Undergraduate students present research in annual Sociology Symposium

Aaron Corpora

Kent State hosted the second annual Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Sociology Symposium, “Students Today, Scholars Tomorrow: The Promise of Sociology” on March 14. 

The symposium welcomed undergraduates from across the region who have shown an interest in sociology, criminology, gender studies, LGBTQ studies, Pan-African studies and other disciplines in field of social sciences, according to its website.

The event was in the Student Center and welcomed in students from different colleges showcase their individual research outside of the classroom. Manacy Pai, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, organized this year’s event.

“Our hope is that undergraduate students find a place and an opportunity where they can showcase what they’ve learned in class and in their research projects,” Pai said.

Often times it is difficult for undergraduate students to find a place to showcase their work with most opportunities being given to graduate students or distinguished professors, Pai said.

“We always know that there are opportunities for faculty and graduate students to present their research, but there are not as many opportunities for undergrads,” Pai said.

The symposium staff posed three main goals for this year’s conference: to promote professionalism within the discipline, to encourage close collaborations between faculty and students and to provide networking opportunities for student with other undergraduates, graduate students and faculty in the region, according to its website.

Pai said one student, William Needleman, a sociology major from Otterbein University, came to showcase his study on the privatization and overcrowding of prisons in the United States.

“I’ve always been interested in inequality,”  Needleman said. “I think that there are so many components to inequality, and I think that prison is a huge one. To tackle the issue of inequality as a whole, you need to look at a lot of things, but prison is one that’s so big that it’s something you need to look at specifically.”

Professors such as Richard Adams, an associate professor in the sociology department, do their best to help in any way possible due to the enjoyment that comes from watching the students at work.

“I’m always impressed with the quality of student presentations that undergraduates can give at these sorts of conferences,” Adams said. “I tell students that when they go off to graduate school, this is the kind of stuff that people look at. In terms of jobs and those sorts of things, being able to present is one of the things that lots of jobs now require.”

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected]