Students Present at Sociology Conference – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Students Present at Sociology Conference

Sociology_Conference_5For Alec Rhodes ’18, one of three HWS students who presented at the recent conference of the New York State Sociological Association, the experience offered long-term benefits.

“Learning how to craft a successful presentation and speak in front of a peer/professional audience will go a long way as I continue to give academic talks,” says the sociology and economics double major, who plans to enter a doctorate program in sociology after graduation.

Rhodes, Sasha Carey ’18 and Dylan Morris ’19 traveled to St. John Fisher College’s Pittsford, N.Y. campus for the two-day conference, along with their faculty mentor, Associate Professor of Sociology Renee Monson. Monson and Associate Professor of Sociology Kendra Freeman are the creators of “Sociology 401,” a half-credit course that equips students with the tools needed to revise independent research and present it professionally.

Both Carey and Morris also benefited from taking “Sociology 211: Research Methods.” The students in that course applied different research methods to study how students’ characteristics are related to their feelings of wanting to transfer to a different college.

“I focused on how students navigate the college social climate based on their individual characteristics,” says Carey of the research that led to her presentation. “We interviewed 10 sophomores with a range of identities, focusing on ‘significant moments’ in their efforts to navigate college life during their first two years. Students described being most vulnerable to transferring during their first year, when the campus climate and/or their peer networks were the main reasons they considered leaving.”


Morris’s work focused on the same topic, but used surveys to gather information. Rhodes, meanwhile, gave a presentation based on a paper he wrote for the upper-level sociology seminar “Social Policy.” “My project was a comparative policy brief on paternity leaves in the U.S., Sweden and France,” he says. “Based on empirical evidence, I argue that making eligibility less stringent, increasing length and improving leave generosity is likely to bolster mothers’ employment and fathers’ care work in the U.S.”

Presenting their work at a professional academic conference is a significant experience for undergraduates. “For some, it’s an opportunity to develop their skills in communicating complex arguments and evidence clearly and coherently. For other students, it’s a way to try out the possibility of pursuing an academic career.  I think all students find it exciting to challenge themselves to a different kind of academic achievement,” Monson says.