Collaboration and engagement abound at Summer Social Sciences Lab

Attendees watch Wendy Cadge speak at Summer Lab eventPhoto/Mike Lovett

Professor Wendy Cadge presents during a Summer Social Sciences Lab session.

Throughout the summer, Brandeis students and faculty working on social sciences research have been coming together to learn about each other's work and make connections.

The Summer Social Sciences Lab sessions have each featured a faculty presenter and an audience of undergraduate students, faculty and anyone else who wants to join.

"We've been able to bring together an excellent group," said Wendy Cadge, professor of sociology and senior associate dean for strategic initiatives in the School of Arts and Sciences. "The engagement and collaboration is a benefit to everyone."

The eight lunchtime sessions - held weekly in June and July - included presentations from faculty members George Hall, Sara Shostak, Hannah Snyder, Angela Gutchess, Jytte Klausen, Lucy Goodhart, Cadge, and students, and featured plenty of time for questions and conversations amongst those in attendance.

"It all molds together," said Andrea Bolduc '21. "One of the things I like about social science is that you have to be willing to understand and take from other disciplines. It's important that we collaborate. Maybe what someone else is studying could help with your own research."

For many of the students in attendance, sticking around campus over the summer has allowed them to continue the research they have been collaborating on with faculty throughout the academic year. Along with external funding sources for undergraduate research, Brandeis offers undergraduate research grants to pay for their work.

Throughout the most recent academic year and into the summer, Bolduc started working with politics lecturer Lucy Goodhart on research focused on political polarization and television advertising in the United States. She reviews data sets from 1973 to 2003 county-by-county and examines advertising costs within media markets. Bolduc is majoring in politics, but she’s learning key skills in performing data-driven research, such as how to use technical mapping tools and coding.

The labs give students a chance to get together and to gain some perspective, Bolduc said.

"We are all in a pretty similar boat, but without this, we probably wouldn't see each other very often," Bolduc said. "The camaraderie is great."

This was the second year of the summer lab sessions, and Cadge says there are plans to continue the program in the future and possibly expand it to include collaboration with research in the hard sciences.

“We are currently in the process of hiring a director of undergraduate - faculty research, who will help us expand these efforts to the humanities and creative arts as well,” Cadge said.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, Research, Student Life

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