I hope my New England friends have been enjoying a summer full of beach days and Del’s lemonade, and my pals back home are beating the heat with some Ted Drewes. My summer so far has been lacking in travel and outdoor activities compared to past years but has nevertheless been exciting … in a less ‘summery,’ more educational way. Reading and writing lots of philosophy may sound like an actual nightmare to some, but that is what most of my summer so far has consisted of, and I am happy as a clam about it.
About a month and a half after settling into my research here at PC, I spent two weeks in July attending an intensive summer philosophy program at Brown University, joined by eight other students from around the country. Specifically, this was a program to promote diversity and inclusivity in philosophy, which has been historically dominated by Western males. Being surrounded by peers whose identities have been traditionally underrepresented in the discipline was extremely rewarding, and hearing about their unique experiences within philosophy opened my eyes to new perspectives.
For the duration of the program, we attended two daily seminars, “Philosophy of Time” and “Global Justice” taught by two different professors. Some highlights from the first, a metaphysics course, was being able to talk physics … without actually talking physics. While I had studied Einstein’s Laws of Special Relativity before, aside from the analytical calculations, I had not approached the topic from a philosophical perspective. In simple terms, this theory states that we have evidence to believe that time is relative! (Specifically, the duration of time between two events depends on the frame of reference from which it is being observed.) Basically, in this seminar we got to ditch all the formulas and numbers while talking about how this theory conflicts with our norms about time being an objectively measurable entity, and how we should make sense of a notion that seems so counter intuitive.
What really got me thinking, though, was the question about which times exist; for most of us, the default is that the present is special (compared to past and future) in some way, and that the past no longer exists. But what about the past makes it “past?” You can see how this question could go in circles. We could say that we know past events are in the past because they already happened. But this would mean that we already assume that time is a dynamic, and such a thing as “now” and “then” exist. And how do we know this for sure? Also, can we locate “in the past” spatially? These kinds of discussions had me confused and intrigued for hours on end, and almost always ended in further questions regarding the ontology of time. I even started to question the ability of linguistics, particularly our use of past and future tenses, to accurately capture our experiences of time. This course was like a combination of philosophy + physics on steroids, and I loved every minute of it.
As for my Global Justice seminar, we covered topics ranging from inequality, distribution issues, individual moral obligations in preventing suffering, and war. All are clearly very relevant to real world application, which made the content even more enriching. But the highlight of this seminar was, hands down, Skyping with Jeff McMahan, the mastermind behind the revisionist version of Just War Theory. He gave us an MTV Cribs-style tour of his office at Oxford, and we had the opportunity to ask questions about his theory, only to be blown away by his well-articulated and brilliant responses to even the most theoretically insane “What ifs?” that we threw at him.
All in all, my two weeks up on College Hill were extremely rewarding, and I learned more about philosophy than I could’ve ever hoped to. Although the program sadly came to an end, I was able to dive into my personal research project with some added inspiration, mostly due to the experiences of cultural relativism that I heard from my peers.
Quick recap: My research, overseen by Dr. Arroyo, is based on a cross-cultural examination of Japan and America. My interest lies in the sphere of early education and childrearing, analyzing how each society’s values and ethos inform how parents and teachers educate and nurture children. One of the most interesting things I have been writing about recently is the fact that Japan’s educational system was democratized to mirror that of the United States’, after WW2 under the occupation of General MacArthur. Ever since these reforms, the basic structure of the elementary school system has been essentially the same in each country. Yet, despite this similarity, the methods and teaching philosophies utilized in each are wildly different. Dr. Merry White, anthropologist at Boston University, says it best: “in borrowing European and American models of schooling, Japan did not borrow Western conceptions of learning and childhood.”
These conceptions refer to a range of things. Like, for example, the purpose that education is believed to serve in each society. You may be wondering, “Isn’t the purpose of education pretty … universal?” That’s what I thought, too. But it turns out, this concept holds distinct cultural meaning in each society. In Japan, learning in school is regarded as a holistic development, encompassing mind, body, and soul. There is equal emphasis on physical activity, moral development, as well as academics within the curriculum. And in the moral sphere, cooperation, empathy and loyalty to the group are emphasized, and so large class sizes are preferred to allow students to practice these skills. All of these philosophies are quite foreign to our elementary schools. So, you can see how diverging beliefs about learning and childhood can greatly change how the elementary school system functions, despite a similar structure.
I’m still working on getting the findings of my research down on paper, so how my project will turn out is one big question mark for now. But I am excited to continue putting bits and pieces of my work together, and discovering more about two major elements of my identity along the way.
Thanks for reading!
Hello All! I hope my New England friends have been enjoying a summer full of beach days and Del’s lemonade, and my pals back home are beating the heat with some Ted Drewes. My summer so far has been lacking in travel and outdoor activities compared to past years but has nevertheless been exciting … […]MORE
We are just beginning week third of our summer research. This summer we have three research assistants working in the lab.
Danielle, a Rhode Island native, is a rising senior psychology major and also earning a business studies certificate. She hopes to become a school psychologist. Last summer, she worked at a daycare as a kindergarten teaching assistant and is excited to work in the lab this summer doing a study with kindergarteners!
Emily is a rising senior psychology major with a history minor. She is from Massachusetts and hopes to one day become a speech and language pathologist. She worked this past semester as an intern at the Groden Center, which is a school for children with autism. She looks forward to this summer in the lab and starting her own research project in the fall.
Caitlin is a rising senior psychology major with a French minor in the Liberal Arts Honors Program. She is from New York and loves working with children – having spent time as a nanny and summer camp counselor. She enjoyed taking “Experimental Developmental Psychology” with Dr. Van Reet this past spring and is delighted to work in the lab for the summer doing research.
This summer we look forward to continuing the Caplan study that we have been working on this year. This study is a joint research project with Dr. Van Reet of the psychology department and Dr. Zhang of the education department. The study focuses on investigating the effectiveness of play and guidance in early science learning. We are looking forward to finding new fun ways to recruit participants for our study and can’t wait to have more kindergarteners come in and participate!
We are so excited for the summer in the Kid Think Lab!
-The Kid Think Team
Hello! We are just beginning week third of our summer research. This summer we have three research assistants working in the lab. Danielle, a Rhode Island native, is a rising senior psychology major and also earning a business studies certificate. She hopes to become a school psychologist. Last summer, she worked at a daycare as […]MORE
Hello – My name is Vincent Ndahayo, and I am a rising junior at Providence College. I am from Manchester, NH, and I have five siblings (three sisters and two brothers). I am the second oldest, and I was born in Tanzania. I am a chemistry major, and I am doing research this summer with Dr. Seann Mulcahy in his organic chemistry lab. This is my first blog ever so this is a new thing for me, and I hope you enjoy reading it. I will be updating you throughout the summer on what conducting summer research is like at PC.
Doing summer research has been one of the goals I have wanted to accomplish while I am in college, and I am very thankful for having the opportunity. I have not taken organic chemistry yet, so my experience for the first three weeks in lab have been completely new. I was nervous and anxious about doing research in the lab because I believed that I was going to do something so bad that I would be kicked out of the lab. Or, I would do something embarrassing that I would not be able to show my face lab ever again. However, I was also excited to do work in the lab because I was eager to learn all the joys of research, especially the potential for creating something new to the science community and the world.
My research is centered around making new molecules from scratch. The picture attached to this blog are two reactions I set up. Dr. Mulcahy has explained to me multiple times how the goal of our research this summer is to use new methods to synthesize molecules that can potentially be used as pharmaceuticals. I would like to pursue a career in pharmacy, and I believe doing research this summer will be a step in the right direction.
I am working with five other students this summer. The other members of the research team are: Bianca, the only senior on the team this summer; Gersham, the only returning member from Dr. Mulcahy’s lab group; Matthew, a cool guy; and my classmates from this past year, Yazan and Kyle. I enjoy coming into lab everyday doing work with this group. We all get along well, and we are always playing music in lab so it’s a fun work atmosphere. It’s like a competition every day to see who will play music first. We all have different taste in music so whenever someone plays music, someone is always complaining about the music. For example, Matt is always joking around about Bianca’s music being too aggressive because she plays a lot of hip hop. Then when Matt or Kyle play their country music, Bianca and Yazan complain.
Dr. Mulcahy has been very patient with all of us, especially Kyle, Yazan, and me because he has taught us how to do everything we need to know due to our lack of experience in an organic chemistry lab. He is always around the lab helping everyone out with their projects.
My first three weeks of research have been worthwhile, and I have got to spend them with some great people. Stay tuned for my next blog in where I will explain in more detail about the new experiences and reactions I have learned about in lab. Until next time, have a great day and see you soon!
Vincent Ndahayo ’19
Hello – My name is Vincent Ndahayo, and I am a rising junior at Providence College. I am from Manchester, NH, and I have five siblings (three sisters and two brothers). I am the second oldest, and I was born in Tanzania. I am a chemistry major, and I am doing research this summer with […]MORE
I think that it’s time to update you on the progress that has been made this summer! Dr. Hauerwas and I have been busy looking into the 1,500 sentences that we coded. The important thing to look into is what patterns you notice. Little things such as tone of voice, point of view, and word choice are very important in this step! We separately come up with what we think is meaningful and then have meetings where we will discuss what stood out to us and why. After we talk, we create a paragraph that summarizes what we have found, which will help us be able to write the paper that summarizes the research that has been carried out!
The Italian students reaction to the study abroad program Providence College offers has been positive. The Italian elementary-aged students stated, “I’ve learned that there are many people all over the world; we can communicate even if we’re from different countries,” and “The world is made of different cultures, which must be respected” — among many other meaningful sentences. Through these two responses you can see that the Italian students gained global competence and awareness. It is important to respect those who live outside your home country’s borders, and the Italian students are showing that they understand that more due to having an American pre-service teacher in their classroom.
Overall, this experience had been very educational, as I have learned what it means to carry out qualitative analysis. As I look into graduate programs for next year, I am keeping in mind how beneficial this experience has been and am looking at places where I can apply the knowledge I gained from it. This opportunity has helped me learn various skills that I will use in the future — whether it be teaching in a classroom or looking into new teaching programs and strategies!
Where is my favorite research spot you may ask? Well, the Slavin Overlook lounge never does me wrong. It has a great atmosphere, perfect lighting, and Dunkin just happens to be nearby!
Hope everyone’s summer is going well!
Hi everyone! I think that it’s time to update you on the progress that has been made this summer! Dr. Hauerwas and I have been busy looking into the 1,500 sentences that we coded. The important thing to look into is what patterns you notice. Little things such as tone of voice, point of view, […]MORE
My name is Cecelia Lahiff, and I am a humanities/art history major with a classics minor. I am from Goshen in Orange County New York.
This summer, under the guidance of my mentor Dr. Fred Drogula, I will be writing a research paper entitled “Wet Stars: Ancient Conceptions of Stars in the Golden Age Latin Poetry.” This project will include an in-depth look into the writings of Vergil (Virgil) and how he understood astronomy in his time.
Since this is not an already well-researched topic, I am excited to add some insight into the field of classics! Stay tuned for more updates as I try to be as eloquent as possible, while keeping my head in the stars!
Vale! (or farewell in Latin)
Hi! My name is Cecelia Lahiff, and I am a humanities/art history major with a classics minor. I am from Goshen in Orange County New York. This summer, under the guidance of my mentor Dr. Fred Drogula, I will be writing a research paper entitled “Wet Stars: Ancient Conceptions of Stars in the Golden Age […]MORE