HSOC Undergraduate Research Symposium Spotlights Environmental History and Community Engagement
Posted December 2, 2021
The bi-annual HSOC Undergraduate Research Symposium on Wednesday, Dec. 1, brought together a diverse group of students and wide array of research topics. Undergraduates in Assistant Professor Germán Vergara's capstone class on global environmental history and Assistant Professor Allen Hyde's capstone class on equity & community engagement presented their work, as well as those doing independent research with faculty.
The projects included third-year student Olivia Villanova's research on Sustainability in Vogue: A Cultural History of Sustainable Fashion. "Fashion has a very long connection to the environment," she said in her presentation. "What I wanted to look at was, how has the concept of sustainable fashion evolved over time?"
Fourth-year student Teresa Muñoz used her great-grandparents' farm in Cuba as a case study for her research on Sugarcane and National Identity in Matanzas, Cuba 1880 to 1960. "Her [great grandmother's] testimony through oral history is what really motivated me to explore this topic," she said. Muñoz explained that the narrative around sugarcane in Cuba was often American-centric, and she wanted to share another side of the story. "I wanted to show the Cuban people were not passive in their history; they played a very important role," she said.
Fifth-year student Jake Windham also found his research topic close to home: at his work in fine dining. Spending time with the sommelier at his job inspired him to learn more about American wine — specifically, wine in Napa Valley. His research on The Judgement of Napa: An Environmental History of California Wine examined how events such as prohibition affected the industry in the past and how climate change may affect it in the future. "Wine expresses its environment and the human tradition more than anything else," he said in his presentation. "And also, it tastes good."
Students in Associate Professor Carla Gerona's class on Digital History and Early America also presented the story maps they created this semester. They examined old publications from the Revolutionary War, such as the Georgia Gazette, and used software to map the information they found, creating visual depictions of battle routes, the origins of trade goods, and more. Others from Hyde's class presented their contributions to his ongoing community-partnership projects Youth Mobility and Participatory Action Research in Clarkston, GA, and Disaster Resilience and Youth Advocacy in Savannah, GA.
The capstone class and symposium gives students the opportunity to learn how to do research, write in-depth papers, and present it in an engaging and understandable way, said Vergara. In total, 20 students presented their work at the 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium. See the complete list of students and their topics here.
The event was a collaboration between Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies Jennifer Singh, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies Amy D'Unger, Vergara, Hyde, and staff members in the School. The next symposium will occur in Spring 2022 with students from Professor John Tone's capstone class on the enlightenment.
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