This semester, many of our undergraduate team members are registered for a course focusing on the research methods of Project Vox. Dana Hogan and Yasemin Altun led the students through a semester of learning the ways that we train students to write for a public audience, how to conduct research in philosophy, and how to collaborate on a group project. This is a reflection from the students about what they learned this semester.
I think that the major takeaway that I have from this semester with is a better understanding of the roles on a project team. I was able to engage with people servicing the project in a verity of ways whether that be translation, social media, marketing, research, data visualization and more. At the beginning of the semester, we were told that the team was very friendly and had a flat structure. Admittedly, I was skeptical having been used to work environments that more commonly had hierarchal structures based upon experience. I can earnestly say that despite being in a room full of subject matter experts with much more work experience than myself, I always felt as though my opinion mattered just as much anyone else and encouraged to express it as such.
I think this semester has made me reconsider what it is that I want to do with my life. I think that it’s super easy to just keep my head down and follow the footsteps of the person in front of me, but I think that this could lead me astray. I’m not sure what it is specifically that I want my life’s work to be, but I do know some qualities about it. First, this semester has made me more aware that I want to be able to see the fruits of my labor, meaning that I don’t want to be too detached from the purpose of my labor. Among my favorite meetings was when we went over the website analytics and we were able to see how many people visited the site and see an uptick in visitors close to the start of the semester when teachers are making their course outlines. Second, I want to work in a collaborative work environment; I feel like I learned so much at every meeting and it didn’t feel like work. I think that I am someone who feels uplifted by interacting with other people, especially to create product that I could not have created on my own.
Project Vox amplifies historically marginalized voices outside of the traditional philosophical canon, a task that involves repeated instances of collaborative teamwork, detailed research, and thorough writing. Contributing to such a powerful mission yield both professional and personal lessons that can transcend the project itself, in effect developing the researchers concurrently with the research itself. As an undergraduate student granted the opportunity to work alongside fellow undergrads, department chairs, and PhD students, Project Vox’s team alone confers beneficial experience that carries over to all walks of life. Throughout the semester, I felt myself become increasingly comfortable with my team members, which has in turn given me the confidence to continue honing my collaborative skills in other arenas within my life.
Project Vox has reframed my mindset on research and reading, with its meticulous demands for accuracy and citations teaching me the proper manner of creating a legitimate group product for both the public and members of academia to consume with equal enjoyment. Every student has likely encountered research projects, oftentimes in conjunction with the creation of a final product. The research of Project Vox is nothing foreign, but in these past projects, the expectations around citing images, logging metadata, and creating a publishable product were less than those we encountered with Project Vox. Working on this entry has given me a new framework for viewing research—the end goal should not solely be about the researcher learning information on a new topic for their own personal knowledge, but it should also yield a reproducible and traceable pathway for the public to consume and follow in their own pursuits of knowledge.
Through writing a variety of different works for the project, each with varying lengths and topics, I discovered that when my high school teachers told me that “revision is the key to good writing,” they were not lying. Writing is a situationally universal skill and focusing on specificity and clarity with one’s writing is a hallmark of effective communication. Writing under a deadline with the goal for a product to be understandable and past the high threshold for publishing has its benefits for future endeavors.
Throughout this semester, Project Vox has provided me with a wide range of valuable skills that I can apply to both my personal and professional life. These skills include the ability to effectively conduct research, critically analyze information, and clearly and concisely communicate ideas through written work. One of the key skills I developed further in this class was the ability to conduct research. Our project this semester involved identifying relevant sources of information, evaluating their credibility and relevance, and effectively incorporating them into our own written work.
Another important skill I learned throughout the semester was the ability to critically analyze information. This involves carefully examining the evidence and arguments presented in a given source, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and using this information to support or challenge a particular point of view.
Also, Project Vox has helped me develop my ability to effectively communicate my ideas through written work. Creating my subsection and our entry involved organizing my thoughts and arguments in a clear and logical manner, using language that is appropriate for the audience and purpose and using evidence to support my claims.
Furthermore, Project Vox has helped me accomplish one of my many goals from the start of the semester: to learn more about philosophy. As a STEM student, I don’t often encounter the concepts and works common in philosophy, which is a shame as I have always found myself to be very interested in the topic. Working on Project Vox has allowed me to learn about a field I’ve always been interested in through a unique lens, as it has exposed me to many figures and works that are not typically highlighted in philosophical canon, and has allowed me to engage more deeply with the subject than would have been possible if I was only reading and studying philosophy in my leisure time.
The tutorial course was an incredible journey for me. As a senior, I’ve done research and reading-heavy courses before, but this course made me really go out of my comfort zone in managing my time.
Regarding reading, since we each must read at least five books, I’ve learned the importance of digesting information quickly and trying to find the important/interesting points without losing myself in the details. I’ve gained some skills in effectively highlighting a text, annotating a text. More importantly, I’ve learned to read with a big picture in mind. How does this information relate to my entry? Where can I incorporate it? What are some of the texts that I should elaborate on? These are all questions that stay with me throughout my reading journey.
Regarding teamwork, I’d say that this is the one aspect that I admire the most about the tutorial course. I am grateful to our wonderful small team. Each of them is motivated and is willing to take tasks when others can’t. Over the course of the semester, we’ve worked on multiple small projects together, which created a bond that was helpful in ensuring the successful, smooth production of the final entry. I think we had a wonderful team dynamic, and that was because each of us was willing to devote time and energy to the entry. We also learned how to effectively cooperate with each other through classes with Dana where we talked about bad situations, we’ve encountered doing teamwork. The scenarios mentioned by my teammates served as a reminder for me that my teammates would not like some behaviors, and I would caution myself from behaving in certain ways that might hinder teamwork.