Preface to the Proceedings of the Department of Anthropology’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Summer Research Methods Program in Anthropology at the University of North Texas

Introduction

Summer 2007 marks the eighth year that the Summer Research Program in the Social Sciences has been offered by the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Texas. The program provides five weeks of intensive instruction in theory, methodology, data collection and interpretation, research skills, critical thinking, and writing followed by five weeks of focused individual research. The participating students have worked with a faculty mentor to produce a research report in a format applicable to their project. Program participants have also prepared a literature review, designed research, and prepared a proposal for submittal to the university’s Institutional Review Board.

The Summer Research Program makes a unique and incredibly important contribution to the promotion of social sciences due in part to its focus on under-represented students. At the same time, the broad spectrum of available research topics, including specialized cross-disciplinary sub-fields such as medical, urban, and business anthropology, helps ensure that the program promotes knowledge and understanding not only of social science, but also of a wide range of topics. In addition, such flexibility guarantees that there will never be a shortage of opportunities for students to pursue their creative and original ideas.

The Summer Research Program gives students and teachers the opportunity to conduct research that has the potential for new discoveries and observations beneficial to society. Student’s use of mentors also improves intradepartmental communication and cooperation. Students presented their projects to the university community in a poster session at the end of their summer program, assuring that scientific data will be shared and enhanced, while encouraging others to pursue social science. The publication of student papers in The Eagle Feather 2007 provided yet another opportunity for students to learn about the complete research process and gave them experience vital to their continued success in higher education.

The 2007 Summer Participants

The participants in the 2007 Summer Program include seven students from colleges and universities around the United States. The participants include: Jannell Robles from San Jacinto College, Harris County, Texas; Joy N. Garcia from Weber State University, Ogden, Utah; Stephanie Lewis from Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee; Jaclyn Kuizon from SUNY Purchase College, Purchase, New York; Ange Atkinson from our own UNT; Renée Blackburn from Oakland University, Detroit, Michigan; and Rian E. Davis, also from UNT.

The research covered a range of topics in anthropology. Three of the projects addressed women’s issues. Renée Blackburn examined the history of women working for social reform in Dallas, Texas, concluding that the field of social work grew out of women’s work in early “settlement houses.” Stephanie Lewis interviewed contemporary university professors about their experiences combining careers with motherhood and found that having a spouse that was supportive and a good faculty mentor were key to success in these dual roles. Jannell Robles surveyed the research literature to assess the survival strategies used by Mexican women who migrate to the United States to work, with major strategies including survival, financial self-sufficiency, formation of family and community networks, and socialization into manners and morals. Jaclyn Kuizon interviewed two Native American artists about the effects of their cultural identity as Native people on their work as artists. Two of the participants conducted research in the area of medical anthropology. Joy Garcia surveyed students at UNT about the understanding of the concepts of “flu” and “stomach flu,” discovering that the term “stomach flu,” which does not refer to a real disease, was used euphemistically to refer to a range of gastrointestinal symptoms that students thought it impolite to discuss in public. Rian Davis used focus groups to study the factors that facilitated or inhibited adherence to the guidelines for treatment of Type II diabetes among a self-help group for diabetics, finding that lack of time and money to follow the treatment recommendations were two of the biggest inhibitors. Finally, Ange Atkinson surveyed students at UNT to learn how they defined eenvironmental, economic, and cultural sustainability, discovering that their definitions were often inadequate or incomplete.

Notes

  1. Program support provided by Grant No. NSF05-592 from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Texas