At symposium, some undergraduates take on international topics

The annual Undergraduate Symposium showcases the “research, creative endeavor and service-learning” of hundreds of students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, encompassing all areas of study, including the humanities, fine arts, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences

Presentations and posters featured at the 2014 symposium, held April 10 at Union South, covered a variety of subjects, from “Political Humor and Networks on Twitter” and “Improvements in the Delivery of Radionuclide Therapy” to “Grassland Bird Nesting Chronology in Wisconsin” and “Religion and Lawn Care Practices.”

Several participants tackled topics with an international focus. For example:

  • Drawing upon a custom in her native China, Ling Lei studied the cost of transferring a hukou, or a record of one’s household registration, from rural to urban areas.  Lei began exploring her hypothesis – that transitioning to an urban area with better social welfare would come with a higher cost – by carrying out case studies in three Chinese cities. She is returning to China in May to continue her research.
  • Senior Andrew Park examined the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur people, an ethnic minority with a history of being persecuted. Hypothesizing that this treatment might provoke terrorism by the Uyghur, Park reviewed numerous scholarly accounts about the Uyghur and their history with the Chinese government. He also studied recent acts of violence in Tiananmen Square and Kunming Station.
  • Senior Hanna Schieve compared the use of soft and hard power in the Roman Empire with the present-day United States. Using scholarly articles about Rome’s culture of inclusion and exceptionalism, Schieve found links to modern-day ideals in the United States. She says her research stresses the importance of analyzing the past for contemporary significance.
  • In his study of youth activism in post-dictatorship Argentina and Spain, senior Cole Bryant interviewed Argentines and Spaniards of various ages about past and present political and societal issues in their respective countries. Bryant concluded that young and old citizens in both countries maintain a standard of confronting current political and societal issues without ignoring past events and the outcomes of these incidents.
  • Freshman Ben Schneider has started a study of India’s caste system, comparing it to racial inequality in the United States. Schneider is specifically examining the political thought of Indian activist/scholar Jyotiba Phule and his possible influence on the Dalit Panthers anti-caste movement in India. He says scholarly articles show that the Dalit Panthers’ desire for universal education and gender equality are in accordance with Phule’s philosophies – citing this as an example of how an individual can shape political and social movements.

Other international topics examined by undergraduates included:

  • Managing the Perception of Foreign Influence on Women’s Rights in Morocco
  • Post-Conflict Influences on Gender-Based Violence Legislation in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Health by Motorbike
  • Negotiating Costa Rican Culture From an American Perspective Towards Global Proficiency
  • Latin American Mental Health Providers
  • Approaches to Vitamin A Deficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa

A complete list of presentations and posters at this year’s Undergraduate Symposium is available online.

— by Haley Henschel