Sara Yitzchaki '20, "Assessing Meanings of Stigma within the Experience of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Members in the Lehigh Valley"
Advisor: Dr. Akbar Keshodkar
The research seeks to explore meanings attributed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members to their AA identity and notions of stigma by examining their experiences in various social spaces. In particular, the research seeks to understand how through the AA identity, notions of stigma are shaped, and how it influences the participants' interactions inside the AA community and outside. The meanings participants assigned to their AA identity and stigma were explored through semi-structured interviews and participant observations in AA groups in Hellertown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This research reveals that participants frame their AA identity through the AA narrative, which in turn shapes specific notions of stigma. The research highlights the intersection of the participants' AA identity and other identities as a complex and contradictory relationship at times, characterized by the participants' renegotiation between their desire to escape notions of stigma and perceived meanings of their AA identity.
Nina DePalma '17, "Are We Truly the “Land of the Free?” Mass Incarceration, Prison Reform, and the MacArthur Foundation"
Advisor: Dr. Virginia Adams O'Connell
The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any developed nation in the world. With over 2 million people in prisons and jails, it is becoming an issue of attraction for activists, humanitarians and politicians alike. The United States has developed a prison-industrial complex, which is explored by using sociologist Charles Wright Mills’s theory of the Power Elite. Looking to alleviate the condition of the criminal justice system, in this case specifically in Philadelphia, the MacArthur Foundation has given 3.5 million dollars to the city. This money aims to reduce the incarcerated population by 34% as well as address racial and ethnic disparities. This paper uses a journalistic approach to explore connections between the power elite, prison industrial complex, the issue of mass incarceration and the MacArthur Grant in Philadelphia.
Stephanie Canate ’17, “Predictors of Abstinence"
Advisor: Dr. Debra Wetcher-Henricks
This Honors project investigates attempts to connect two currently unrelated lines of study to identify particular personalities and past experiences common among college students who abstain from drug use, alcohol use, and sexual activity. One set of findings, stemming from Self-Control Theory (Hirshi & Gottfedson 2000) and Ego Depletion Theory (Levy 2014) claims that the socio-personal characteristics of fear and traditional beliefs are closely associated with levels of self-control. Another set of findings identifies an association between levels of the same socio-personal characteristics and degrees of abstinence among college students (Merril et al. 2005, Rosenberg 2008, Mbotho, et al. 2013, Grimaldi, et al. 2016). But, each of these studies has used separate samples of subjects. This study determines whether these two sets of findings can apply to the same individuals, meaning level of self-control can predict degree of abstinence, with SPCs acting as a mediating factor. Data, gathered through surveys containing Guttman Scale and typology items, provided measures of college students’ levels of self-control, SPCs and abstinence.
Jordan Sweeney '17, "The Role of Physical Activity in the Overall College Experience: How Students and Athletic Directors Perceive the Challenges and Benefits of Staying Physically Active while in College
Advisor: Dr. Virginia Adams O'Connell
This Honor's Project investigates the correlation between physical activity and the overall college experience for students. We define "quality" of the college experience in terms of students' academic performance, an assessment of their relationships with classmates, faculty, and staff at their institution, students' general health, and students' reports of their own happiness. We are doing this through student surveys, a focus group interview with students, and one-on-one interviews with athletic and fitness directors at the participating institutions. This study is being conducted with the hope that we can provide the directors from participating institutions with useful information for continued promotion of healthy and happy lifestyles to their students.