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Collaborative Research Projects 2023

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The Vovis Center, in partnership with the Office of the Dean of the College, sponsors a program to support students seeking active learning opportunities outside the classroom.

What are Collaborative Research Projects?

Collaborative research projects are multi-week group projects led by a faculty member. These projects are in-person experiences on-campus at Knox. Most projects are suitable for students with no experience with research or exposure to the research topics; others have a few minimal requirements. All selected students receive a grant from Knox to support their participation in these projects.

The 2021 and 2022 collaborative research experiences were featured in the Knox Magazine and in the Knox news! In summer 2023, 35 students participated in the following projects:

  • Instructor: Scott Harris, Lecturer, Religious Studies

    What lies behind the power of a video game to hold an audience in its narrative world? In this project, students will explore how video games communicate meaning by analyzing narrative video games through the lenses of myth and ritual. Students will address the fundamental research question, “is the interactivity between player and narrative in a video game analogous to the interactivity of a religious ritual?” In a video game, the player enacts the narrative even as the narrative steers that action towards a predetermined conclusion. This dynamic, in which the player feels an illusory sense of agency, will be our starting point. 

  • Instructors: Nathalie Haurberg, Associate Professor of Physics and Mark Shroyer, Associate Professor of Physics

    From Galileo’s earliest observations that helped dislodge the notion that Earth was the center of the Universe, to Henrietta Leavitt’s discovery of Cepheid variable stars which helped give us a handle on the size of our galaxy and expanse of the Universe, to Edwin Hubble’s observations that the Universe is ever expanding, it would be hard to argue that any single scientific instrument has transformed the way that humanity views itself in relation to the cosmos more than the telescope.  Students will learn relevant astronomy and physics to carry out observational astronomy projects utilizing the Knox Observatory.

  • Instructor: Hilary Lehmann, Assistant Professor of Classics

    Knox College prides itself on being founded by radical abolitionists. Yet the Founders’ abolitionism sits uncomfortably within their historical and geographical context. The westward expansion of settler colonists like George Washington Gale was motivated by Manifest Destiny, the cultural belief that Europeans were destined to occupy North America, displacing and often eliminating its Indigenous inhabitants. In this project, students will use archival materials to examine how the Founders’ abolitionism clashed with their anti-Indigenous and white supremacist beliefs, and will create a digital museum to display the results of their research. This project will appeal to students interested in local history, Black and Indigenous histories, archival research, and using digital platforms to share information.

  • Instructor: Jonah Rubin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology-Sociology

    In this collaborative digital ethnography, we will try to develop a social justice-oriented approach to media literacy education. Efforts to combat “fake news” are usually presented as apolitical, objective, and neutral efforts to teach students to recognize reality. Drawing on decolonial and abolitionist methods, this project seeks to uncover the subtle yet powerful political forces that lie beneath such claims of news objectivity. We will conduct research on current approaches to combating mis- and disinformation, both to understand their political assumptions and to develop better alternatives that center decolonial, abolitionist, and social justice methods of news literacy. Research opportunities are available in either English or Spanish.

New this year! The Vovis Center is proud to introduce December Collaborative Projects – an opportunity for students to engage in full-time research for two weeks during the winter term. Eligible students can learn more and apply here. For most projects, the deadline to apply is September 1, 2023.

Knox College

Printed on Friday, December 8, 2023