Kansas City, Missouri
Art History Major
by Anna Novikova ‘13
As a sophomore, Josh Gunter was selected for the Ronald McNair Program,
which led him to research the Logan Square development in Chicago during the
summer of 2011. His experience helped shape his future career plans.
Describe your research.
Well, I studied one Chicago neighborhood's efforts to provide affordable housing in the face of gentrification. I looked at a lot of economic, historic, and geographic information about why certain neighborhoods have developed more than others. The neighborhood I chose, Logan Square (about 45 minutes northwest of the Loop), put that in context of all the larger forces of development.
What led you to your research?
I like architectural history, but I started to become more in tune with city planning and development and so in Chicago, Daniel Burnham created a landmark plan for Chicago in 1909 which sort of started the city planning profession. The notion that you can conscientiously plan a city took hold in the public mindset. I studied that a lot.
In addition, I wanted to do something more relevant to today -- more topical to current issues. I came upon reading about Logan Square and I have a lot of friends there, so I wanted to tie that back to all of the forces of development from the past century -- not only the Burnham plan, but everything else that has affected it, as well.
The central part of Chicago has always received lots of money and lots of emphasis; it's the economic core of the region. But then, through road and rail travel, people have spread out. Most of the wealthy people moved north. And now, as prices have increased in the north, people are starting to move west -- moving into Logan Square from Lakeview and Lincoln Square. There are a lot of Hispanic and Polish families, but now a lot of 'yuppie' white, upper middle class families have 'jumped the expressway' that separates Logan Square from the other neighborhoods.
How did you prepare for your research?
All the research took place during the summer. My sophomore year I was chosen and had a weekly seminar with McNair fellows from every department and the McNair mentors. They walk you through choosing a topic and provide basic resources. Individually, we found sources for the topics we wanted to do.
McNair paid for our housing over the summer in Galesburg, and pays a stipend for buying books, or travel for research. I traveled to Chicago three or four times to do field work. At the end of the summer, we presented at an undergraduate research conference in Berkeley, California.
What have you learned?
What I got most out of it was really being able to apply the general knowledge I learned here at Knox during the course of the year to a really specific project, and to take the things I learned here and apply them in a socially-engaged way.
I'll have a senior research paper for Art History. I don't know if I'm getting to graduate school -- maybe professional school in architecture or urban planning -- I don't know, but I'm definitely going in this direction. My research had a lot of relevance to my future career plans.
Why'd you choose Knox?
I chose Knox because I like the open atmosphere -- open as in the people I talked to really said you can do whatever you want, if you go out and pursue it. You can't sit around and wait for opportunities; you have to make them yourself. It's more challenging that way.
What does "liberal arts" mean to you?
It means being able to bring all kinds of different knowledge to solve a problem. Everything is related -- no man is an island, complete unto himself. You have to be literate in different ways of knowing, different methods of inquiry to solve problems and make changes in the world.
It's an example of one of many ways at Knox that you can find ways to do what you love.
Learn more about the Ronald McNair Program and other student research and creative opportunities