The Department of Sociology & Criminology is committed to providing students with opportunities to present their research at conferences with the support of faculty. Two of these conferences, the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference and the annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, specifically encourage undergraduates to present their research to their peers and faculty members from colleges and universities across the east coast.
Each year, students in our department have participated in these conferences by either giving a presentation or preparing a poster about a research paper they’ve written in an upper-level research methods and theory course or senior seminar. Students receive coaching from faculty members, transportation is provided to the conference, and participation is free and transportation is provided on your behalf, so talk to your professor about this opportunity today! This experience hones analytical and professional skills and is a valuable addition to your résumé or graduate school application.
The Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference (MAUSRC) is held in March or April each year. Since the first conference in 1981, the MAUSRC has provided an opportunity for undergraduates to present the results of their social research. Students from colleges and universities across the region present research in a range of topics in fields such as Sociology, Anthropology, Gender Studies, Psychology, Social Work, Education, and International Studies, as well as other social scientific disciplines.
In both 2013 and 2014, our department hosted the MAUSRC. In the Spring 2014 edition of our Interactions newsletter, our department chair, Dr. Robert DeFina, highlighted the importance of this unique occurrence for our students:
For the second year in a row, the sociology and criminology department is hosting the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference. This is unusual, in that historically different colleges and universities have taken turns each year hosting the Conference. It really speaks, I believe, to our department’s commitment to encouraging student research and to providing opportunities for them to present it. This sentiment is echoed in Professor Brian Jones’s article; Professor Jones is a long-time organizer and advocate of the Conference.
I urge students to contact the department’s faculty members about the opportunity. They can offer guidance and support regarding participation. And, I encourage all our students to attend, even if only as observers. It’s a great way to support fellow majors and to see the many significant questions that sociology and criminology can illuminate.
Here is what Kensi Ho, a Sociology graduate (class of 2011) who is currently in graduate school, shared with us about her experience as a research conference participant:
Dr. Arvanites, I appreciated all of your help as my advisor and for 'making me' present my research paper at the Mid-Atlantic Undergraduate Social Research Conference. Now that I’m in graduate school, I will actually be using that topic and presentation for one of my projects this semester. You really made a difference in my Villanova experience.
In the Spring 2014 edition of our Interactions newsletter, Dr. Brian Jones shared what motivates him to be involved as a MAUSRC faculty organizer and project mentor.
Even after twenty years, the words still sting.
One of my best students at the time sat down during office hours and looked me dead in the eye. “Dr. Jones,” he said. “I need to get more out of this major.”
At first, I was shocked. He had taken our most advanced courses and received a string of A’s. It stung me to think a star student thought the sociology program was not rigorous enough.
But that wasn’t it. After considerable discussion, his point became clear: he wanted to actually use sociology for something other than getting good grades.
Ever since that day I have been on a bit of a crusade to get students to do something real with their sociological knowledge, mainly, to conduct original research and present it in a conference setting.
This semester, that setting will be right here on campus on April 11, 2014. We would like you to attend as a presenter or attender, preferably both. Aside from the obvious benefits for your résumé, the positive feedback I get about the conference experience takes all the sting out of my former student’s words.
So: have you done enough essay tests, quizzes, précis, journal entries and comparisons of Marx and Weber? Do something real with your sociological knowledge: come to the conference.
The annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS) occurs in February or March in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. During this annual meeting, undergraduates have the opportunity to present research posters that are displayed in several separate sessions during the heart of the conference. Alternatively, undergraduates may give an oral presentation about the findings of a research paper they have written or are in the process of writing as part of a “regular paper session” at annual meeting.
The 83rd Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society, entitled "Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Lives, Social Change, Social Action & Social Justice" was held from March 21-14 in Boston, MA. Four students from our department travelled with Dr. Rick Eckstein to participate in the conference. To see the program guide, click here.
Melissa Madden (Sociology, class of 2013) and Kristen DiGloria (Sociology, class of 2013) attended a session on Gender, Occupational Mobility, Prestige & Representation. This session included the paper "You See? They’re Not Good Enough to be Here": How Race and Gender Shape Confidence in Law School by YungYi Diana Pan, Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Dr. Pan explored the attitudes of law students at two different schools on the west coast and how their perspectives and plans for the future were affected by their peers and by their home backgrounds. Melissa and Kristen also learned about the research of Yingyi Ma from Syracuse University, whose paper was entitled The Intersection of Race and Gender in STEM Fields Attainment. Dr. Ma's research sought to break down stereotypes about male domination of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and careers. She found predictable trends of female under-representation in STEM fields and similar trends for minorities.
Chelsea Fallon (Sociology, class of 2013) and Rachel Flood (Sociology, class of 2013) attended a session on Twitter, Journalism, and Political Identity where the papers included: Twitter and Journalism in the 2011-2012 Republican Primary by Dhiraj Murthy and Laura Petto (Bowdoin College) and Pragmatism and the Performance of Political Identity on Twitter by Ahrum Lee and Daniel Joseph Finn (University of Virginia). Both presentations provided interesting quantitative and theoretical studies on Twitter. Chelsea found this session particularly pertinent since it directly related to her senior capstone project examining the role of twitter in last year’s presidential debates. In fact, one of the scholars presenting in this session approached Chelsea during her poster presentation and offered priceless suggestions for strengthening her work.
On February 25, 2012, seven Arts & Sciences students, along with Drs. Rick Eckstein and Emmanuel David, traveled to New York where they gave research poster presentations at the Eastern Sociological Society’s 2012 annual meeting. After presenting and discussing their research, the students attended other conference sessions before debriefing at a well-known Portuguese restaurant. The students and their research topics were:
Elka Peterson Horner (’12; Sociology, Honors)
“How High Do Sports Score?: The Real Significance of Sports in University Attendance.”
Weddy Worjroh (’12; Sociology, Global Interdisciplinary Studies)
“Racial and Ethnic Self-Identity Among Black Immigrants.”
Michelle Garzia (’12; Sociology; Communication)
“Private Educational Counseling’s Impact on Traditional Processes for Selecting Colleges.”
Kristen Valosky (’12; Sociology Honors)
“The Criminalization of Homelessness in Chester PA.”
Ellen Salmi (’12; French, Honors)
“Active Social Pluralism: Community Building Among Cameroonian-Americans.”
Melissa Madden (’13; Sociology, Math, Honors) & Kristen DiGloria (’13; Sociology, Honors)
“Juvenile Criminal Background and Most Recent Arrest.”
Ellen Salmi’s work was part of a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows (VURF) project under the guidance of Dr. Eckstein. The other students’ research grew out of projects in Dr. Eckstein’s senior capstone seminar or Dr. Allison Payne’s research methods course. Ms. Valosky and Ms. Salmi also presented their research in March at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Salt Lake City.