Honors Activities – End of Year Social

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To wrap up the year and give Honors students a break as they studied during finals, the Honors Council organized a final social in McKay Hall’s common room on April 29th. They ordered food from Fresh Kitchen, had games for people to play, and a DJ. Over 200 students showed up.

UT Student at Oxford: final thoughts

My time here at Oxford has been better than I could have imagined. I just finished my last tutorial, but it seems like I started only yesterday! It has been personally rewarding to be immersed in British culture and history while learning about interesting and thought-provoking subjects via unique teaching methods. Overall, my time here has been an amazing and gratifying experience.

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All Soul’s College, viewed from the University Church of St Mary the Virgin

Fortunately, the University of Oxford encourages visiting students to join clubs and take part in activities. I tried as many activities and clubs as I could find time for: from the walking club, to the boxing club, and even badminton. I especially enjoyed the Oxford University Walking Club because I was able to meet many diverse people and travel to Snowdonia, Wales for a weekend of hiking in the mountains. I was very impressed by the positive experiences of attending club activities because the members were very welcoming and encouraging.

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A lake in Snowdonia with the view of snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales
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Snowdon and the marshy fields of Snowdonia. (If you look closely, you can see me and another hiker on the bottom left!)

I was also able to experience more of the U.K. with the Oxford Study Abroad Programme (OSAP) and, when time permitted, I ventured about independently. I visited London, Hampton Court Palace, Warwick Castle, Winchester, and achieved a life-long personal goal of visiting Jane Austen’s house and museum. England has such a unique history and culture that really fascinated me, and the U.K.’s relatively small size fortunately makes it easy and affordable to take day trips from Oxford to other cities by bus, train, or plane.

 

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Hampton Court Palace, one of the homes of King Henry VIII. He installed many chimneys, with some nonfunctional, to show off his wealth and style
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The medieval Warwick Castle, built by William the Conqueror in 1068 
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The house in which Jane Austen and her family resided during her later years. Here, she wrote Mansfield ParkEmmaand Persuasion

My academic experience in the U.K. has been very rewarding. I have learned so much even only being here for a few months. Besides the knowledge I have gained from each tutorial, I believe I have also enhanced my academic abilities. Researching and writing one or two papers each week has really benefitted my academic abilities, as I have become a more focused and faster reader and an improved writer. I also believe I have gained more independence, confidence, and have better time management.

 

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The University Church of St Mary the Virgin during a “snow storm” that shut the city down for a few days

The Oxford study abroad experience has ultimately changed me for the better. As I head towards graduation in a few weeks, I believe that I am prepared to achieve my academic goals and future opportunities.

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Broad Street, Oxford

 

Conferences – Layaal Hage

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From April 5th through the 8th, I attended the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Taking place for the 76th year, the MPSA Conference is an opportunity for political science scholars to present their research in a variety of sessions, ranging from lectures and lightning talks to roundtable discussions and panel presentations.

As a participant in the Undergraduate Poster Session on The Politics of Natural Resources and the Environment, I presented my research titled, “The Impact of Ghana’s 2011 Oil Production on the Western Region’s Oil-Bearing Communities,” which I had conducted for Dr. Kevin Fridy’s course on the Political Economy of Africa in the spring 2017 semester. During the hour-and-a-half-long poster session, I got the chance to give ninety-second presentations of my twenty-page paper, answer questions about my research, receive feedback on what to add, remove, or modify in future replications of the research, and embark on discussions that integrated both my research and those of the attendees. The attendees I interacted with and who toured the poster session were all at different stages of their political science academic or professional experience; while some were graduate school students and PhD candidates, others were session discussants and on-the-field professionals. Not only did my participation as a poster presenter put me on the spot and force me to think on my feet countless times, but, even more interestingly, it shed light on the power a subject of interest can have in tying together individuals from completely unrelated backgrounds. None of us knew each other’s names, nationalities, or experiences, yet we talked about natural resources, developing nations, African governments and citizens, and so on, endlessly!

In addition to being a conference participant, I got the opportunity to attend others’ presentations, two of which were paper sessions pertaining to Economic Development, particularly development outcomes, inequality, and ethnicity. Conducted differently than poster sessions, these paper sessions entailed three to four presenters discussing their research papers, discussants raising questions about and providing feedback on these presentations, and both presenters and discussants addressing questions from the audience. Right in front of me was a forum for productive discussions, debates, and exchanges of ideas that was more confident, mature, and advanced than any classroom lecture or group meeting I had ever attended or participated in. While presenting my research at this conference is a testament to the knowledge and experience I acquired during my four-year experience at UT, participating in discussions on various research topics and attending others’ presentations gave me a slight glimpse of all that I have yet to learn as a political science student and scholar!

Honors Activities – Leadership Challenge Course in HON 102

Dr. Jen Wortham had her HON 102 students participate in the Leadership Challenge Course. The Leadership Challenge Course provides students with opportunities to work together to try to overcome challenging obstacles. Dr. Wortham includes some snapshots of what the students learned using the GroupMe app. Some of the comments from students:

I learned that groups work better when we can communicate well. – Laura Montgomery

 

I learned to always listen to others’ ideas and try them even if you don’t think it will work. – Maddy Lucas

 

I learned that you need to look at things from multiple perspectives to solve problems. – Lauren Koelln

 

It’s easier to balance everything by working together. – Emily Brooks

 

It’s important not to give up when a plan isn’t working but to be creative in finding a better solution. – Caroline Vocatura

 

Sometimes you have to step back and make a game plan before attempting to solve a problem. – Allyson Hicks

 

It’s not always necessary to have a designated leader in a group. – Madeleine Matolak

Coffee Conversations – Bridgette Froeschke

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On April 4th, Dr. Bridgette Froeschke, Assistant Professor of Biology, led a Coffee Conversation on the questions “Who does water belong to? Should water be privatized?” The conversation covered a lot of topics relating to water, from the quality of bottled water versus tap water to who should own water rights and how water consumption and regulation (or lack thereof) affect environmental quality.