2021 Project Proposals

Art

Project Description

There have long been vague rumors that Frederick Law Olmsted, known as the father of American Landscape Architecture, contributed ideas for the masterplan of Vassar’s bucolic campus. But other than an 1868 letter to his wife saying that he visited Vassar, which has “a miserable plan to be amended,” virtually no evidence of his involvement has come to light. This research project tackles the issue of what Olmsted, his colleagues, and his firm contributed to Vassar’s design.

The upcoming bicentenary of Olmsted’s birth in 2022 is an important impetus for this project. The National Association of Olmsted Parks (NAOP) asked if Vassar can contribute something about Olmsted’s involvement on the campus, which I agreed to do. I have begun doing research, with help from students in my intensive on the Vassar Campus (CLCS/Art 120) last fall. But much remains to be done, and it needs to happen this year.

It emerges that the Olmsted firm was involved at Vassar during two periods: one, from the founding of the college in 1861 to the end of Frederick Law Olmsted’s lifetime (d. 1903), and another from 1929-33, when Percival (Percy) Gallagher, partner in the firm with Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., was appointed Consulting Landscape Architect to Vassar. In the first phase, the Olmsted firm may have contributed ideas about the siting and layout of the Dormitory Quad. In the second, Gallagher added to the growing arboretum, and contributed to landscape design around the newly-built Skinner Hall and the so-called Euthenics Quad (comprising Blodgett, Cushing, Kenyon and Wimpfheimer). He also made recommendations for circulation on the Rock Lot – the site on the corner of Raymond Avenue and College Avenue, which currently comprises Alumnae House, Williams House, and the green.

I have identified sources of information, from which it remains to gather and analyze unpublished documents and drawings, to understand how the ideas of Olmsted and his firm shaped the campus. Moreover, both Olmsted Senior and Percy Gallagher were important designers of campus landscape at other schools and institutions; it will also be important to do secondary research to interpret their ideas for Vassar in broader socio-cultural context.

Anticipated Project Activities

  • Research, gathering, and organization of unpublished materials from libraries and archives, including the Olmsted Archives in Brookline, MA; the Library of Congress; the Percival Gallagher Archive in Indianapolis; and the Vassar Special Collections Library. (Most of the outside institutions have scanned material that is available electronically, so the project can move forward, even if the pandemic limits access to Vassar’s Special Collections.)
  • Analysis of architectural and landscape design drawings
  • Analysis of archival documents related to the design projects
  • Drawing schematics and maps
  • Creating posts and media for a website I am preparing to launch for the Vassar Campus course
  • Writing an essay to send to the NAOP for the Olmsted bicentenary
  • Drafting an article for submission to a journal

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • Demonstrated research skills in the history of architecture, and landscape, including using library resources, databases, and doing archival work
  • Advanced coursework in history of art, architecture, and landscape
  • Ability to analyze architectural and landscape design drawings
  • Excellent writing skills, including experience writing papers about the history of the built environment
  • Ability to do basic architectural drafting
  • Excellent visual and design skills
  • Experience designing and working with Wordpress

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

I would like for the student to collaborate in writing an article for submission to a journal. This activity will extend beyond the summer; we will continue the writing, submission, revisions, preparation of illustrations, and securing image rights to produce the article. I will also ask the student to lead a class meeting of my course on the Vassar Campus in fall 2021 to discuss the process of research we undertook, and the findings. We would also prepare and present a campus wide lecture in connection with the Olmsted bicentennial. This project will give the student experience with the development and presentation of research at many stages, and the integration of research and teaching.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—Hybrid. The student and I can mostly work remotely and meet via zoom. Some library work and archival research may take place in person if possible; but if not, there is enough digitally available material to undertake the project.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 30, 2021

Chinese & Japanese

Project Description

During the Asian Pacific War (1931–1945) the Imperial Japanese military coerced an extremely large number of women into the “comfort stations” to be the troops’ sex slaves. Most of these women died during their captivity, and the handful survivors were kept silent in the postwar social political environments for decades. This hideous atrocity remained largely unknown until the 1990s when the survivors broke their silence during the international “comfort women” justice movement. One branch of my research in recent years has been on the experiences of Chinese “comfort women” under the military sexual slavery system. The Ford Scholar will assist me in documenting the testimonies I collected during field research in the past two years.

Anticipated Project Activities

  • To transcribe the recordings of interviews and testimonies.
  • To translate the transcribed texts into English.
  • To verify the recorded information and conduct further research on the historical contexts of the testimonies.
  • To create English subtitles of the video recordings.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • Native or near-native proficiency in Cantonese and Mandarin.
  • Strong Research skills.
  • Good English writing ability.
  • Experiences in video editing.
  • Some coursework in Asian Studies would be a plus.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

In addition to presenting a project report at the Ford Scholars Symposium, with the help of the instructor the student can write a paper based on the materials collected through the research and submit it to an undergraduate Asian Studies conference or journal.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—Mostly Remote; In-person only on occasions when we need come to campus to retrieve and return materials.

Project Duration

Six weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 16, 2021

Economics

Project Description

The purpose of this project is to assess the macroeconomic impact of some immigration reforms that have been recently proposed in the U.S. The project will consider reforms included in (former) President Trump’s “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018” as well as reforms proposed by President-elect Joe Biden as part of his “Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants.”

The project’s end goal is to assess these reforms using a rigorous model (rigorous meaning that it is able to replicate some key micro and macroeconomic facts) of the U.S. economy. There are three key steps in the project. First, collecting and analyzing data to document the key facts that the model will replicate. Second, constructing a model of the U.S. economy that is able to replicate the documented facts. Third, using the model to answer the questions of interest by conducting counterfactual experiments (i.e. what would the model predict if reform x is enacted).

Anticipated Project Activities

My expectation is that the student will work on collecting and analyzing data to document the key facts that the model will replicate. This will require the student to read several research papers about immigration reforms in the U.S. (reforms enacted in the past and those that are currently being proposed) and the impact of immigration in the U.S. labor market. The main purpose of this exercise is to ensure that the student has a strong understanding of the issue at hand. The student will also collect (and clean) micro- and macroeconomic data related to the immigration population in the U.S. Some of the data sources that the student will use include the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Finally, the student will use the collected data to identify differences in wealth, income, earnings, occupation, and education level between immigrants and non-immigrants in the U.S.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The necessary qualifications include an interest in immigration 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

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—Hybrid. I would prefer to conduct the project in-person if circumstances allow me to do so, but I can make it work remotely as well.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

Project Description

Illness in childhood can adversely impact human capital accumulation and labor market outcomes. Prior to the approval of the measles vaccination in the United States in 1963, 95-percent of individuals in the United States contracted measles before the age of 16. Measles causes immune amnesia, meaning individuals are more susceptible to all illnesses in the years after contracting the measles. Therfore, children that receive the measles vaccine have a healthier childhood than if they did not receive the vaccine. My previous US based research finds that long-term follow up of adults indicates an increase in income of 1.3-percent for adults that coincides with exposure to the measles vaccine. This increase in income is not from an increase in hours worked, but rather from greater productivity. I seek to replicate these results in other settings. My Ford Scholar project this summer will involve findings and gathering data on historical measles vaccination policies and uptake at the time the measles vaccine was licensed for use (1963) for other countries (i.e., England, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, South Africa, etc.). Once we have an understanding of other nations vaccination policy and the data that exists for vaccine uptake, we will move onto finding and linking this data with adult outcomes (i.e., income, health status, and educational attainment). After data linkage we will then set up and run causal models to quantify the human capital impact of the measles vaccination.

Research measles vaccination policy and distribution in a number of nations. This will include identifying the national and regional vaccination policies and then finding data on how many, where, and at what time vaccinations were administered. The student will create this data set.

Identify secondary data sources that contain adult outcomes that can be linked to vaccination policies in each country.

Anticipated Project Activities

  • Clean the data on measles vaccinations and adult outcomes and link the two data sources.
  • Describe the merged data in figures and tables.
  • Estimate causal models for the impact of measles vaccination.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • A willingness to question
  • Stata will be used for this project—I have a presence for someone with some pre-existing programing ability (R, stata, SAS, python, etc.) but it not required 
  • Strong attention to detail

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Throughout the summer the Economics Department hosts a weekly Brown Bag Seminar for summer students. They are each expected to present during the seminar on their project. This is done to foster community, provide support for each other, and gain insight and hands on experience in the full research process. Faculty participate in the seminar as well.

I would like those that work on my project to come and speak about their experience to my ECON 102 course to show to an intro class some of the real world policy evaluation work that economists are doing.

If we get to the point of producing causal estates this summer the student(s) will be asked if they would like to be co-authors on the eventual paper that will result form this preliminary work. This could also mean presenting the work at a conference in the future."

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—This project can accommodate in-person, full remote, or hybrid. I am willing to work in whichever way fits the public health needs of the community and the student's preference. I feel this flexibility on my part will allow for a wider and more inclusive applicant pool.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 30, 2021

Project Description

Over the last 70 years, nearly 80 percent of job growth occurred in just 10 percent of counties. This increased spatial concentration of employment has large consequences for wages and welfare. Over this period, industries relocated and the U.S. economy transitioned from the majority of workers working in manufacturing to working in services. This project will explore this transitionary period in the U.S. economy, which shaped cities and regions. Specifically, the project will focus on the development of a dataset with wage and employment information by industry, and empirical analysis into the larger trends in industrial growth across locations over the second half of the twentieth century.

Anticipated Project Activities

Part of the data for this project is currently available in pdf form, which needs to be converted into a usable dataset. The first project task is to OCR scan these documents and export them to Excel. This process isn’t perfect and in order to catch mistakes, we will develop code that identifies potentially problematic values from the OCR scan. Once we have scanned and corrected the exported data, we will focus on combining the wage and employment information into a master dataset and performing some preliminary analysis.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Experience working with Excel and either 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 regional development over the 20th century in Econ 318, Urban Economics, in the fall of 2021.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—In-Person, but the project can easily be adjusted to hybrid or remote if necessary.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

Project Description

The COVID-19 global pandemic presents the largest systematic and exogenous shock to the airline industry to date. This proposed project studies the impact of the pandemic on price and non-price competition in the U.S. airline industry. We will explore spatial and temporal variations of new cases, deaths and lockdown episodes and relate them to airline operations at route-level defined as directional airport pairs. Competition outcomes of particular interest include price dispersion (i.e., the dispersion of airfare on a given route), on-time performance, and routing decisions (i.e., entry/exit on a given route). The project will contribute to existing literature on airline competition, enhance our understanding of the economic impact of the pandemic, and help inform government policies such as industry-specific relief bills.

Anticipated Project Activities

Literature search, literature review, data collection (potentially web-scrapping based), data processing (cleaning and merging), and preliminary descriptive statistics and/or regression analyses.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Prior coursework in statistics and/or econometrics, microeconomic theory and/or advanced microeconomics, industrial organization; proficiency in LaTeX, Stata, R, Python; prior experience with web scrapping; strong 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

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY–Full remote (may change to hybrid as situation allows)

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 30, 2021

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 fear affects out-group bias, 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

The ultimate goal is to publish the work in a professional journal. Ford scholars in the past have presented our work at professional conferences in Boston and Miami.

Project Location

Full Remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

Project Description

This project will investigate differences in firm outcomes (profits, sales etc.) by the gender of the firm owner. We will be analyzing data and reading papers from all over the world, but will have a particular focus on low-income countries.

This project will achieve four primary goals: 1) Improve understanding of the global business and policy environment for women-owned enterprises; 2) Increase the knowledge of facts, trends, and predictors of the gender profit gap at the global level; 3) Synthesize existing research and evidence on gender gaps in entrepreneurship and enterprise performance; and 4) Deeply explore the gender profitability gap in Ethiopia.

This work is part of a larger collaborative project with the Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA) from Ethiopia, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) from the United Arab Emirates, Vassar College from the United States, and College of Development Studies (CoDS) of Addis Ababa University (AA) from Ethiopia.

Anticipated Project Activities

Activities for this project will fall into two major categories. One will include reading academic and policy papers about women-owned enterprises and summarizing and collating information. Second, we will use statistical software to analyze data. We will create summary statistics tables and figures to convey information about differences in firm performance by gender for different countries.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Preferred student skills include: strong organizational skills, proficient in Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint. Some familiarity of programming languages (R, python, Stata etc.) is preferred but not required. Bilingual applicants are strongly encouraged to apply (particularly those that know Spanish, Hindi, Hausa, Bengali, Modern Standard Arabic).

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The student(s) will be given the opportunity to guest lecture for my Development Economics course (Fall 2021), explaining this study and presenting our findings. They will also be asked to create an assignment for students that is based on the data used in this research. Thus, the student will gain teaching experience in a multitude of ways (lecture and assignment building).

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—In Person. I plan on being on campus in person all summer. If the student is remote that is okay, but if possible they can also be in person.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

Project Description

Secure Communities is a federal program which began in 2008 and aimed to expedite the removal of non-citizens with criminal records. The program led to a large increase in deportations, almost all of which were young and middle-age men. These removals likely had a larger impact on immigrant women from similar origin countries, as endogamous, or intra-ethnic marriage is the dominant form of partnership among first, and in some cases, second generation immigrants in the U.S. Using unique data on deportations by country of origin and location in the U.S., we plan to estimate the impact of these deportations on women who stay in the U.S. We also hope to explore the impact of deportations on networks, as there is evidence these may have changed due to rising levels of fear and uncertainty following the policy.

Anticipated Project Activities

The project has a data and writing component. The data component will involve using publicly available datasets to construct different measures of outcomes for immigrant women in the U.S. and linking this to data on deportations under Secure Communities. Through this work the student will become familiar with well-known datasets in the U.S. and learn how to use them for analysis. The student also will learn about the econometric challenges of identifying the impact of policy on specific outcomes.

The writing component will involve a literature review of on the impacts of different immigrant enforcement policies in the U.S. It also will involve writing an explanation of any analysis. This will provide the student with a valuable opportunity to practice describing data and the results of data analysis. The goal is for the student to leave with a written piece of the work that can be used as a writing sample.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The student needs to know Stata or R.

 

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The economics department has organized a weekly brownbag over the summer, in which Ford Scholars and faculty present work in progress. We have done this for several years, and its been a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about each other’s projects, share common challenges and successes, and generally see how projects evolve. It also is a good way for students to practice presenting in front of an audience."

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—I will be on campus, but can work with a student who is in-person or remote.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 30, 2021

Education

Project Description

Between 2001 and 2003, the New York City Board of Education recruited 1,500 Black, English-speaking teachers from the Caribbean to serve in the city’s urban schools deemed “failing.” The teachers, primarily from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Barbados, arrived to teach in schools said to be “hard to staff,” populated by mostly Black, LatinX and Caribbean students. While the Board targeted Black teachers in their perceptively inclusive recruiting strategy, it bypassed African American teachers in preference for Black international teachers because they needed teachers who could teach math and science and who would be willing to work in the urban center of New York City. According to them, African American teachers were either not trained in math and science or were not willing to live in New York City. In a 2015 report, Broken Promises, the Black Institute which is a Black-led policy and organizing institution working on local issues and serving Black and immigrant communities, wrote about the struggles of these teachers who had been recruited under false pretenses. According to the report, the teachers were promised green cards, masters degrees and other amenities including higher wages than they made in their Caribbean homes in exchange for their labor. Afro Caribbean Women Teachers: Race, Transnational Labor and Decolonial Resistance tells the stories of despair, survival, resistance and hope these teachers experienced as they negotiated their Black, immigrant and teacher identities in the United States.

Anticipated Project Activities

I will ask the students to:

  • Curate a list of Afro-Caribbean K12 teachers
  • Disseminate survey to teachers
  • Enter data from surveys

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Impeccable research skills
  • Someone who is a good communicator with me and possible participants

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Students will be invited to present with me at a national conference. Specifically, in Spring 2021, I will invite them to attend the Comparative and International Education Scholars conference. There may also be an opportunity to publish a paper with me.

Project Location

Full remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

Hispanic Studies

Project Description

Cuba’s history during the last 150 years, its stages as republic and as revolution, often provide touchstones, bona fides, and case studies for many academic disciplines and areas of studies and research at Vassar and elsewhere. History, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, pedagogy, and the arts find illustrative experiences, prototypes, models, comparisons, and correlations to highlight and analyze in their respective courses of study. Regularly, Cuba related films are brought to bear.

Anticipated Project Activities

  • To compile a descriptive and annotated inventory all of the Cuba related films (DVD and Video Cassette) listed in the Vassar library online catalogue.
  • To verify, further research and complete any abbreviated information for each holding, to annotate and closely associate relevant topics, to identify linkages applicable to a variety of disciplines and areas of study,
  • To directly reach out to the films’ creators to appropriately enhance the available data through queries and interviews.
  • To create a searchable online site for students and faculty to access and browse the collection by year, title, director, etc; and to supplement it with film trailers and curated categories such as “Where to Start”; “Reconnecting with Cuba”.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

Ideally, my collaborator on the project would have a nuanced knowledge of Spanish and English grammar and syntax, would be a canny researcher, an assiduous and imaginative work partner. Mastery of online platforms, as well as writing, editing and filming experiences would be a plus.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Student will instruct Research Assistants on the maintenance of the online site.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—Remote / In-person: On ocassion we may come on campus to retrieve and return materials.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 30, 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

The spring semester will see the completion of 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 new chapters and finding suitable illustrations for the students' work. 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.

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 2021-2022 academic year through the sharing of their experiences and skills.

Project Location

New York, NY and Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—Hybrid: We expect to be able to work with the student in person if pandemic conditions allow, but will adapt to the possibilities open to us this coming summer. The work can be done remotely, but working in person would allow us to visit several libraries and collections in New York City, something that would enhance the student's experience.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

History

Project Description

This Ford Project aims to explore how health insurance has shaped medical care and research in postwar China. China sought to provide universal healthcare from 1960 to 1979 by increasing the numbers of commune-level health workers and barefoot doctors. However, cash-strapped ordinary people had to fund much of this medical expansion by paying into the commune-level health insurance program. While many more Chinese people could see a doctor due to top-down directives at expanding care, ordinary people’s care at the local level was uneven. While some communes enjoy better medical treatment over time, other communes struggled to keep up with medical demand due to the lack of resources. In sum, this project aims to collect historical materials relating to this topic. Materials could include oral history collections, newspaper articles, local gazetteers, novels and poems, government documents, posters, and so on, to explore the relationship between health insurance 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 health insurance and commune medicine from the 1950s to the early 1980s. These documents may include oral history collections, newspaper articles, local gazetteers, autobiographies, fictional novels and poems, 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 2021.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

It is preferred that the student can read some Mandarin Chinese (at least 900 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

Project Duration

Four weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 6, 2021

Libraries

Project Description

Following the online exhibit created to commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020, I plan to create a website and study guide that provide access to documentation of the participation of Vassar women in the progressive movement beyond the college in the 1910s and 20s. The site will focus on the work of four women: Lucy Maynard Salmon, History professor, founder and member of several national academic organizations; Laura Wylie, English Professor, suffragist and founder of the Women's City and County Club of Poughkeepsie; Gertrude Buck, English professor and founder of the Poughkeepsie Community Theater; and Katharine Bement Davis (VC 1900), Superintendent of the New York State Reformatory for Women at Bedford Hills, New York, Corrections Commissioner of New York City, and head of the Bureau of Social Hygiene, New York City. This assemblage will require identifying, digitizing, transcribing and indexing manuscript materials and newspaper articles from collections including the Adriance Public Library in Poughkeepsie, NY and the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, in addition to the Vassar College Archives and Special Collections.

Anticipated Project Activities

  • Identifying and indexing historical newspaper and magazine articles.
  • Transcribing digitized manuscripts of letters and other documents.
  • Designing and assembling an online exhibit using Omeka.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • Ability and/or willingness to learn how to decipher early 20th century handwriting.
  • Experience with or willingness to learn to use various digital humanities related software and apps possibly including Hypothesis, an annotation tool; Gephi, a data visualization tool; Omeka, a web publishing platform; and Zotero, a web based bibliographic tool.
  • Good communication skills, willingness to ask questions and do research.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Working with classes that use the website/study guide to do research on this topic, developing a conference presentation and/or journal article on this approach to aiding students doing primary source research. Possibly assist in organizing a symposium on Lucy Maynard Salmon, newspapers and the pedagogical origins of historical empathy, on the occasion of the centennial of her final book, “The Newspaper and the Historian.”

Project Location

Full Remote

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

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.

Over the last few years, with the help of my research assistants, I have been able to survey Black and White state court judges. In the surveys, I asked judges questions about their upbringings, childhood and young adult life experiences, pre-bench lives, identities, judgeships, judicial behavior, perspectives, and opinions. While surveying judges enables us to begin to describe the interests of the broader population of judges, in-depth interviewing will reap the data necessary to understand the nuances of what judges mention in the survey. For this reason, I would like to interview state court judges.

Specifically, this summer (summer 2021), I would like to focus on interviewing about 100 Black and White state court judges. Unfortunately, the topics covered in the survey and interview are understudied empirically, and this is true even when judges reside at the center of our legal and justice systems. This summer, I intend to gather the data that will help us (i.e., academics and concerned citizens) better understand who judges are and what they do. I will use this data in several journal manuscripts related to representation in the judiciary.

This summer, I want to work with ford scholar(s) to interview Black and White judges. I would like the Ford Scholar(s) to help with creating/refining the questionnaires that will be used in the interviews, recruiting judges to participate in the study and be interviewed, conducting the interviews, analyzing the interview data, writing up the results, and disseminating the results of the data via professional presentations and publications.

Anticipated Project Activities

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

  1. 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; create/refine the interview questionnaires to be used in the study; participate in a workshop on qualitative research methods; recruit judges to be interviewed (1st and 2nd weeks).
  2. Interview judges; recruit additional judges to be interviewed; transcribe interviews (3rd, 4th, and 5th weeks)
  3. Participate in a workshop on qualitative data analysis; organize and analyze interview data, and write-up results (6th & 7th weeks)
  4. Discuss presentations (classroom and Ford Scholars conference) based on data analysis and research experience (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
  • Willingness to learn new software (e.g., NVivo) and research methods (e.g., collecting, studying, and evaluating qualitative data)
  • 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 qualitative data for the Fall 2021 POLI 346 course, “Race and Gender in Judicial Politics,” and Fall 2021 POLI 140 course, “Introduction to American Politics.” The Ford scholar(s) will be invited as a guest speaker(s) to the 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 2021–2022 academic year and coauthor at least one paper that draws on the data collected this summer.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—In-person. Aspects of this work require the scholar to be on campus. For instance, the scholar will help recruit additional judges to participate in the study by sending letters. To assist with paper writing, the scholar will also need access to the library’s collection.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 6, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

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 flexible grit.

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 and I will focus our work on investigating how themes in positive psychology (e.g., mindfulness, gratitude, grit) are exemplified in the lives of individuals characterized by “optimal resilience.” My Ford Scholar will help to develop a webinar series 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.

References:

  • Bonanno, G. A. (2004). Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist, 59(1), 20–28.
  • Masten, A. S. (2007). Resilience in developing systems: Progress and promise as the fourth wave rises. Development and Psychopathology, 19(3), 921.
  • Skodol, A. E. (2010). The resilient personality. In J. Reich, A. Zautra, & J. Hall (Eds.), Handbook of adult resilience: Concepts, methods, and applications (pp. 81–93). New York: Guilford.
  • Steinhardt, M. Dolbier, C. (2008). Evaluation of a resilience intervention to enhance coping strategies and protective factors and decrease symptomatology. Journal of American College Health. 56(4), 445-453.
  • Tugade, M. M. (2011). Positive emotions and coping: Examining dual-process models of resilience. In S. Folkman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of stress health coping (pp. 186–199). New York: Oxford University Press.

Anticipated Project Activities

The Ford Scholar will 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: undergraduate 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 in the webinar series.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • Strong Research skills (data collection, data analysis, coding of responses)
  • Excellent organization
  • Ability to work independently
  • Strong communication and interview skills
  • Clear writing ability
  • Some coursework in psychological science

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The Ford Scholar will help to develop a webinar series 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 teach part of the webinar series. Finally, the student will help to develop post-session assessment questions to collect feedback about the webinar series.

Project Location

Full remote: This project involves conducting interviews with individuals in several locations. For health and safety, we will work remotely.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021

Sociology

Project Description

The project consists of three components: participating a team effort to design a curriculum for high school students about the climate crisis and sustainability; participating on a teaching team to administer the curriculum in a three-week intensive course; and conducting individual research projects regarding the climate crisis.

This Ford project will support a collaborative effort with Ford Scholars, the Vassar Exploring College Program, and the Vassar Environmental Cooperative to design and teach a three-week intensive program about the climate crisis and sustainability. The Ford team will participate to design overall curriculum, as well as working on a section for a lecture based online class to provide a foundation for theoretical concepts and case studies, and to formulate research questions. From the beginning of June, we will meet with the project participants to develop a syllabus into understanding the climate crisis and the challenging issues in sustainability projects. We will research and review a broad range of materials before we decide on the class structure and the curriculum. When the classes begin at the beginning of July, the Ford students will shoulder the responsibility of mentoring three high school students each for the duration of this project, as well as participating in all program activities, and working with high school students on their projects. The three weeks intensive teaching program will end in mid-July and the students will be expected to contribute to teaching evaluations and the assessment of the project. Their individual research projects will be integrated into the class presentations.

Anticipated Project Activities

  1. Participating a collaborative effort.
  2. Design and teach a three-week intensive program about climate crisis and sustainability to high school students.
  3. Mentoring high school students.
  4. Individual research project on climate crisis and inequality.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

  • Coursework in Environmental Studies and Sociological thought, especially in exploring the Climate Crisis;
  • Strong communication skills, both orally and in writing;
  • Proven ability to work in large groups as well as independently;
  • Excellent organizational skills;
  • Strong research skills;
  • Vassar Grand Challenges program participants will be preferred.

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

Students’ research will be integrated into my class my 300 level class, “Toxic Futures,” in the Spring.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021