2022 Project Proposals

Anthropology

April Beisaw (Anthropology)

Project Description

The community heritage and archaeology project undertakes archival, architectural, and archaeological research that tells new stories of the Hudson Valley past and present. In 2022, the project is focused on the reservoir histories of towns impacted by creation of the New York City water system. We will also respond to community requests for expertise to examine archaeological and architectural sites in the region.

Anticipated Project Activities

A Ford student is needed to assist with oral history interviews (meet with community members and record their stories), archaeological excavations (hike uneven terrain, dig and screen soil, clean and identify artifacts), mapping (GIS and GPS), and written and oral report preparation.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Must have strong organizational skills, be an excellent listener, enjoy meeting new people, and feel comfortable hiking off-trail in summer heat. Preference given to anthropology majors and correlates, especially those who have completed coursework in archaeology or an archaeological field school. Students with majors in history or environmental studies will be considered, if they have mapping skills.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Student will give a Zoom talk to community members, summarizing the results of our work with them.

Project Location

Hybrid - students need to be on-campus for the duration but may be able to work from their dorm rooms several days a week

Project Duration

Six weeks

Project Start Date

June 01, 2022

Project End Date

July 12, 2022

Art

Bart Thurber (Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and Art Department)

Project Description

2022 Ford Scholars Program
Pindyck Curatorial Fellowship (sponsored by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center)
8 weeks

Mentor: T. Barton Thurber, Anne Hendricks Bass Director and Lecturer in Art
Project Proposal: Building the Museum: Collecting and Displaying Art from the Renaissance to the Present (ART 316, Spring 2023)

From the time that the first public art museums were established in Europe centuries ago, they have often been intended to be seen as works of art in themselves. In many instances, the function and purpose of these buildings have evolved, leading to renovation, reinvention, and even demolition. Through a set of case studies dating from the fifteenth century to the present, the course will examine different architectural settings and design strategies for museum buildings and displays around the globe. Specific examples include:

- Capitoline Museums, Rome (IT)—Michelangelo Buonarroti, 15th c. - 16th c.

- The State Hermitage Museums, Saint Petersburgh (RU)—Bartolomeo Rastrelli, 18th c.

- Prado Museum, Madrid (ES)—Juan de Villanueva, 18th c.

- Sir John Soane Museum, London (UK)—Soane, 19th c.

- Altes Museum, Berlin (DE)—Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 19th c.

- Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA/Philadelphia (USA)—Paul Phillipe Cret/Billie Tsien & Tod Williams, 20th c. - 21st c.

- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (USA)/Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (USA)—F. L. Wright/Louis Kahn/Renzo Piano/Knight Architecture, 20th c. – 21st c.

- Louvre Dubai, Abu Dhabi (UAE)—Jean Nouvel, 21st c.

- National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington, DC (USA)—Sir David Adje, 21st c.

- New Museum of Western Australia, Perth (AU)—Hassell & OMA, 21st c.

Anticipated Project Activities

In preparation for the Museum Director’s Seminar next year (ART 316), the Fellow will assist in assembling relevant bibliographic references, compiling related images (incl. videos and virtual links), and—in the case of contemporary projects—arranging interviews with designers and/or key stakeholders.

Moreover, the Fellow will compile relevant background information on the design development and related visual materials associated with the planning and construction of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (late 20th c.), as well as earlier spaces that housed the Vassar Art Gallery (late 19th c. and early 20th c.). A summary of the latter findings will be submitted by the Fellow for inclusion in the new Vassar Campus History website: http://vassarcampushistory.vassarspaces.net.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

ART 105 / 106 and an interest in architecture, urban studies, and/or the history of collecting.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The Fellow will be invited to introduce a brief summary of their research, and relevant resources, to the students enrolled in the course in spring 2023, as well as future opportunities to visit and be introduced to stakeholders associated with new academic art museum building project sites (e.g., Princeton University, Williams College, Middlebury College, etc.).

Project Location

In-Person or Hybrid: Ideally, the student would be on campus to take advantage of available resources and to participate in the formal events and inforrmal gatherings, although--depending on the cirumstances--partial in-person and remote could be an option as well.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 06, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

John Murphy (Art History / Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center)

Project Description

This summer presents exciting opportunities for collaborative research opportunities for a Ford Scholar at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. I will be developing a six-week intensive course (ART 296) for Fall semester on the theme of “printmaking as social activism,” drawing on the collection of the Loeb to examine how artists have used printmaking as a medium to protest and provoke, to encourage empathy and action, and to promote positive social change. The course would benefit immensely from a Ford Scholar to assist with researching relevant works in the Loeb’s collection, selecting course readings, and developing impactful themes and frameworks for discussion. I would invite the Ford Scholar to present their findings to the “Paper Protest” course and lead a classroom discussion on a topic of their choosing along with readings selected by the Fellow.

Anticipated Project Activities

Beyond course preparation, a print-focused Project at the Loeb would offer several opportunities for a Ford Scholar to acquire experience in professional museum practice. Potential collaborations include (but are not limited to):

• Develop checklist / programming for a small exhibition in the Spotlight Gallery related to the theme of print-as-activism. In the Fall semester, the Loeb will present a curated selection of artist’s books from the Women’s Studio Workshop (Rosendale, NY), a printmaking residency dedicated to serving individual women and trans, intersex, nonbinary and genderfluid artists. A Ford Scholar could play an active role in working with the WSW and Vassar Library’s Special Collections (a WSW repository) to make selections, research individual works, write labels and didactics, and develop relevant programming in the Fall. Original research on the WSW—an understudied organization of historical significance with an extensive archive—could lead to the opportunity to present their research at an academic conference.

• Acquire work for the collection: As part of the project, I would invite the Fellow to propose prints for acquisition by the Loeb related to the topic of social justice. This would give the Fellow insight into a key part of museum practice: how works are selected to become part of a museum’s permanent collection. The Fellow would identity possible candidates, conduct extensive research, develop a proposal, and present it to the Loeb’s curatorial team. A successful proposal would argue convincingly for the work’s relevance to the collection, how it could meet interdisciplinary curricular needs, and possible uses in future exhibitions.

• Virtual Exhibition: The Ford Scholar would develop a curated selection of objects from the collections on the theme of “social justice” (or related topic of Fellow’s choosing) that would feature prominently on the Collections page of the Loeb’s website, with full credit given to the Fellow for research and curation.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

- Interest in art historical scholarship, museum practice, and/or curation, with an emphasis on art and social justice
- Commitment to collaboration with campus and community partners
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Organized and self-motivated to take ownership of project and show initiative

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

In addition to inviting the Ford Scholar to present their findings to the “Paper Protest” course and lead a classroom discussion on their topic, I would encourage the scholar to conduct original research in the archives of the Women's Studio Workshop. This would inform not only the checklist and labels for the display, but could generate related programming in the Fall involving the scholar. Given the historical significance (yet lack of research) of the Women's Studio Workshop, original research could potentially be presented at an academic conference.

Project Location

If possible, and in accordance with CDC/college guidelines, I hope the scholar and I could meet at the Loeb Art Center, along with research trips around campus and the local community.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

August 05, 2022

Economics

Esteban Argudo (Economics)

Project Description

The purpose of this project is to assess if (and how) monetary policy affects immigrants differently than natives. The project fits within a growing strand of literature that advocates monetary policy can have important distributional consequences, which can ultimately matter for promoting aggregate economic stability (which is the main goal of monetary policy).

It is well documented that immigrants and natives differ on labor market characteristics (such as wages and employment opportunities). I am working on another project in which I also document that these two groups differ in terms of their wealth (amount and type of assets and debt they hold). Therefore, when monetary policy affects interest rates and employment opportunities (via aggregate demand), it can have a differential effect on immigrants and natives.

There are three steps in the project. First, data collection. I have already collected some of the data (from my other project), but we still need data on monetary policy implementation and labor market characteristics of immigrants and natives. Second, data analysis. We will simple regressions to document if monetary policy implementation leads to differences in income (wage income, interest income, profits) and employment (job finding rates, separation rates) between natives and immigrants. Third, model analysis. We will build a model of the U.S. economy that is able to replicate the documented differences. We will use the model to (i) understand the mechanisms driving these differences, and (ii) investigate if these differences enhance or impair the ability of monetary policy to promote aggregate economic stability.

Anticipated Project Activities

The student will work on steps one and two - data collection and analysis. The student will be required to read several academic papers on the distributional effects of monetary policy, on the nativity-gap in wages and wealth, and on estimation and inference techniques (vector auto-regressions and local projections). The student will be working with data from the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The student will need to learn some basic programing in Python and Stata (or R) to collect and analyze the data.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The necessary qualifications include an interest in inequality, economic policy, economic modeling, mathematical maturity, ability to work independently, critical thinking, and basic knowledge of computer programming (in any language but preferably in Python).

Other qualifications that would be extremely useful but are not necessary include a background on Statistics and/or Econometrics (from previous classes taken at Vassar or elsewhere).

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The student will present the findings at the Ford symposium in the 2021 fall semester. Depending on the progress from the summer, the student might be invited to continue working on the project as a research assistant. It is also possible for the student to buildup on this experience to develop their own related research project for a course or senior thesis. The opportunity to collect, clean, and analyze data provides valuable experience for internships or full-time jobs. Furthermore, this project will expose the students to some state-of-the-art economic modeling techniques which will be useful for those considering graduate school in any field.

Project Location

If circumstances allow it, I would prefer in-person. I think that the mentoring aspect of the project is not as effective when doing it remotely. However, the project per se can be done remotely with no problem.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

July 22, 2022

Dustin Frye (Economics)

Project Description

Science has shown lead consumption, in any amount, is harmful to human health. Historically, a dominant source of lead exposure was polluted drinking water. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the United States underwent a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization during which roughly half of all municipalities installed lead water pipes, which allowed lead to leach into drinking water. Exposure to this toxic metal represented a significant environmental hazard, as potentially millions of people faced dangerous levels of lead consumption. The use of lead water pipes in municipalities’ infrastructure in the late nineteenth century provides a useful setting in which to examine the consequences of prolonged childhood exposure to waterborne lead. This project will exploit variation differences across cities in the adoption of lead water pipes and the chemical properties of water to quantify the consequences of lead exposure on human capital development and later life labor market outcomes.

Anticipated Project Activities

The project features three primary activities. The first involves archival data collection of municipal infrastructure and schooling records starting in the mid-nineteenth century. The second activity is very data intensive and involves working with the full count census data for several decades from 1850 – 1940. The specific data tasks involve constructing an individual level dataset with lead pipe and chemistry data as well as a dataset of probabilistically linked dataset of individuals over time. This linked dataset would allow us to observe childhood exposure and adult outcomes. The final activity would involve preliminary analysis.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Experience working with Excel and STATA or R is required. The ideal candidate will have experience cleaning and constructing datasets.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Depending on the progress, the student may be asked to stay on as a research assistant in the future. Additionally, the student may be asked to help co-teach one or two lectures that focus on trends in urban development over the 20th century in Econ 277, American Economic History, in the spring of 2023.

Project Location

in-person

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 06, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

Qi Ge (Economics)

Project Description

This proposed project studies consumer responses to airline quality provisions in the form of on-time performance. Prior literature on airline product quality tends to focus on the link between on-time performance and industry dynamics and curiously overlook consumers’ actual reactions to flight delays. Our project will fill this important gap in the literature by leveraging data from social media and exploring consumers’ route-specific and real-time responses to flight delays. We are particularly interested in understanding whether and how the responses may differ by the nature of delays, such as delays that are out of the carrier’s control (e.g., due to weather-related reasons) vs. delays that are within the carrier’s control (e.g., due to maintenance or crew-related issues).

Anticipated Project Activities

Data collection (from both public data sources and web-scrapping), data processing, literature search, literature review, and preliminary descriptive analyses.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Prior coursework in statistics (and/or econometrics) and microeconomic theory; strong data processing skills and proficiency in Python, Stata, R; prior experience with web scrapping; excellent time management skills and ability to multitask; attention to detail.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The student will share his/her summer research experience in my future ECON 102 Introduction to Economics class. The summer collaboration may also potentially lead to future co-authoring opportunity on the project.

Project Location

Hybrid: scholar is expected to be on campus; regular meetings may be in-person or remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

August 05, 2022

Benjamin Ho (Economics)

Project Description

Help develop a new behavioral economics project. Will work with scholar to find a good match between my current projects and the interests of the student. Current high priority projects include:
understanding the relationship between medical testing and fear, understanding how apologies affect celebrity cancelation, understanding the relationship between income, mobility and pro-social behavior, and understanding the number of asian-american faculty at college campuses. See http://www.benho.org for other recent projects.

Anticipated Project Activities

Every part of a research project, from hypothesis generation to lit review to experimental design to execution to statistical analysis, to publication and presentation. The goal is to find a project that the student can make their own and eventually lead to publication.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Able to independently learn simple programming (e.g. use python to download tweets and/or web design)
Ability to run a regression in Stata (maybe also python, understanding Stata loops and macros a plus)
An ability to read and consolidate diverse literatures (psychology, philosophy, political science, anthropology, computer science, etc.)
An interest in continuing behavioral econ research as a senior thesis

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Typically I work with interested students to make the summer project into a co-authored paper to be submitted to an academic journal. Past Ford scholars have presented their work at national conferences (e.g. at Harvard and at Miami) and published in professional journals and undergraduate focused research journals.

Project Location

Hybrid. Usual format is in person day once a week, with lab meeting and econ dept summer brownbag. Otherwise, work can be remote. Shared office with other Ford scholars will be available. (full remote ok at student request)

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 29, 2022

Project End Date

July 25, 2022

Gisella Kagy (Economics)

Project Description

This project will explore economic research on the causes and consequences of inequality and discrimination in the United States. The focus of this project will be curricular development for helping create, curate, and update research that will be the focus of my ECON 320 course: The Economics of Inequality and Discrimination. This course surveys current economic literature about income and health inequality in the US, as well as key areas of labor market discrimination: gender, age, sex, race, and religion. The course covers questions such as how do we measure inequality? What pay differences exist by age, race, gender, and what explains those differences?

Over the course of the summer, we will review current economic literature in this field and curate a reading list. We will go over research papers in detail, understanding the econometric research methods that are being used such as regression discontinuity designs, fixed effect models, and instrumental variables. We will catalog which research methods are being used to understand which types of discrimination and inequality.

In addition to surveying the current literature we will use data from the US census to compile examples of inequality in the US. This component will involve data cleaning and data analysis.

Anticipated Project Activities

During this project we will survey current literature in the economics discipline on inequality and discrimination in the US. This project will include reading economic journal articles, understanding the data that these articles are using and their econometric techniques. We will also use data from the US census to explore current trends in US inequality. We will prepare datasets that can be used in the course for students to explore.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Preferred qualifications for this project are the completion of ECON 102 and ECON 201. It is helpful if the student has taken a course where a programming language was learned, either Python, R, Stata or Matlab.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The student will be invited to lead a class where we use the US census data to explore trends in inequality in the US. They will create a lecture that walks students through this data and how to complete analysis on it.

Project Location

In-person

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

Sarah Pearlman (Economics)

Project Description

This project will examine the impact on women in Mexico of the unprecedented decline in Mexican migration to the U.S. that started around 2008 and continues to the present. The decline has been sizable and ahistorical. For example, Passel and Cohn (2016) document that over the 2007 to 2014 period, net migration from Mexico to the U.S. fell to zero, while Norlander and Sorensen (2016) find that over the 2000 to 2013 period growth in the total immigrant population witnessed the largest decline in over 100 years. One result of the decline in temporary and permanent migration is a large increase in the number of young men living in Mexico. These increases have been so large that the ratio of young men to young women in migrant sending states has increased. This project will investigate the ways in which this large increase in the supply of men has impacted the labor market and marriage outcomes of women in Mexico.

Anticipated Project Activities

The project has a data, literature review, writing and presentation component. The data component will involve looking at datasets on Mexican labor markets, marriage and divorce. Through this work the student will become familiar with some of the key datasets used by policymakers and researchers to analyze Mexican labor and marriage markets. The student also will learn how to present data in an interesting and meaningful way using tables and graphs.

The literature review component will involve finding papers on labor market and marriage outcomes for women in Mexico. The writing component will involve writing up commentary on the datasets analyzed, the summary statistics created from them, and a literature review. The goal is for students to gain experience writing in economics and to end the project with a written document that synthesizes the work they did during the summer.

Finally, the student will present preliminary results of the literature review and data analysis in a brown bag held in the Economics department over the summer. We have done this over the past several years, and participants include professors in Economics and their Ford Scholars. The environment is very collegial, and this is a good way to practice workshopping ideas in front of an audience.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The student needs to have taken Introduction to Econometrics (at Vassar or elsewhere). Knowledge of Spanish is preferred, but not required.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Through the project the student will learn how to work with economic data and how to use those data to answer questions about individual outcomes. These skills are beneficial as data analysis is a key part of many jobs, both within and outside of academia. By gaining a better understanding of how data sets are constructed and how they can be used, the student will better see the link between economic theory, data and policy-making.

The student will use STATA, a widely used statistical package. Knowledge of STATA is beneficial if the student is interested in pursuing graduate study or a career within Economics and Public Policy. Many excellent jobs for undergraduates within both fields require a good understanding of statistical programs.

Finally, a key goal of this project is for students to gain a better understanding of what research in economics entails, and potential career paths that involve economic research. Past Ford scholars have gone on to write theses in economics, to work as research assistants after graduation, and go on to graduate school.

Project Location

In person (but there remote is possible)

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

July 22, 2022

Tanseli Savaser (Economics)

Project Description

The objective of this project is to help develop a new financial economics research paper. The Ford scholar will be familiarized with my ongoing projects through a focused literature review and choose topic that matches his/her interests. My recent research interests center around examining 1) which corporate governance mechanisms are more effective in mitigating the impact of cyberattacks faced by US banks; 2) how automation of the credit provision process in the banking industry affects loan outcomes and 3) whether trade secrets protection laws had an unintended consequence of increasing product market concentration in the U.S. Once the student chooses his/her topic of interest, s/he will help develop the hypothesis, collect/clean data and perform preliminary statistical analysis.

Anticipated Project Activities

Activities for this project will include reviewing the relevant literature; helping with data collection and processing, producing summary statistics tables and conducting preliminary regression analyses.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Experience working with Excel and STATA; ability to independently learn simple programming in python.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The scholar will present the project and its findings as a guest lecturer in my Financial Markets course, gaining teaching experience in the classroom environment. In addition, the student may be asked to stay on as a research assistant in the future.

Project Location

Full remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 06, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

Education

Erin McCloskey (Education)

Project Description

College classes that enroll citizens returning from incarceration along with current college students can draw on participants’ diverse experiences to enrich the course content. This project involves centering storytelling as a research method to understand how telling stories about our communities, families and schools opens up opportunities for dialogue about race, class, gender and dis/ability. The opportunity to engage in these discussions can build community on and off campus. The bulk of the summer work will be to draft a research study protocol to submit to funding agencies. This will involve networking with community organizations, former students and local educational organizations to build an approach that is inclusive and participatory.

Anticipated Project Activities

Researching funding agencies
Curating articles and drafting a literature review
Help in drafting an application to the institutional review board
Potentially analyzing course syllabuses
Connecting with area organizations

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Able to develop organizational systems to record data
Ability to use research databases and conduct a literature review
An interest in qualitative methods and critical storytelling
A strong interest in prison and post-prison educational programming

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

There will be an opportunity for the Ford Scholar to co-design and co-teach a class that includes community members and critical storytelling. There might also be an opportunity further down the line to publish and/or present together.

Project Location

Full remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

Maria Hantzopoulos (Eduction)

Project Description

Paulo Freire was one of the leading theorists and practitioners of critical pedagogy and popular education, and is most noted for his seminal work, the Pedagogy of the Oppressed. His writings and practices have influenced countless people working in education and public policy around the globe. Nonetheless, many students are sometimes challenged on how to engage his theories in practice. I will developing an advanced seminar of the work and practices of Paulo Freire, and their relationship to other theorists (bell hooks, Carter Woodson, etc..) that engage in transformative change. I am looking for a student to help me develop the syllabus, including by not limited to readings, examples of community practice, films, etc...The student will also help identify potential speakers and events that illustrate critical pedagogies in practice. Finally, I am hoping to build an interactive website so that students will be able to engage with these materials. This will include an annotated resource list as well, but the scholar will help me conceptualize the overall platform.

Anticipated Project Activities

* Compile readings, films, and activities for students about Freire and critical pedagogies
* Contact and connect with related community organizations
* Identify community groups (both locally and globally) that engage in Freirean practices
* Curate an annotated reference list about the teachings and practices of Freire
* Create activities for Vassar students to engage the materials

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

* Students should be able to work independently
* Outstanding research skills
* Some experience in creating and devising lessons
* Strong communication skills
* Knowledge on how to build a website (even through weebly or google sites)
* Familiarity with creating annotated lists

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The student will present their work at the Ford symposium in the 2022 fall semester. The student will be invited to present in and work with my class in the Fall. As well, depending on the quality of the work, we may consider submitting something the CIES conference for Spring 2023 (deadline is October 2022 to submit).

Project Location

remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

July 22, 2022

Hispanic Studies

Augusto Hacthoun Hacthoun (Hispanic Studies)

Project Description

The first time Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) took and told of a vicarious journey around Chile, Latin America, geography, history, society, politics, botany, zoology and his own life, it took him 12 years and more that 15,000 verses: Canto general (1950).

Neruda took that same vicarious journey one last time and told it in one day, 433 verses, Aún, (1969).

My collaborator and I will research-walk together that last journey guided by the Thompson Library’s copy of the first edition of Aún and its accessible sources.

Anticipated Project Activities

Through deep readings, thorough discussions, and laborious research my collaborator and I will engage with and annotate the geography, history, society, politics, zoology, botany and private life cited, revealed, evoked or adjacent to the tellings in Neruda’s Aún.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Knowledge of Spanish and enjoyment of vicarious travel through Chile and Latin America. Devotion to reading and appetite for wide-ranging research. Resolve; persistence; imagination; common sense; discernment.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Endeavor to co-author a text for publication.

Project Location

Prefer in-person, but would adjust to full remote or hybrid --if necessary.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 23, 2022

Project End Date

07/01/2021

Project Description

The Oviedo Project @ Vassar College is a collaborative digital humanities/scholarly publication undertaking whose aim is the first complete translation into English of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo’s 16th-century Historia general y natural de las Indias, islas, y tierra firme del mar océano (General and Natural History of the Indies, Islands and Mainland of the Ocean Sea). Written between 1524 and 1548, the brief iterations of the text published in 1526, 1535, and 1547 were translated into English, Italian, French, German, and Latin; its fifteen editions in the 16th-century marked the text as a classic of Renaissance ethnographic and natural history. The full text, however, was not transcribed and published in Spanish until 1851-1855 in a 4-volume, nearly 3,000-page edition sponsored by the Royal Academy of History.
Oviedo’s signal contributions to early Latin American political, environmental, economic, and cultural history were substantially eclipsed by his death while he was engaged in the process of editing his work for publication. The four volume-edition opened new vistas into the world of the 16th century Caribbean for readers able to access the material in Spanish, but it did little to make this extensive new text available to readers in any other language. In fact, there is no translation of the four-volume work—a work that simply defies characterization—available in any language other than the original Spanish.
This is where both the challenge and significant contribution of our translation project lies. We are engaged in the translation, already in process, of the four-volume 19th-century edition of the text working in collaboration with a team of Vassar’s students in time for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Oviedo’s Sumario in 2026. The incorporation of a pedagogical component in our project responds to various pressures, realities, and opportunities of 21st-century academia. First, it is not feasible to expect one single scholar to dedicate a career to the translation and publication of a text as extensive as Oviedo’s Historia. In the face of this practical reality, the digital humanities in the form of an ongoing online translation of Oviedo’s Historia present new opportunities for collaboration, experiential learning, accessibility, and archiving of a comprehensive translation.
Our model for collaborative engagement of scholars and students in the production of a translation of this length and significance is one that we hope will serve as a model for similar projects aimed at the revitalizing of translation as an essential component of foreign language acquisition.
Designed as a closely-mentored multi-leveled engagement with the text—as a form of apprenticeship in the endangered art of scholarly translation and interpretation—the project aims to bridge the gap between seemingly inaccessible “old” texts and evolving contemporary concepts of history, indigeneity, race and ethnicity, and natural and environmental history by tapping into the possibilities of scholarly mentorship opened by a liberal arts education. Conceived as a team effort through which they can contribute to making an important primary source available to a broad reading public, the project has been built on the students’ enthusiasm for a text they have come to understand through its relevance to contemporary questions about the impact of colonization on the environments of colonized societies, the evolution of racial categories and discrimination, the history of extractivist capitalism, or the textual intricacies of describing a new world in a language that requires reinvention.

Anticipated Project Activities

We have now completed the translation of the first volume of the work and we will expect our Ford Scholar to help us prepare the first volume for publication and to help us update the project's website (https://pages.vassar.edu/oviedo/) by loading the chapters from Volume Two (we expect to have about two third of the translation of Volume Two completed by Summer 2022) and finding suitable illustrations for the students' work and by transferring the first volume to our new Scalar site. We expect the students to joining the editorial team for discussions and project decisions and to help us research and draft scholarly and explanatory notes for the text. This work may take us to specialized libraries in New York City and the John Carter Brown Library.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

A knowledge of Spanish—at least at the intermediate level—would be preferred, as well as an interest in translation and scholarly research. We work with Wordpress and Scalar on our site, but we can train the student in these skills quite quickly.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

In addition to participating in the Ford Scholars Symposium, we would like the student to participate in the orientation and training of the translators that will join the project in the fall and spring semesters of the 2022-2023 academic year through the sharing of their experiences and skills.

Project Location

Hybrid

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

July 22, 2022

History

Rebecca Edwards (History)

Project Description

The student will assist with research for Multiplied: Childbearing and American Empire, a book project which connects nineteenth-century U.S. continental expansion--including slavery, conquest, and dispossession of Native peoples--with intensive childbearing. The goal is to knit together two historical fields that have been largely treated separately: U.S. conquest of the North American continent, and pregnancy, childbearing, and child-rearing.

The portion of the project that will be the focus in summer 2022 centers on some forms of census data that have not generally been tapped. I am documenting how thousands of nineteenth-century frontier families, both enslaved and free, bore 15, 20, or more children. Both men and women began their reproductive lives at very young ages. Enslaved women faced tremendous pressure to begin bearing children in their early teens; even when such pregnancies resulted from consensual sex, rather than violence, enslaved women knew they faced the threat of sale or violence if children did not result.

Among white families, including Hispanic families in the Southwest, men generally remarried after a first wife died (sometimes in the course of bearing her 10th, 11th, or 12th child); some married multiple times, fathering 30 or more children. Sons and daughters need to be understood as a major labor source that was essential to the work of empire: alongside their fathers, sons cleared land and enlisted in frontier militias, while daughters married young and raised the next generation who would do the same further west. For white families, politicians celebrated this by the 1840s as ""American Multiplication.""

Indigenous peoples, facing the violence of dispossession and an overwhelming tide of aggressive invaders, struggled to increase fertility as a matter of physical and cultural survival. Using accounts from the Indian Pioneer Papers along with census data for different Native peoples, I am seeking to show how groups fared when they retained control of some ancestral lands (such as St. Regis Mohawks, Menominees, and Crows), as opposed to those who became refugees in Indian Territory (Creeks, Shawnees, Dakotas).

Part 1 of the book interweaves personal, family, demographic, and political stories to show how childbearing in the patriarchal family--including slavery--was central to the achievement of U.S. imperial aims. Part 2 looks at how the relationship between the patriarchal family and the state began to change after Emancipation and the end of the Civil War, as families sharply limited childbearing. This had considerable political, economic, social, and cultural impacts, as policymakers began to fear white ""race suicide"" and shifted toward efforts to ""whiten"" the population, through anti-miscegenation laws, Asian Exclusion, and eugenics.

Anticipated Project Activities

The primary focus in June 2022 will be on census data. In 1900, for the first time, census-takers asked every married and widowed woman, ""how many children have you borne? How many are still living?"" The results are available through Ancestry Library Edition and give us an unparalleled window into the reproductive lives of multiple generations of Black, Native, and white women (including Hispanic women and recent European immigrants). Building on considerable data that has already been gathered, we will spend four weeks gathering a bit more and analyzing results. We will be asking questions such as: What we can learn about women in the United States who in 1900 reported that they had borne 20 or more children (incredibly, there were about 2,000 of them!) and about their life histories, economic circumstances, and survival rates of their children? Using these sources, can we directly correlate enslaved Black women's fertility rates in the 1850s to rising prices in the slave markets of the South? Can we document Native women's resistance to colonialism through the act of mothering--showing how their rates of childbearing rose while those of all other demographic groups began to fall?

We will not fully answer all these questions in just four weeks! But we will have a good deal of pre-collected data to dig into and will get as far as we can. The richness of the data, and the multiple questions that need to be answered, give some room for the student to choose a research path based on their own interests.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The student should have an interest in US History and women's and gender history; the ideal student will have taken at least one History, Women's Studies, Africana Studies, American Studies (especially Indigenous studies), or Global Nineteenth Studies course, though this is not a requirement. Curiosity, he capacity to use Excel and a very basic knowledge of statistics is needed. Good math skills are a plus.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

I will ask the student to make a brief presentation to HIST/WMST 260 in fall 2022 and help workshop and lead a discussion with that class of students.

Project Location

I will be in residence at Vassar but am flexible about the Ford Scholar's location. In-person would be terrific and would permit more personal interaction that is possible on Zoom, but the collaboration can be done by Zoom so it is the student's choice.

Project Duration

Four weeks

Project Start Date

May 31, 2022

Project End Date

June 24, 2022

Wayne Soon (History)

Project Description

This project aims to unpack the history of healthcare and society in China from 1949 to 1979 through the lens of Chinese medical personnel’s education, motivation, and remuneration. The project aims to understand how and why people become medical doctors, nurses, and technicians in the Maoist period. It seeks to understand better how medical personnel experienced biomedical and Chinese medical training from formal schooling and informal training. The project also aims to contextualize the broader political campaigns such as the Patriotic Health Campaign, Anti Schistosomiasis Campaign, and the barefoot doctors in the lives of medical students and personnel over time. Finally, it hopes to uncover how medical personnel was compensated for their work during the Maoist period.

Preliminary research suggests that barefoot doctors appreciated the abundant workpoints (gongfen) they received as a significant incentive to keep serving the people. The Maoist state gradually introduced workpoints in place of actual monetary salaries as part of a broader campaign to weaken the connection between income and occupations to create an egalitarian society. In sum, this project aims to collect historical materials relating to this topic. Materials could include oral history collections, newspaper articles, medical documents, financial statements, pay slips, local gazetteers, novels and poems, government documents, posters, and so on to explore the relationship between work points, remuneration, medical training, and medical care in postwar China.

Anticipated Project Activities

Before research commences, the instructor will share with the student briefly the history of medicine in China from the 1960s to the 1980s, as well as how to do historical research in China. The student will then visit provincial and municipal libraries in China and utilize their electronic and physical databases to find documents relating to workpoints, physicians, and medicine from the 1950s to the early 1980s. These documents may include oral history collections, newspaper articles, local gazetteers, autobiographies, fictional novels and poems, medical texts, pay slips, government documents, and posters. The student will photocopy/photograph and share relevant materials with the instructor. The student can choose to write a paper or complete a creative project with the materials they have found if they wish.

Depending on the student’s interests, the student might want to conduct oral history interviews of barefoot doctors or visit local archives to mine for materials. These suggested activities may change depending on the evolving COVID situation and research conditions in June 2022.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

It is preferred that the student have a command of intermediate or advanced Mandarin Chinese (at least 1,500 characters with the help of a dictionary), type Chinese characters on a word processor, and have physical access to libraries in mainland China. The ability to speak Mandarin Chinese is a plus. The completion of an Asian Studies, History, or STS class is also a plus, but not necessary.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

With the instructor’s help, students can write a paper based on the materials they have found through their research and submit it to an undergraduate history or Asian Studies journal for publication. Alternatively, they can complete a creative project of their own choosing based on the materials collected.

Project Location

Full Remote. Student will work primarily in China, and I will be advising, instructing, and meeting with them via Zoom.

Project Duration

Four weeks

Project Start Date

June 01, 2022

Project End Date

June 30, 2022

Philosophy

Jeffrey Seidman (PHIL/ENST)

Project Description

The Ford Scholar will work with me to research and build a website for my course, ENST 162, “Climate Solutions and Climate Careers: Finding your Place in the Climate Fight.” The website will be public-facing, so that it can serve as a resource not only for the class, but also for the interested public. The website will provide an interactive, analytic map of the landscape of current and future climate solutions, from industrial technologies to agricultural practices, and of career paths that can find, implement or accelerate these solutions.

Anticipated Project Activities

The Ford Scholar will be involved both in researching content for the site and in designing and building the website.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The ideal candidate will have strong research skills, some comfort handling STEM content, and some web-design experience. However, I expect that the candidate will have to develop some of these skills during the course of the project.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

All going well, I will offer the Ford Scholar the opportunity to continue as my research assistant in Fall of 2022, when I will teach ENST 162. In this role, the student could serve in a role something like a teaching assistant, helping other students to find resources relevant to their research interests. If the Scholar is interested, I could also support their participation in conferences in climate technology, climate entrepreneurship, and climate policy.

Project Location

Remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 06, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

Osman Nemli (Philosophy)

Project Description

The following Ford Scholars project aims for curricular development at three levels: (1) a high school course on critical thinking, focusing on philosophical readings; (2) a reading list geared towards students transitioning from community colleges to liberal arts institutions; and (3) a first-year writing seminar at Vassar College, explicitly focusing on ""philosophies of pedagogy"".

The project is simultaneously interested in developing a ""philosophy of pedagogy"" — by showcasing various different philosophical approaches towards teaching — along with providing a high-school curriculum for philosophical education and critical thinking. To explain: critical thinking is a pivotal moment of high school and undergraduate education. This project endeavors to contribute to a high school curriculum in the U.S. that has been lacking in intro to philosophy and critical thinking courses, while also developing a course focusing on various pedagogical platforms and methods. 

The first two weeks of the project will be focused on research and reading on philosophical education in a U.S. context. The third week will continue the resarch in order to assemble a reading list of various pedagogical methods — different schools of pedagogical thought — in the U.S.. The fourth and fifth week will focus on assembling an introduction to critical thinking / introduction to philosophy course for high school students in the U.S.. Part of this project will also be geared towards developing such a curriculum for online (self-)educational purposes. The sixth and seventh weeks will be focused on coming up with syllabi and activities for both the first-year-writing seminar on ""philosophies of pedagogy"" and an undergraduate course on critical thinking (introduction to philosophy). The final week is devoted to wrap up, and summary evaluations. This Ford Scholars program thus aims at: ""philosophies of pedagogy"" as much as a ""pedagogy for philosophy"". While the former is for a first-year writing seminar at Vassar College, the latter aims for the development of a high school curriculum in philosophy. 

Anticipated Project Activities

— An archive of various syllabi devoted to philosophies of pedagogy.
— A research archive documenting the place and role of philosophy in the U.S.Development of high school philosophy curriculum.
— Development of college first-year writing course on ""philosophies of pedagogy"".
— Mentoring high school students.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

— Strong research and organization skills.
— Ability to work alone, and provide summary surveys.
— Attention to detail.
— A major in the humanities (preferably majoring in Philosophy, Education, and/or English).

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

— A paper co-authored by faculty member and student associate submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.
— Presentation of findings at conferences focusing on: (1) teaching philosophy, (2) development of curriculum, (3) philosophical pedagogies.
— Presentation at high school(s) regarding possible high school philosophy curriculum. 
— A paper authored by the student alone submitted to an undergraduate journal in philosophy.

Project Location

Hybrid

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 13, 2022

Project End Date

August 05, 2022

Political Science

Taneisha Means (Political Science)

Project Description

In 2018, I received a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Law and Social Sciences program to collect data on political representation in state courts. My grant project goals include surveying all Black state court judges, surveying an equal number of White state court judges, and interviewing about 100 Black and White state court judges. These surveys and interviews asked judges to discuss their upbringings, childhood and young adult life experiences, pre-bench lives, identities, judgeships, judicial behavior, perspectives, and opinions.

The data collection for this project concluded during summer 2021. Now, it is time to organize, clean, and analyze the data.

This summer, I want to work with a ford scholar to organize, clean, and analyze the survey and interview data. I would like the scholar to help with analyzing the survey and interview data, writing up the results, and disseminating the results of the data via professional presentations and publications. There will be an opportunity to co-author at least one journal manuscript.

Anticipated Project Activities

The summer Ford Scholar(s) will engage in the following activities with Professor Means:

First, plan; read and discuss some of the relevant judicial politics research to develop an understanding of the research topics we will focus on during the summer; study the survey and interview questionnaires used in the study; participate in a workshop on quantitative and qualitative research methods (1st and 2nd weeks).

Second, organize, clean, and analyze the survey data ; also determine co-authorship project (3rd-5th weeks)

Third, organize, clean, and analyze the interview data; make progress on co-authorship project (6th-8th weeks)

Fourth, discuss presentations (classroom and Ford Scholars conference) based on data analysis and research experience; submit co-authorship project for publication to a political science journal (8th week)

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Strong interest in judicial politics, the project, and social science research generally.
High professional and personal motivation, self-management, and attention-to-detail
Strong ability to take responsibility in meeting deadlines and making progress with and without direct supervision
Experience using Stata (preferred), or at least a willingness to learn new software (e.g., NVivo and Stata)
Strong existing computer skills with Microsoft Office
Interest in mentorship and professional development

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

To demonstrate the synergy that can exist between teaching and research, the Ford Scholar(s) and Professor Means will work together to create a presentation using the data for a Fall 2022 presentation. The Ford scholar(s) will be invited as a guest speaker(s) to my classes to present some of the research findings and to share their research experience. If interested, the scholar(s) will also be asked to attend and present at a professional conference with Professor Means during the 2022-2023 academic year and coauthor at least one paper that draws on the data collected this summer.

Project Location

In-person, if possible because I would like to wrk closely with the student who will be organizing, cleaning, and analyzing the survey and interview data.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 05, 2022

Project End Date

July 29, 2022

Fubing Su (Political Science)

Project Description

China’s economic rise has stimulated many exciting debates among political economists. One popular explanation is the tournament competition hypothesis. Some prominent scholars, including philosophers, economists, sociologists, and political scientists, believe that the Chinese Communist Party has introduced a meritocratic system. Through the top-down nomenklature system, the central government has signed contracts with local government officials, detailing
specific growth targets, such as GDP growth rate, tax revenues, foreign direct investments, exports, etc. Local leaders who are able to promote faster growth have a higher probability of advancing to superior positions. This tournament competition allows the central government to select the most competent officials to manage the economy. This explains China’s high growth in the past four decades. If true, this model would fundamentally challenge some consensus in the political economy literature. It is generally believed that democratic elections, because of their
openness, can select more talented individuals to govern the country and the economy. Authoritarian leaders, on the other hand, often place their cronies and clients into government leadership positions. If a one-party state like China can achieve meritocracy, its model may offer some valuable lessons for other developing countries that are desperate for economic growth and development.

Therefore, getting the Chinese development story right has huge theoretical and policy implications. This project examines the core piece of the tournament competition argument: official promotion. In particular, it contrasts the meritocratic view with an existing argument about Chinese politics: factional politics. Scholars have long argued that Chinese leaders must build their factions to survive fierce political struggles. This requires them to promote factional members to key government positions. To test these two competing hypotheses, this project builds a database of provincial and prefectural government officials, including biographical information of age, gender, birthplace, ethnicity, education, party affiliation, and all positions throughout their careers. This will allow us to code all officials’ career path (promotion or demotion) and their network/factional ties. Economic performance information (GDP and taxation) will also be collected.

Anticipated Project Activities

*Collect biographical information from the web
*Merging the provincial and prefectural official databases
*Identify social network ties among officials
*Implementing statistical tests

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

*political economy background preferred
*statistical analysis background preferred
*Chinese language preferred but not essential
*data management experience preferred
*python/R

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The empirical results will be the basis for a few articles. They will be presented in various conferences, such as American Political Science annual meeting, midwestern political science annual meeting, and regional meetings for Asian Studies. Students can participate in the full process of write-up and publication as co-authors.

Project Location

hybrid would be good, particularly if some ideal candidates can only work remotely.

Project Duration

Four weeks

Project Start Date

May 23, 2022

Project End Date

June 20, 2022

Psychological Science

Michele Tugade (Psychological Science)

Project Description

Resilience is characterized by effective coping and the ability to adapt and recover from the negative consequences of stress on health and wellbeing (Bonanno, 2004; Masten, 2007; Skodol, 2010, Tugade, 2011). It is further defined as the ability to thrive despite personal and social stressors (Steinhardt & Dolbier, 2008). My program of research on resilience consists of two main areas. The first examines the components of resilience, including the acquisition of personal skills to achieve positive outcomes for mental health. In my empirical work, my students and I examine several markers of resilience, among them: self-compassion, gratitude, growth mindset, and goal agility.
A Ford Scholar will assist in the second main area of my research, which examines applications of resilience research across several domains. Through empirical research and interviews, the Ford Scholar(s) and I will focus our work on investigating how themes in positive psychology (e.g., mindfulness, gratitude, growth mindset) are exemplified in the lives of individuals characterized by “optimal resilience.” My Ford Scholar(s) will help to develop a curriculum that teaches resilience skills to individuals across a number of social domains (students, educators, organizational leaders, executive leaders). The overall aim is to teach evidence-based strategies to improve mental health and well-being through personal stories shared by a few “resilience experts” themselves.

Anticipated Project Activities

The Ford Scholar will compile and summarize current literature on resilience across generations, and help to identify key individuals to interview about their “resilience stories.” In my research and professional activities, I have worked with a number of different groups who my Ford Scholar and I can contact. Possible groups include: students coping with covid-related stress, NASA astronauts, military veterans, executive leaders, individuals successfully recovering from substance abuse, students from post-genocide Rwanda). The Ford Scholars will develop interview questions, conduct the interviews, and synthesize narratives from the “resilience stories” compiled during this project for presentation and curriculum design.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Research skills (data collection, data analysis, coding of responses)
Organization
Interview skills
Writing skills
Creativity

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The Ford Scholar will help to develop a curriculum that teaches resilience skills to individuals across a number of social domains (students, educators, organizational leaders, executive leaders). The overall aim is to teach evidence-based strategies to improve mental health and well-being from personal stories shared by a few “resilience experts” themselves. The student will gain professional development skills by conducting interviews with key individuals. The student scholar will also gain valuable public speaking and presentation skills through the opportunity to lecture and help facilitate workshops. Finally, the student will help to develop post-session assessment questions to collect feedback about the resilience program.

Project Location

Full Remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 06, 2022

Project End Date

July 25, 2022

Religion

Michael Walsh (Religion)

Project Description

“China Reimagined” actually began as a first year writing seminar. I will continue to develop the seminar – using the same themes listed below – but the primary focus of the Ford project will be a book manuscript. The project is inspired by the cosmological importance of the luoshu (洛書), an ancient chart from the Luo River depicting a nine-squared square that came to represent, and in fact, be China. This book project is organized around nine themes, social formations really, through which I will tell a history – not the history – of China. These themes (they are also living, breathing categories) are as follows: territory, opium, city, temple, gods, text, home, body, and food. Consequently, this book project is eclectic by design; it is not a comprehensive, chronological history, which attempts to thoroughly capture thousands of years of China’s histories, an impossible task in any case. Rather, it is a work of synthesis. Through these nine categories, I plan to explore both alternative and traditional ways of thinking through China’s imperial and modern histories.

Anticipated Project Activities

In addition to finding and compiling an extensive range of secondary texts on the above-mentioned nine categories, I also need to locate a broad range of primary and secondary texts in Chinese. The bulk of the activities will involve extensive research in the library and online. The student will be looking for articles, books, texts in classical and modern Chinese, hence my preferred qualifications below. There will also be a lot of sifting through materials and deciding what to use. That alone will take considerable time.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Patience, determination, analytical skills, creativity are all needed. Also, the ability to read Chinese will be essential.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Visits/lectures in my first year writing seminar when I teach it again. Should I give a talk at conference on the book project, I would like the student to be able to attend and share their experience.

Project Location

Hybrid in some cases, but mostly in-person. I plan to be near campus most of the time. Depending on Covid I may travel for a week, but would still meet with the student on Zoom.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 01, 2022

Project End Date

July 27, 2022