Phi Alpha Theta is a nationwide historical society for undergraduate and graduate History students. The society is used to facilitate connections within the history field and encourage historical research. As a member of Phi Alpha Theta and history major at Rollins College, I was able to apply to present historical research at the regional Phi Alpha Theta conference. This conference included universities from across Florida and convened at Palm Beach Atlantic University. At the conference, history researchers are placed in panels of discussions throughout the day depending on their specific research. I was able to sit on the Gender History Panel with the lovely ladies in the image below. This allowed for us to speak about similar themes and issues across American, French, and Chinese perceptions of women throughout the centuries. Specifically, I presented the shifting of gender stereotypes in the American Civil War South and how this was weaponized by Union forces. The Union targeted Southern masculinity as a total war tactic which led to a return of domestication in the postwar period. Other research followed medieval France and Wu Zetian from the Tang dynasty. Following presentations, we engaged in dynamic discussions on parallels and the context of each periods aided by our moderator. This experience allowed me to engage with others who conducted historical research and developed unique perspectives on historical events. I developed further as an individual and liberal arts student by being immersed in the Phi Alpha Theta conference and fellow researchers.
During the Regional Phi Alpha Theta 2018 conference, I was able to see historical PhD first hand, via our keynote Jordyn Marlin. This presentation was from an archaeological and city planning focus to address the Dalriadic Scots possible migration patterns into Argyll. Her research spanned into direct artifacts and early construction pattern analysis. While the undergraduate research is mostly literary based, Jordyn gave a new possibility and perspective to the approach of more rigorous research. Pictured above, she explained the historical bias of each side of the current migration debate due to deep cultural ties between the Scottish and Irish people. I also heard specific limitations to her bias and the validity of physical artifacts due to geographical proximity. This furthers my understanding of historical investigation and consideration of studies at the graduate level. Being around peers of undergraduate students gave me the experience of presenting and discussing my own research at a conference; however, the ability to sit in on graduate research gave me additional perspectives on how it is conducted and various methods. I thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity, during my History of American Sexuality class, to develop topics and themes into well supported arguments. I still have two large research focused history courses to finish the major and I look forward to using that opportunity to incorporate lessons that I learned from my peers and graduate level students.
2018 Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference
I had never been to any kind of professional conference before going to the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Conference this year, and it was a really cool experience to be able to see all of the research being done currently, especially the things being done by other undergraduates. I spent most of my time at the conference going to poster sessions where lots students and professors were presenting their studies. At the poster session I presented at I was unfortunately limited to seeing the posters in my immediate area although it was really great to be able to discuss what I had learned in my research and in turn find out what my peers had found in theirs. I also found that the discussions I had about my study were extremely useful in helping me think more deeply about the meaning behind my results and I received some great feedback about the strengths and weakness of my research and had some new questions to ponder at the end. When looking at other peoples research I was amazed at how much of it had to do with the 2016 presidential election but beyond that I loved hearing how passionate people got when explaining their research and how well they knew the subject they were studying. There is a huge difference between reading a journal article and having the person who conducted the study explain it to you in person. While I am very happy that I am going to be able to put this on my resume this experience really showed me what it was like to be a serious academic researcher and made me even more passionate not only about my own study but psychology research in general.
My first morning, Thursday, March 8th, 2018, was my first time at the Southeastern Psychological Association Conference and I was both nervous and excited to present my research in front of my peers and professionals in the field at the undergraduate poster session. My first chance to share my research actually came when I struck up a conversation with the person presenting on the board next to mine. He had failed to follow the size limitations the conference had set and his poster was too big for his board. Despite this he was excited to present and we exchanged the details of our projects. I found that it was much easier to explain my research than I thought it would be and I was very excited not only to be able to share my research but also to learn about the studies that other students were doing. As people started to file into the room they began to look at each poster and sometimes stop and ask questions. The first few times I explained my research to people I stuttered a little and made a few mistakes in my prepared speech but the more people I talked to the more confident I became and I was able to have some very interesting conversations with people who had done research in similar areas. One woman in particular specialized in locus of control research, which was a trait I was looking at and she said found my results interesting. She suggested that I should take a look at how cultural differences affected it. Meeting these people who were so knowledgeable and getting feedback from them was both humbling and extremely valuable in terms of getting a new perspective on my own research.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.