested in one day much more over the others, but I was eager to experience everything I could and just try new things. Every day was so different than the one before it that everyone was completely infatuated with a different topic at some point. While I was not particularly interested in philanthropy from the start, for example, I gained a newfound love and appreciation for it. By sitting in on a few court cases in Queens, I also discovered a new interest in law and feminism, and how the two relate or could be more closely related.
I have been to New York City plenty of times before, but Feminist Camp has given me a new look at a place that seemed out of reach for me other than as a tourist destination. While I have studied some feminist theory in class already, I was able to put my words to action and reality for the week. I feel that this was necessary to do during Intersession as it is great to already be networking and getting real life experience that I would not get anywhere else.

(One of many city shots, this one outside of the office for Bust Magazine.)

Net Impact Conference – Robert Salmeron Blogs

Blog Post #1

My first day attending the Net Impact conference in San Jose, California was absolutely eye opening. From the beginning we heard from incredible business professionals from all different industries. Over 2,500 people attended the conference from undergraduate/graduate students to current business professionals. The conference had a mission of creating a space to inspire everyone to create change, innovate and explore new concepts. One of the most interest concepts that I encountered was the idea of two winners of the 2013 Hult Prize. The two winners were two Canadian entrepreneurs who started the idea of a farming industry that involved the cultivation of insects for food. The insects would then be used as a way of combatting hunger in many countries that have already adopted the consumption of insects in their diets. An idea like this absolutely astounded me. Something so simple yet filled with potential of creating incredible impact on the lives of millions. My first day in San Jose was outstanding, as the energy of the Silicon Valley seemed to provide me with innovative energy. Another speaker that really stood out to me was the Founder of Kiva, Premal Shah. A young man with a brilliant idea has created so many drastic changes in the world. Currently I have invested a small $50 into a Kiva account. If only 1,000,000 other people in this country could make a small donation the impact would be incredible.

Blog Post #2

My second day at the conference left me with various thoughts of how I could act upon what I have learned at my time in Silicon Valley. After sitting through a speaker session with the CEO and Founder of AirBnB something came to me. This world is filled with so much opportunity how do we make sure every human being is capable of being successful. I have reservations about companies like Kiva who invest their funds into microenterprises, but do not educate in financial management or business principles. Upon deciding this was a fault in the system, I decided to take this idea and run with it. How do we educate others to be financially literate? Energized by Silicon Valley I decided to do something innovative, fresh, and technologically savy. A website dedicated to the education of families in how to manage their money. Having grown up in a lower middle class family and seeing my family struggle because of a lack of financial education inspired me to want to educate others on basis financial principles. At this point in the conference I had been sufficiently inspired by the speeches of great people like Blake Mycoskie of Toms, Caryl Stern of UNICEF and Nancy Lublin of I wanted to turn my education into action. I plan on pursuing my plan of developing a business model for an app or website committed to teaching financial literacy in an interactive way. Although financial literacy is not unique, I hope to find a way to inspire students and families to want to learn about taking care of their money, their families and being financial stable.

National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing – Annamarie Carlson Blog 1

One of the most fascinating sessions I attended was “Author v. Audience: Whose Needs are we Addressing?”. Based on research by two undergraduates from Grand Valley State University, the session applied Linda Flower’s theory on reader-based and writer-based prose to writing consultant questioning strategies.

According to Flower, all writers start out writing for themselves—writer-based prose—and have to rewrite and mentally shift their audience in order to write well with their audience in mind, creating reader-based prose. This is a process that all writers must go through. I was familiar with Flower’s work because I read her article in Language Studies and Intro to Professional Writing, and I researched the educational theories behind her ideas in Educational Psychology.

Fisher and Worm, the two students running the session, renamed “writer-based prose” to “author-based prose” and “reader-based prose” to “audience-based prose.” They then divided these two ideas into four overall questioning categories typically used by writing consultants: author-based content, audience-based content, author-based form, and audience-based form.

Author-Based Content

Audience-Based Content

Author-Based Form


Audience-Based Form

After noting where every question at every session at their writing center fell on this spectrum, they found a few patterns. First, most consultants seemed to start out asking author-based content questions (What do you want to write about?) and then shifted into audience-based form questions or comments (You need a comma here.). Along with this general shift, consultants often started out with facilitative discussion questions before shifting into directive statements.

During the discussion that followed their presentation, we realized that, ideally, most consultations will go through all four-stages, starting with author-based content, then audience-based content, then author-based form, and finally audience-based form (forming a “Z” on the above chart). Shorter sessions often jump from start to finish due to limited time or resources.

By forcing consultants to think about their questioning processes, we are forcing ourselves to step back and analyze what our clients may lose by us only focusing on certain types of questioning strategies. The session allowed me to start asking my clients different types of questions and created a great discussion at our next Writing Consulting team meeting as well.