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Last fall, students in my Sociology 240: Gender and Society course spent much of the semester conducting original research. They develop research questions, wrote hypotheses, located appropriate data, and engaged in qualitative and quantitative content coding. Topics varied based on student interest, and included analysis of popular culture, attitudes towards health and bodies, treatment of men and women in politics, fashion, and athletics. It was an intensive project, especially for the many sophomores in the class, but one that gave students a rich base of experience. As Lauren Krapfl (’20) said, “Only being a sophomore and conducting a research study such as this is truly unique. When people say that Loras allows you to get your feet in the water early on, they really mean it.”
I was impressed with each of the projects and was able to submit several for presentation at the Iowa Sociological Association’s (ISA) annual meeting planned for April 2020. ISA is a yearly gathering of sociology students who meet to present their research, hear from professional sociologists, and talk with others about shared academic interests. These students would have not only shared their work, but had been selected for competition in state-wide paper competitions.
Unfortunately, ISA, like most academic conferences this spring, was cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. I was disappointed for the students who had worked so hard on their projects. Sharing the results of your work is an important component of the scientific method, and it was important to me that they experienced that. More importantly, having their effort acknowledged reaffirms the importance of sociological research and helps students appreciate the quality of their work.
As we know, however, DuHawks support DuHawks. It was in that spirit that students in Dr. Parks’ (’98) Sociology Senior Seminar course invited the group of sophomore and junior students to their class to talk about the research experience. Two-thirds of this year’s sociology senior class had competed at ISA when they were sophomores, and knew first-hand how important that experience was. Erin Sellberg (’20) says “I attended ISA as a sophomore, and it was honestly the first experience I had with feeling like a true sociologist…It was exciting to be there and meet people who asked the big questions….I felt empowered and inspired to soak up as much information throughout the day as possible.”
All six of the invited Gender and Society students agreed to share their research with the senior sociology majors, even though an entire semester has passed since they completed their projects. Clare Brunn (’22), Alyssa Corkery (’21), Emma Earles (’22), Brigid Hecht (’22), Lauren Krapfl (’22), and Annika Sunleaf (’21) joined Laura Cifuentes-Almanza (’20), Hope Jacobson (’20), Jake Janson (’20) and Erin Sellberg (’20) for the research discussion. Dr. Kate Parks (’98) and I were also there, listening excitedly to their conversation.