Roughly 40 faculty and students gathered in Moseley 215 Tuesday, for a Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) symposium presented by the Program for Ethnographic Research and Community Studies.

Titled, “Ethnography across Disciplines: Understanding Global and Local Communities,” the student-run symposium sought to contextualize various cultural identities through the research of Elon undergraduate students.

Students presented four individual research projects, each dissecting the cultural identities of local, but vastly different communities.

When researching, the students were mindful of the symposium’s themes, which were subcategorized into three headings; Community Access, Thematic Findings and Nature of Ethnography.

“Community Access” refers to issues of bureaucracy and hierarchy, as well as demographic divides, “Thematic Findings” denotes identity construction and community building, and “Nature of Ethnography” touched on participatory experience and the “messiness” of ethnographic data.

Seniors Leena Dahal and Osca Opoku, who conducted their researched under the guide of Dr. Mussa Idris, assistant professor of anthropology, focused their research on refugee resettlement experiences in Greensboro.

Their research subjects hailed from Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Eritrea, as well as from Bhutan, an Asian nation just north of Bangladesh.

Dahal and Opoku studied the needs, challenges and opportunities of the new refugee communities.

Next, senior Melina Oliverio presented her findings on the religious identities in a North Carolina Sikh Community. She conducted her research under Dr. Amy Allocco, associate professor of religious studies.

Oliverio would regularly visit the Sikh Gurudwara in Durham, where she met many Sikhs, especially young individuals, who considered themselves to have hybrid identities.

She also noted that Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, and while the majority of the population is still in India, Sikhs she met with said they were better Sikhs in the United States.

Senior Jennifer Osborne followed, presenting her research of the Ethnography of the Morgan Place Community, a study sponsored by Dr. Tom Mould, professor of anthropology.

The Morgan Place Community, directly adjacent the Station at Mill Point apartments, is undergoing a phenomenon Osborne termed “studenification,” a parallel to gentrification, but where students, instead of upper-class individuals, move into non-university communities.

Generally a slow process, Osborne said many in the Morgan Place Community appreciate studentification, as it has reduced crime rates.

Finally, junior Amber Adams-Kuebler, sponsored by Dr. Scott Morrison, assistant professor of educated, presented her research on, “The Bridges and Barriers to Environmental Education on an ‘Educating Children Outdoors’ campus.”

Her findings concluded the abilities of teachers in those environments depended on three variables; time constraints, personal level of discomfort outdoors and uncertainty of environmental factors.

Students then fielded the questions of audience members following the close of Adams-Kuebler's presentation. 

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