By: David Tribuch  | 

YU Presents the Humanities at Student Research Day

At two in the afternoon, on Sunday March 29, Belfer Hall served as the home for YU’s Student Research Day for the college’s humanities and social science majors. Students studying the liberal arts presented their research from a large variety of fields, from literature to art history, from political science to anthropology. Meirah Shedlo, who works in the Stern College for Women’s Dean’s Office, was really excited while organizing the event because “along with all the amazing science research done, providing an opportunity for humanities majors to present their research really paints a full picture as to what is being accomplished at this university.” When approached by Shedlo, many students jumped at the opportunity to present their work, while others joined after a little encouragement from their professors.

The first hour of the event presented a friendly, fair-type atmosphere, with students staying close to posters that displayed their research. The participants eagerly discussed their research with attendees, who made their rounds to view the displays.

When the first hour ended, all were asked to find seats, as a small number of the student researchers gave fifteen minute lectures on their research topics. First to present was Elianne Neuman, a senior at Stern majoring in History. Her presentation discussed the historiography of the Harvard student protest of 1969. She opened by saying that she started the her research for a class paper during the previous spring, but felt that there was more to be covered, and continued to do further research. Her topic focused on the account of an academic named Steven Kelman who was a student during the protest of ‘69. Neuman mentioned that most scholars agree with his take on the protests, but that many other students who attended Harvard at the time had a much different perspective on the event. Neuman went on to argue that when studying history, you would think to use eyewitness accounts to recreate the events of the day. However, this process would not produce a truly reliable account, due to the biases of the participants.

The second presenter was Daniel Atwood, a YC senior presenting his honors thesis. His presentation was on the “psychology of power.” He started by saying that power allows people to look at the big picture and to take risks to achieve their goals. However, people with limited power will be more conservative and use limited solutions to fix their problems. The focus of Atwood’s study was to determine how stability affects power. After surveying three hundred people, Atwood determined if someone’s felt that his position was unstable, they would be less inclined to take risks and exercise their power.

The final presentation of the day was Sima Fried, a first year anthropology major at Stern. Fried discussed her experience this past summer excavating the Philistine city of Gat. She explained how it is a very significant dig site and described the rigorous schedule of members of the dig. Wake up every morning was at five fifteen to arrive to the dig site a half hour later. From there it was straight digging, in the heat of the Israeli summer, all the way to noon. After a brief lunch break, everyone went back to work cleaning the samples that were found, and sending them to be dated. Fried then went into detail about a tedious part of the cleaning process, called heavy fractioning. Heavy fractioning is where archeologists put dirt samples into a centrifuge, and look for bits of flint and pottery one grain at a time. She concluded that despite the hard work, it was one of the best experiences of her life, and is something that everyone should do.

With this, the event concluded, and people got their final glimpses of the displays. Atwood said afterwards, “I think it was a really exciting event, giving students the opportunity to present their research to fellow students and faculty members...It's a shame that more students and professors didn't come to hear about and support the work their friends and students are doing.”