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Emerging Scholars Projects

Discover current Emerging Scholars Projects! See previous projects below.

Emerging Scholars Projects 2019-2020

“Save Venice”
Christopher Carlsmith-Department of History

When most people think of Venice they think of the beautiful canals and a perfect vacation spot. What many do not know is that since floods in November of 1966 the historic preservation of this iconic city has been in danger. Founded in Boston in 1971 by Prof. John McAndrew (Wellesley) and Prof. Sydney Freedberg (Harvard), Save Venice Inc. has become the largest private organization fighting to preserve Venice’s history. Since its inception the organization has raised more than 30 million dollars to restore over 400 works of art and architecture in Venice; it has repeatedly won prizes from the Italian government; and it currently sponsors more than 30 projects in Venice, including the complete refurbishment of the famous church of S. Sebastiano.

Despite its important restoration efforts, several prominent publications, an informative website, and the high caliber of the scholars and philanthropists who have supported it during the past 40 years, virtually no history of Save Venice exists. Author John Berendt devoted one chapter of his best-selling book The City of Falling Angels (2005) to the former chairman of Save Venice, Randolph Guthrie, detailing some of the controversy that existed around his actions. Due to the importance of the organization’s work to preserve the city and the controversies that it has faced in order to complete this work, a full and complete history of the organization is needed, which is the goal of this project. The selected student will complete hands-on projects including cataloging resources, assisting with oral histories and gathering photographs to illustrate a book on the Save Venice organization.

“Library of New England Immigration”
Ingrid Hess-Arts and Design

Immigration has heavily influenced the development of Lowell, but little is known about these highly influential groups. The Library of New England Immigration is an archive (in the form of a website) where scholars, educators, students, immigrant groups and others interested in Lowell’s history of immigration can access information. Currently there is an enormous amount of information on the history of Lowell Immigrants. Unfortunately, a majority of the information resides in difficult-to-access locations. A few examples include, out-of-print books and articles, old photographs in drawers and recordings of interviews that aren’t accessible. Many people don’t even know the information exists. The Emerging Scholar would play an important role in continuing to bring immigrant narratives to life through motion graphics, including the Vietnam and Syria/Lebanon stories. Students applying for this project should have a strong graphic design skill-set as well as experience with AfterEffects.

“Integrating Ethnomathematics into Teaching 6-12 Classrooms Using Multimedia Learning Technologies”
Iman Chahine-College of Education

Many students in required mathematics classes argue that they will never use the material. This project digs into this assumption and looks at the relationship between mathematics and culture, known as ethnomathematics. The goal of this project is to use new technologies to explore how cultures produce and use mathematics as a way to understand real life phenomena. These technologies will help teachers broaden the applications to which their mathematics lessons can be applied, therefore further encouraging success in math courses throughout Lowell. The student chosen to work on this project will assist with collecting and designing culturally relevant resources to be used in teacher education courses and will assist in designing training modules for 6-12 teachers in the Greater Lowell area.

“Lessons from Myanmar’s Facebook-Drive Genocide: The Divisive Potential of Social Media in an Intolerant Society”
Jenifer Whitten-Woodring-Political Science

Since its emergence social media has been credited with bringing people together. Facebook in particular was credited with sparking the people power revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Yet, more recent events have illustrated how social media, especially Facebook can be used to exacerbate divisions and promote political violence through the dissemination of fake news and hate speech. This is especially evident in Myanmar where internet access has exploded from less than 1% in 2001 to more than 25% in 2017 (ITU 2018), and nearly 40% of the population list Facebook as their primary source for news (IPI 2017). While increased access to the internet and social media is viewed as a sign of increasing political openness, there are signs that the online media have been used strategically for sinister purposes. In 2018 reports emerged that Myanmar’s military used a Facebook campaign to promote genocidal violence against the Rohingya and encourage forced migration. In this study we use multiple methods to investigate the effects of the introduction of the internet and increased political openness on human rights in Myanmar, especially the Rohingya. We will begin with an analysis of domestic news coverage of the Rohingya issue in print, broadcast, online media and social media. We will then develop and conduct a survey to investigate the effects of internet access, and in particular access and exposure to Facebook influence public perception of the Rohingya issue. We hypothesize that Facebook exposure will serve to strengthen existing perceptions about the Rohingya as people seek information sources that are in accordance with their views. Our findings will have implications beyond Myanmar as Facebook and other social media companies seek to increase their reach in the developing world.

“Looking Back and Moving Forward: A Systematic Review of Poly-Victimization Literature”
Yahayra Michel-Smith-Criminology and Justice Studies

Childhood exposure to multiple types of victimization, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullying and exposure to family violence, is unfortunately more common than we realize. Poly-victimization (PV) has become the conceptual framework of choice to organize and understand multiply-victimized children and youth, yet no summary of the literature exists to date. This project focuses on summarizing the state of knowledge on PV in order to inform the research community of the gaps that need to be addressed. The practical objective is to pool together evidence that can be used to better inform policies and practices related to juvenile justice and child well-being for the future. The student chosen for this project should have analytical reading and writing skills.

“Learning Adaptation among Terrorist Groups”
Christopher Linebarger-Criminology and Justice Studies

Since the end of the Second World War, manifestations of political violence in domestic contexts, such as civil wars, insurgency, and terrorism have become the most common form of warfare on the planet, responsible for upwards of sixteen million deaths, the destruction of local economies and infrastructure, and widespread despair, anger, and radicalization. Beyond these immediate consequences, researchers also recognize that civil conflicts have international causes, and tend to spread from one country to the next. There are two categories of factors responsible for the international spread of conflict:

  1. spillover, in which weapons, refugees, and foreign fighters spill across international boundaries and provide the necessary startup resources for new militant and terrorist groups, and
  2. learning, in which a successful rebellion somewhere in the world produces a global effect that radicalizes and inspires a new generation of militants globally.

Unfortunately, current data and methods are unable to differentiate between these two, significantly impeding our empirical understanding of the global spread of conflict. Therefore, this project aims to create a new database of international sources of domestic extremism in order to fill in this gap in our understanding. The student chosen to work on this project will learn to utilize open source databases, how to code information transforming it into data and will assist in the creation of new innovative perspectives based in social-scientific theory.

“Symbolism and Substance: A Dialectic Investigation of Political Imagery and Administrative Materialism”
Aaron Smith Walters- Political Science

The research project will focus on examining the construction of Donald Trump as a political “brand” image and embodiment of a particular populist “anti-establishment” impulse. This image will be compared and contrasted to the image of public bureaucracy and the administrative apparatus to identify the mechanism by which Donald J. Trump was able to effectively capture the existing narrative of “bureaucrat bashing” while simultaneously proposing massive public undertakings such as infrastructure, border wall construction, and military spending expansion. The project begins from the hypothesis that the ability of politicians to project an image which is malleable and amorphous is key to stitching together winning political coalitions. The lynchpin of the project will focus on the manner in which the demonization of public servants was accomplished and how the lack of an effective counter image which effectively promotes the positive impacts of the work of public agencies is a significant contributing factor to the decay of the way the public views fairness, efficacy, and legitimacy of federal action. Some of the potential tasks for the student chosen will include identifying additional scholarly and popular works that help to establish Donald Trump’s image, identifying scholarly works that conceptualize the importance of branding and its connection to public bureaucracy as well as an opportunity for writing and theorizing. The student chosen for this position will possess significant interest in issues of reality, human cognition and perception as well as a commitment to the promise of a democratic and accountable public service.

“The EcoSonic Playground Project (ESPP)”
Elissa Johnson-Green-Department of Music

Three pressing issues facing the global learning community are equal access to quality arts education, adequate support for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education, and the fostering of sustainable practices. The EcoSonic Playground Project (ESPP) is a creative, interdisciplinary project that addresses these challenges. It centers on children designing and building large-scale musical instrument structures using PVC pipe and recycled materials found in their local communities. Children follow a design curriculum that guides the making process while allowing them to practice social-cognitive and STEAM skills. This curriculum includes music, visual arts, physics and acoustics, engineering practices, and design thinking. It also supports creative, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary learning. After the instruments are built, we provide educators with a musicianship curriculum that teaches musical skills through improvisation, conducting, and composition. In essence, the ESPP structures are playable sound sculptures that are adaptable to any learning environment and to diverse learning styles. Recognizing that each learning environment is unique and complex, all aspects of the curriculum, including the materials, are tailored to each program.

A student research partner will participate in the following ways: Training in and performing various aspects of mixed methods research, including data collection; training in data analysis including video and audio coding, synthesis, thematic classification, and patterning; contributing to literature review, adding to an ongoing annotated bibliography; contributing to articles that will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals; aiding in writing and submitting grant applications; contributing to research conference submissions with possibility for co-presenting; contributing to social media to get the word out about this project. I am looking for a student with strong writing skills (vital), an open-minded approach to learning, a tendency toward divergent thinking, consistency and reliability in work habits, and good listening skills. No musical training is necessary for participation in this project – it is open to students of diverse interests. The research focuses on project impact, social interaction, and learning development across STEAM areas.

"Who Cares? Understanding the New Landscape of Elder Care"
Mignon Duffy-Sociology
Andrew Hostetler- Psychology

In the United States, as in many wealthy countries around the world, caring for an aging population is an urgent policy concern. By 2030, 1 in 5 individuals in the US population will be over 65, and by 2035 the number of those over 65 will outnumber the number of children for the first time in the country’s history. In the face of this growing need, the United States lacks an integrated approach to caring for the elderly, relying heavily on unpaid care by family members and a patchwork system of paid care services. This project is an exploratory study of care “triads”—older-adult care recipients, unpaid family caregivers, and paid care workers. We plan to interview the members of ten care triads (N=30) and to apply a multi-level interdisciplinary analysis to better understand the complex relationships at the heart of contemporary elder care arrangements. Our analysis will integrate the tools of psychology and sociology to explore individual level questions (How do people become family caregivers or paid care workers? How does their role as a caregiver affect their perception of their identity?), micro-relational questions (How do the members of the triad interact and what do they expect from each other? How are these expectations shaped by cultural norms such as discourses around family, work, race, gender, etc.?), and macro-structural questions (What is the relationship between paid and unpaid care? How do the structures of care reflect and reproduce societal inequalities?).

This study is at the beginning stages of what we hope will become a much larger project. We expect the Emerging Scholar will be involved in every aspect of the project – reviewing the literature, assisting in interviews, transcribing and coding interview data, and developing thematic analysis and written arguments. The Emerging Scholar will be trained in NVIVO, a qualitative data analysis software package. We are looking for a student with some familiarity with/an interest in learning more about qualitative research methods, an interest in human services and/or public policy, and someone who wants to engage deeply in exploring these themes with us.

Past Emerging Scholar Projects

To learn more about what the students have done, view their mid-year presentations.

These articles document past Emerging Scholar Projects in action!

The Emerging Scholars Program is administered by the Center for Women & Work, and funded by the Office of the Financial Aid and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

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