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Sociology and Anthropology



Honors Projects

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.

SOAR Projects


Multisensory Phonics Intervention for Students At-Risk for Reading Development

Jessica Hergenrother '18 worked with small groups of struggling students on foundational reading skills like letter-sound correspondence and spelling.

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Tourism and Poverty: The Effects of Rural Tourism on Homeless and Impoverished Communities on The Oregon Coast

Bettyjo Labare '20 conducted ethnographic research by looking at the local community in Newport and its interactions with the tourism industry. 

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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

In his SOAR research, Jordan Sweeney '17 aims to understand the challenges that students face trying to stay physically active while in college

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Cliques And Diversity Among Students In Various Institutions

In his SOAR research, Max Korten '16 focuses on cliques among college students, and looks for correlation with institution size. 

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Teams, Tones, and Tensions

Victoria Alupke '17 dives into the potential conflict between athletes and non-athletes, especially among minority students on college campuse

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The Unauthorized Autobiography of Bethlehem Pennsylvania

Dylan Grubb '16 the study of Bethlehem's socioeconomic history as a way to demonstrate how different economic systems work in small scale democracies.

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Supporting Radicalism in Contemporary Zanzibar

Akbar Keshodkar, assistant professor of anthropology, in the departments of history and sociology, shares his research into the rise of radicalism in Zanzibar at the February 4 Faculty Luncheon.

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Joel Nathan Rosen, Associate Professor of Sociology, Does Battle at the Battle of Ideas

He served on a panel titled, “Moneyball or Mourinho: Is sport seeing a big data revolution?” which was a staged debate over the value of data analysis vs the experience and personality of successful coaches.

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Analyzing Quantitative Data: An Introduction for Social Researchers by Debra Wetcher-Hendricks

Wetcher-Hendricks, associate professor of sociology, has written an accessible, practical guide to the key quantitative processes and the use of software for analyzing data to draw valid conclusions from a research project.

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