Campus / News / Student Research / April 27, 2011

AnSo majors explore diversity of topics

Senior Anthropology and Sociology students have spent the past year conducting research in areas of their choice. The finals projects, which will be presented on May 10, 12, 17, 19 and 24, examine everything from the culinary arts to politics to love. The Knox Student sat down with some of these students to get a better look at their research.

Joanna Stack

Senior Joanna Stack chose to study 10 international Chinese students for her project. She interviewed these students and also took part in “participant observations,” which Stack describes as “basically hanging out with them” to observe their daily lives.

“I really expected they would say something about how hard it is and how no one understands them, or something really shocking like that,” Stack said.

She was surprised, though, when she found out that most of the Chinese students she spoke with face problems with how small Galesburg is, missing their friends and missing food from home.

“It turned more into what they want to do after [college]. They can’t do what they want to do without breaking traditions.”

Stack also said that research for AnSo majors is a much longer project than what is required in many other disciplines at Knox. For her and others in her department, their senior research has lasted nearly a year.

During fall term, AnSo majors only learn about methodologies for research, whereas winter term focuses on getting the research done. After all research is complete, they spend spring term analyzing what they have learned.

Stack also mentioned that all students presenting their research this May either went into the Galesburg community or the Knox community to gather research.

“Even though it’s kind of a narrow research, it’s specialized in that way,” Stack said.

Zak Kahn

Senior Zak Kahn focused his research on the metal and punk music scenes in Galesburg. While he emphasized that his project is not yet done and that his thesis is becoming more apparent as he analyzes his research, he said he has enjoyed the project.

“It was a blast. It’s absolutely been the most work that I’ve done,” Kahn said.

After he started going to shows and open mic nights in Galesburg and setting up interviews with people in the local music scene, it became clear what Kahn wanted to examine.

While Kahn originally set out to explore the effects of community and authenticity in the local music scene, he said that his focus has now shifted to studying questions of money and identity and how the individuals he has spoken to in the Galesburg music scene negotiate identity with the financial aspects of what they do.

“Most of our work has been grounded theory,” Kahn said. “It’s basically getting involved with the data. Getting out there and doing stuff … and figuring out the literature afterwards.”

Kahn thought that the AnSo department’s yearlong senior research was beneficial to his project.

“This is like a real, qualitative research project that I’ve done from start to finish,” Kahn said. “It is a strong, marketable skill, being able to create, carry out [and] analyze all that.”

Michaela Romano

Senior Michaela Romano came up with an idea for her research at Knox after studying abroad in Africa.

“When I was studying abroad, I noticed a lot of pregnant mothers on campus,” Romano said. “I did a research project there talking to pregnant mothers and I noticed a lot of guys who were like ‘what about us?’”

Romano decided to focus her AnSo research on defining fatherhood. Through working at Target, she met fathers in the community, and said that only a couple are connected to Knox.

“Nobody really thinks about what it means to father,” she said. “My whole project revolved around this issue of fathers who have established their provider role, but now they’re also being pressured to spend more time in the home.” Romano mentioned how this seemed like the opposite of what many expect of women in most communities.

Romano also asked each father she interviewed what they would change about the community.

“They’d like more places to be open more regularly, where families can hang out,” Romano said.

As far as the year-long research process for her major, Romano said she thought it was definitely beneficial to have a year.

“I think maybe we should have started data collection in the fall,” she said. “Your project changes entirely once you start collecting your data.”

The following research projects will be presented by senior Anthropology and Sociology majors:

“Perception and Misperception: Attitudes Towards Science by Students at a Midwestern Liberal Arts College,” by Lauriane Wales

“Students and Sustainability,” by Peter Tew

“Nursing in Galesburg: the Local Economy’s Effect on the Motivational Reasons of Galesburg Nurses Going into the Nursing Profession,” by Willie Ow

“Negotiations of Global Aspirations and Family Responsibility among Knox College Chinese Students,” by Joanna Stack

“A Well-Oiled Machine? Negotiating Money and Identity in a Small Town Music Scene,” by Zak Kahn

“Do I Love You? The Socio-Emotional Strategies of Foster Parents,” by Akiba Bradford

“Home Away from Home: Culinary Practices of Knox Students,” by Melissa Cuenca

“Not the ‘Weekend Type of Dad’: Changing Expectations of Fatherhood,” by Michaela Romano

“Negotiations of Identity Formation in Bilingual Individuals of Current Knox Students,” by Hannah McMahon

“Social Media and Online-Offline Community in the Local Independent Music Scene in Iowa City, Iowa,” by Stephen Hoyt

“Making the College Choice: Parental Factors that Influence Young People to Achieve Higher Education,” by Emma Beyer

“Spendthrifts and Survival: What People Need and What They Believe They Need,” by Rachel Goldstein

“The Show Goes On: How Music Fandom Affects Self-Identification,” by Whitney Helm

“Loyalties: Social Network and Identity Influence on Political Participation,” by Jim Hanson

Annie Zak

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