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Taking Honors Research on the Road

Megan Prangley, left, and Anna Kwiatkowski at the International Studies Association Conference.

Megan Prangley (international studies, Spanish, and Chinese ‘19) and Anna Kwiatkowski (political science ‘19) recently travelled to Richmond, Virginia to present research based on their honors theses at the International Studies Association Conference. Both students received valuable feedback from scholars in their field and found out firsthand what it is like to join the conversation in their academic field.

Prangley’s presentation analyzes the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGO) to lower the rate of sex trafficking. She said, “My paper, ‘Coordination Sensation: When NGOs Strike Down Sex Trafficking,’ argues that NGOs are effective in decreasing sex trafficking in the long-term if they coordinate the totality of their efforts. My research sample is sex trafficking NGOs in Savannah, Georgia.”

She was inspired to delve into the subject of sex trafficking after completing an international studies course on the Statesboro campus. “After taking Dr. Courtney Burn’s International Human Rights course, I asked her to be my mentor for the Honors Thesis. This course briefly highlighted and sparked my interest towards sex trafficking being an international injustice to human rights everywhere,” she said.

Prangley’s directly works with organizations based in Savannah, helping her gain qualitative and quantitative data for her thesis. “I am in the process of interviewing sex trafficking NGOs in Savannah. Also, I will obtain data on the number of sex trafficking victims in Savannah to determine the company’s effectiveness,” she said.

This experience gave Prangley the opportunity to connect with graduate students and professors from other schools who were interested in her research. The International Studies Association conference exposed her to other thought-provoking research which added to her experience as a first-time presenter. “This was a very growing experience for me, because this was my first conference that I attended and presented at. I worked diligently to prepare my presentation. I enhanced my writing skills and gained much constructive feedback on my project. The feedback I received has improved my research upon my return,” she said. “Additionally, I was exposed to many topics that piqued my interest while at this conference. I attended a women’s breakfast caucus, listened to a keynote speaker at lunch, and engaged in an assortment of panels that expanded my mind to all that the field of international studies encompasses.”

Kwiatkowski also had the opportunity to present her research on restrictive immigration policies. “My Honors Thesis, ‘Immigration Policy Reform: International Students and Higher Education,’ looks at how the high influx of immigrants in states in the Global North such as the United Kingdom have led to restrictive immigration policies and its effects on international students,” she said.

This conference was Kwiatkowski’s second time presenting her research in a professional setting. In spring 2018, she travelled with the University Honors Program to Washington, D.C. and presented at the Southern Regional Honors Conference. She also recently had the opportunity to present her research at the Georgia Political Science Association Conference in Savannah, Georgia.

These conferences are vital for undergraduates pursuing research because they give students the opportunity to grow and to converse with professionals. Prangley recommends attending these events to all students looking to extend their education beyond the classroom. “Attending this conference not only furthered my research, but prompted personal development and networking. Even if a student is in the process of completing their research, presenting at a conference is a safe environment constructed for shared perspectives that can solidify one’s focus and further guide their project,” she said.

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