SPOTLIGHT: Sociology Student Louisa Hawkins


This past November, Sociology fourth-year student Louisa Hawkins travelled to Ljubljana, Slovenia to present a paper at an internationally attended interdisciplinary student conference entitled The Other. Her paper, Avoiding “Othering” in the Online Ethnography of Women’s Blogs: The Development of a Feminist Research Ethic, was inspired by research conducted while she was URO (Undergraduate Research Opportunities) Scholar this past summer. Her research was inspired by an interest in both women’s self-publishing and a concern for an ethical approach to social research.

With graduate studies in mind for the near future Louisa gained valuable skills in preparing a competitive abstract and in writing a comprehensive conference length presentation based on a much longer final project paper. She was also able to gain experience in presenting research to, and interacting with, an interdisciplinary academic audience.

Louisa was funded by a Faculty of Arts Student Project Grant, by a Sociology departmental grant, and by Ryerson’s International Department. This generous funding facilitated a unique educational opportunity that built on previous coursework and university involvement and provided valuable networking opportunities. Meeting and presenting alongside a diverse group of MA and PhD students from outside North America was of particular significance to Louisa, who was able to develop several ongoing professional relationships with fellow conference presenters.

While in Slovenia Louisa met several students from the University of Ljubljana (where she presented her research) who were happy to show her around and give her an eye-opening account of what life is like as a Faculty of Arts student in another country. Conference organizers were welcoming and interested in facilitating discussion so that conference attendees could engage in constructive thinking with others regarding the construction of, and relationship to, ‘the other’.

This travel experience allowed Louisa to develop confidence in her academic abilities as a researcher, writer, and presenter. It also helped her learn how to engage with questions about her research, and contributed to her knowledge of other Faculty of Arts disciplines such as Philosophy English, and History. Her desire to pursue graduate studies in sociology is even more passionate following her conference presentation and she believes that it was an invaluable part of her journey towards a desired goal of becoming an established sociological researcher and writer.

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Are you interested in doing something like Louisa has done? Do you have another student lead project that you'd like develop? Applying for the Faculty of Arts Student Projects Grant is a great way to accomplish this. Applications for the Winter 2013 Student Projects Grant are currently being accepted, and the deadline for submission is Tuesday, February 5th at 4 PM. You can visit http://www.ryerson.ca/arts/projects/ for more information. Need some help putting together your application? There is an information session tomorrow, Wednesday, January 23rd at 1 PM to help you get started. RSVP at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dGRCRTRqY3NyeS0xaXdNVzIzejVkY0E6MQ, and come with a copy of the proposal application!

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