Arts student gets taste of post-graduate academia in undergraduate research program
Sociology student investigates feminist bloggers as part of Research Opportunities Program
July 09, 2012
Louisa Hawkins is working towards her future this summer.
The fourth-year sociology student, under the supervision of professor Paul Moore, is investigating the history of female bloggers. Hawkins was accepted into the Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) Scholars Program which allows undergraduates to participate in faculty-mentored summer research. Hawkins’ project, “Bylines by her: Feminist Bloggers and Self-Publishing in the Context of Women’s Journalism History,” focuses on understanding how women’s self-managed content and circulation of the written self translates into the wider empowerment of women over time.
“I’m interested in the women bloggers of today,” Hawkins said. “I’m starting with the 1890s stunt girl journalist such as Nellie Bly, who would be today’s undercover journalist.”
Hawkins is creating a blog database that will help craft a methodology and compare her quantitative and qualitative statistics when she completes her research. She plans on submitting an article to Sojourners, University of British Columbia’s undergraduate sociology journal, and hopes to present her research with Moore at next year’s Canadian Communication Association meetings.
Hawkins says the research process can be isolating at times but her weekly meetings with Moore give her inspiration.
“When you’re alone with your project, you can start to doubt it,” she said. “He always gives me a new lease on the life of my project. [The relationship] is casual and collaborative. It’s us having an awesome conversation and then going off and building from that.”
In addition, Hawkins is learning that a life in academia is more than lectures and research. She points to an activist role that’s present where professors have an opportunity to advocate for others, in this case, women. Teaching, learning, reaching out to the community and publishing articles all play a part in professors moving beyond the classroom.
As a result of Hawkins’ URO participation, she was able to attend Moore’s post-graduate class to begin her contrast analysis. Although the project is only for three months, she plans to extend it in the fall as a possible thesis option.
Hawkins has a background in early childhood education, which she says, helped inform a lot of her knowledge in pursuing sociology.
“I feel lucky to have found sociology at this point in my life. It gives me confidence to know it feels right what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s pushing me towards grad school and confirming what I’m most happy doing which is research and writing.”