Hobart and William Smith Colleges
The Daily Update
Regional Director for the United Way Kari Buch speaks to students in "Sr Seminar: Research Practicum" with Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Jack Harris.

Proposing Sociology Research Projects

Jack Harris SociologySenior sociology majors are conducting research and developing recommendations for their academic capstone that will increase the social impact of several community organizations, non-profits and school programs.

“Senior Seminar: Research Practicum,” taught by Professor of Sociology Jack Harris, is designed to give sociology students the opportunity to apply the skills they have gained in their four years at HWS. Harris says the class is a true capstone experience because it allows students to engage deeply in their academic disciplines through partnership with members of the community. He also believes their projects will make a significant impact on the organizations.

On Jan. 30, Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, (CCESL) invited Ontario County community leaders to attend Harris’ seminar and outline some of the projects that students could work on. They included:

Carol Urbaitis, vice president of enrollment at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and Leigh Principio Pitifer ’84, P’13, P’18, FLCC Campus Center Specialist, presented their project, “FLCC/ HWS – Maximizing the Pulteney Street Connection.” The project asks where FLCC and HWS can identify and develop opportunities to have a more collaborative partnership.

Kari Buch, regional director of United Way of Greater Rochester, presented her project, “Exploring further engagement with HWS.” Burch’s proposal asks students to analyze methods that could be used to engage the college student population as potential donors.

Gregory Baker ‘00, principal of Geneva High School, presented “Alternative Education in Geneva.” He proposed students analyze and recommend early education intervention programs that could increase the number of students who graduate from high school.

Bill Lamb, director of services at Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes and Rabbi Anne Landowne, presented “Project Promise – Ontario County Embraces Reality of, and Collaborative Ways to Address, Homelessness.” The project asks students to identify untapped resources in the community that can be leveraged to provide housing for homeless families.

Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology Jim Spates presented his work with the Dove Block Restoration Group and the effort to restore the building in downtown Geneva, as well as make a third-floor memorial to the impressionist painter Arthur Dove. His proposal asks students to research the potential impact of an “arts and culture trail” marketing strategy.

Chris Lavin ’81, executive director of the Geneva Community Center and Boys & Girls Club, proposed students identify ways to increase funding for the organization without increasing the cost of access for families.

Jeremy Wattles, associate director of CCESL, proposed students create an impact assessment report for America Counts to determine what affect one-on-one tutoring in math has on students’ performance in school.

The 23 students in the class will form groups of 3 or 4, select one of the projects to study and will partner with the area leaders to explore possible solutions. Along with the local community-impact of these projects, Flowers says during the course of the semester the students will conduct research that has the potential to contribute to sociology journals and national organizations.

Students will be invited to present their research at both the Senior Symposium on April, 14 and the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum on May, 2 where they can share their findings and celebrate the positive potential of academically supported collaborations with the community.

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