Faculty/Student Research

Santiago de Compostela: Pilgrimage Research

Professor Jenkins, Chair of the Sociology Department, together with Professor George Greenia of Modern Languages and Literatures, took students on a research study abroad program to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain (http://www.wm.edu/sites/pilgrimage/index.php). Students walked the Pilgrimage trail and conducted original research on a number of topics. Sociology student Sarah Gaspari (second from left in photo), wrote a paper titled, “Navigating the Private and Shared Pilgrimage,” based on interviews with Pilgrims and participant observation methods. Dorothy Edwards (first on the right) wrote a paper titled, “Doing Motherhood on the Camino,” using ethnographic methods as well. Sarah and Dorothy, along with their fellow students, presented their research in Spain to researchers from Santiago de Compostela and will present polished versions of their papers at the fall Symposium on Pilgrimage studies hosted by the William & Mary Pilgrimage Institute an Oct. 12-14, 2012.

Prof. Sohoni and Lauren McAuliffe working at the Sociology Student Research Center.

Dr. Sohoni and Ms. McAuliffe (2012) are engaged in research analyzing the use of demographic data by immigrant restrictionist groups on the Web. Their analyses suggest that while the numbers presented by these groups to construct immigration as a “demographic threat” appear objective, that these numbers are often biased and dependent on conceptions of American identity as white and Anglo-Saxon. They also find that the ability of these groups to link to and cite one another on the Web represents an important strategy in reinforcing and bolstering the legitimacy of their claims.

Borderlands: Student Research on Immigration Issues

Over spring break 2009, Professors Bickham Mendez (Sociology) and Tandeciarz (Hispanic Studies) led a research team of eight students to the Tucson/Nogales region of the U.S.-Mexico border. The pilot project combined interdisciplinary field research, course work, and civic engagement to focus on "border issues": the political, social, and cultural effects of immigration from Mexico/Central America to the United States. [Read more]

Professor David Aday is Academic Director of two international projects in engaged scholarship and teaching: 

Student Organization for Medical Outreach and Sustainability (SOMOS) and Medical Aid Nicaragua: Outreach Scholarship.  SOMOS was begun in 2005 and focuses on a community called Paraiso in the Dominican Republic.  MANOS began in 2006 and works in a micro-region called Cuje in Nicaragua.  Both projects pursue research to develop and implement a model of participatory development that focuses on improved health and health care.  The projects began with careful ethnographic descriptions of the communities and proceeded to systematic empirical descriptions of health problems, concerns, and issues, using GPS coordinate data and GIS techniques.  Following that, team members in both projects conducted social networks analyses to map the relational structures of the communities.  The current work focuses on describing community organization with the goal of facilitating the development of effective infrastructure.  Throughout the project work, SOMOS and MANOS has hosted, staffed, and facilitated annual medical clinics (at least twice each year currently) and provided for free medical consultations and free medicine for community residents.

Professor David Aday is the faculty Advisor for the Medical Aid Nicaragua: Outreach Scholarship (MANOS):

MANOS is a student-run organization that travels to Cuje, Nicaragua every Spring Break, and also sends a few members on side trips during the Winter and Summer. We generally have between 13-17 student members and one faculty advisor, Professor David Aday. Our goal is to create sustainable health care reforms in a sub-community of Cuje called Chaguite, and we believe that the only way to create that kind of change is through an informed partnership between us and the community. In order to create that informed partnership, we’ve conducted ethnographic research in Chaguite, and have worked with the community to develop projects to improve community-indicated health concerns. For immediate relief, we have also held a free medical clinic for all of Cuje with American and Nicaraguan physicians for the past 5 years. read more.