Kate Knight Presenting Research at 10th Annual Human Development Conference at Univeristy of Notre Dame
In honor of the Human Development Conference’s ten year anniversary, this year’s theme was “Decades of Development: Contextualizing the Past, Envisioning the Future”. This conference afforded me my first real exposure to international development studies, a field that analyzes the dynamics between the developed and developing worlds and the debate within individual countries including, among other topics, poverty, inequality, health, education, gender, and environment.
While I felt proud to present my own work this weekend, it was even more of a privilege to meet and hear the ideas of other undergraduate students who had conducted research all around the globe. I was inspired by the trials and tribulations of my fellow peers, their hard-earned and enhanced cultural competencies, and the common desire we shared to learn more about the developing world. From the livelihood and dignity of squatters in Kathmandu, Nepal, to the socioeconomic status symbol of using Pampers diapers rather than nappies in Zanzibar, Tanzania, this weekend challenged me to brainstorm solutions to some of the world’s larger development obstacles. At the same time, hearing the stories of so many other student’s time abroad reminded me the importance of community engagement. I am proud to attend a higher education facility such as Rollins that is constantly reminding me of my position in the world. Though so many of us might think we are ready to act on these big ideas that we have, the first step should be deep integration within the communities we hope to serve alongside. The importance of listening and thinking before acting should not be undervalued.
Connections, connections, connections! Whether they were personal, intellectual, or emotional, connections have been the major theme of the Human Development Conference for me thus far. The first day of the conference started off with a meet- and-greet lunch for any students who had studied abroad and conducted research with SIT (the School for International Training). Within thirty minutes, I had met a handful of people who had led similar journeys to my own. From talking with two girls who had traveled to Jaipur, India and Zanzibar, Tanzania (both places where I’d lived or studied in the past) for their research, to meeting someone who had been on the same program that I had in Jordan, the conversation was fruitful and thought provoking. There is something inherently special about meeting people who share my wanderlust bug, who understand that untiring lust to see and learn more about the world. I met amazing students with amazing stories from all around the country, each of who had something new to teach me. I quickly came to appreciate SIT so much more, as it was affording me an endless network of future connections. What is more, my fellow SIT alum showed earnest support and interest in my presentation. They challenged me with stimulating questions on the Christian Zionist Lobby and the conflict in Israel-Palestine. Though my research topic can sometimes seem to controversial to discuss in a public forum, I felt extremely privileged to be surrounded by peers that encouraged uncomfortable conversations and healthy debate.
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 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!
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.
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.
(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.
Today, January 4, 2018, is my first day at the Hawaii University Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education Conference. I gave my presentation in the first session of the day. In my session there were two other professors from California and Canada presenting. They had extremely interesting research on topics such as trauma and abuse victims and dogs being sources of good therapy and motivation. Giving my presentation was a great new experience, from which I learnt a lot. Before giving my presentation, I had to learn how to reconstruct and shorten my paper so that I could present it within the time, and still make my argument strong and compelling. Practicing how to annunciate and read clearly, were skills that I further refined through preparing for this speech. Today when I gave my speech I learned how to be professional when presenting and putting my nerves aside, as well as answering questions in depth and intellectually. This experience with presenting my own research taught me how to be professional and interact in a professional setting with other professionals. I had the pleasure after giving my presentation to two pprofessors from California, who were impressed by my research and even offered to help me with future endeavors with law school. After my session I had the pleasure of attending another session, in which my professor, Dr. McLaren, was presenting. The session focused on gender issues, and there were presentations on sexual assault in college and the stereotypes of yoga and its effects of women. I was able to learn so much throughout the sessions from many different disciplines. So far this experience has allowed me to grow as an intellectual and professional, which is important since I have graduated college and will be immersing myself in many professional experiences.
The SEPA conference overall was such an enriching experience because it awesome to see and meet so many people passionate about the same subject. Also, it was incredible to see the diversity in the subject of psychology and how people are taking theoretical information and using it to study things from homophobia to using emojis. It definitely inspired me to take political psychology research to a national level and find trends in political behavior and why it happens. Especially in our present political climate being able to understand why people believe what they believe will allow us to possibly become empathetic towards differing opinions. Seeing research not only as a academia requirement but as a necessity to improve society is inspiring and definitely makes me want to research even after my college career. This experience has also shown me that Rollins small liberal arts environment made it a little easier to talk to professors and researchers that came up to me because we practice that skill at Rollins daily. If I went to a large state school I probably would have been more intimidated. Overall, it was a great experience that has got me thinking about furthering my research involvement in the future.
On March 9th, I presented at the SEPA poster presentation and represented Rollins as a student researcher. I was very nervous in the beginning because I have never done anything like this. I have given presentations but never at a large conference on my own. I spent a couple of hours before hand memorizing what I was going to say because I did not want to leave anything out. When we started presenting the posters the first few people that came up I was a little nervous and stuck with what I had memorized but as time went on I became a lot more comfortable. I was able to not only remember parts of this study but also talk about political theory I had learned in my politics class to address some of their questions. It was really cool to be well educated on what I was presenting and being able to educate others. Also, I was able to meet some professors and students from other schools. They gave me more ideas on how to research political psychology further as well as diversifying the population that the research was on. This presentation experience was amazing and l was definitely out of my comfort zone but it was such a great way to see how to take knowledge out of the classroom. Also I learned a lot about presenting which will be helpful in the classroom as well.