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Sociology and Anthropology Updates

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SOAN students participate in a wide range of summer research opportunities

By Chris Henke on December 12, 2017

On a snowy December day, it’s a good time to think about summer.  Several students majoring in Anthropology or Sociology spent Summer 2017 conducting research, often right alongside SOAN faculty.  The most recent issue of the Colgate Scene features a cover story on Professor Kristin DeLucia’s research in San Miguel Xaltocan, Mexico—the story features details of Anthropology majors Cameron Pauly, Hannah Post, and Audrey Swift (all class of 2019) working on an archaeological dig central to Prof. DeLucia’s research.  The article also includes many great photos of the site and the team’s work, so make sure to check out the gallery of images.

Earlier this semester, Colgate also featured the work of Sociology major Tim Englehart ’18, who spent the summer researching the impact of college on students’ altruistic behavior, including volunteerism.  Tim worked under the supervision of Professor Janel Benson, and is now continuing his research this year as part of the honors program in Sociology.  Click through the link to read about Tim’s project and reflections in his own words.

Finally, Vanessa Escobar and Jolene Patrina (both class of 2019) worked with Professor Elana Shever over the summer and supported her ongoing research project on the cultural and political significance of dinosaurs in contemporary life.  Vanessa and Jolene wrote this reflection on their work with Prof. Shever, and we hope that all SOAN students consider their advice to pursue summer research experiences with our faculty:

This summer we worked with Professor Shever with her ongoing research, which is entering its later stages as she begins a rough draft of her book. Most of the work we did was focused on transcribing audio files from the field and finding themes amongst data she had collected over the several years of fieldwork. On a day-to-day basis we worked from 9 to 5 and did all our work on a computer. From this, we realized the best part of this summer job was the exposure to new software.

Being introduced to several software programs and using most of them throughout these past weeks is great preparation for future jobs involving research and technology. Additionally, we had independence and free time to direct our projects ourselves and dictated what we would focus on any given day. When it came time to make a poster based on our summer research findings, we realized how enjoyable it is to make a poster however you want, with no strict guidelines, and when you don’t have classwork diverting your attention or even stressing you out. We found it very exciting to work with the data and do our own analysis of this research as well.

Although neither of us major in anthropology, we both had some interest in the field and spent a lot of time in the computer room discussing our findings and having fun devoting so much time to research that didn’t end after we wrote a paper on it like it would during the school year. We were immersed in the investigation and got to know Professor Shever’s field sites and informants on a deeper level without having to travel there.

We bonded in the lab, but we were highly encouraged by Professor Shever to leave the SOAN computer room to get some sun and breathe the fresh air outside. The summertime in Hamilton aided these interactions, because usually the weather was pleasant and the campus was beautifully desolate. Without students constantly roaming the school and without the piles of snow and mud, we got to experience a peaceful, almost meditative campus environment. Additionally, the SOAN workspace, its professors and students, and the campus-wide activities, such as ice cream socials and lunch at Merrill House, were almost ideal for bonds to be built on a small scale within the department and on a bigger scale with the friends we previously had or met around the whole campus.

Ultimately, summer research at Colgate with the wonderful SOAN department was an amazing experience for us both. We got to experience Colgate in a new and less stressful way while still engaging with academics. We encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to work at Colgate for a summer.


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