Georgetown College Students Shine at Global Social Research Symposium

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Viktoria Hengelbrok (CAS’23) answers a question at the Global Social Research Symposium.

October 3, 2022

Posted in News Story  |  Tagged  Center for Social JusticeEventsUndergraduate Research

Four students from the Georgetown University College of Arts & Sciences presented at this year’s Global Social Research Symposium. 

The symposium, which offers a platform for undergraduates to showcase original research, brings together different programs and initiatives from across the university, like the Education & Social Justice Fellowship (ESJ). Administered in partnership by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs and Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service, the ESJ Fellowship sends students abroad and to domestic locations for three weeks each summer to conduct interviews at Jesuit-led institutions. 

Last summer, Viktoria Hengelbrok (CAS’23), spent three weeks in Lisbon, Portugal at the nonprofit Fundação Gonçalo de Silveira, or FGS. The organization is dedicated to addressing inequalities within Portuguese communities by developing global citizens and promoting care for the common good. 

“I gained valuable experience in qualitative research methods, while also learning about the ways that FGS is working towards addressing inequalities in a variety of educational contexts,” says Hengelbrok. “This experience challenged me to grow as a researcher, and also encouraged me to think critically about the ways in which we contribute, both individually and on a societal level, to the injustices around us.”

Hengelbrok, a senior majoring in justice and peace studies with a minor in psychology, also looked at the impact of the Ditadura Nacional and Estado Novo dictatorships, which lasted in Portugal from 1926 until 1968, on the country’s education system.

Lots of Laidlaw Love

Georgetown’s inaugural class of Laidlaw Fellows also attended the symposium. Three of the four fellows who presented were College students: Renée Clark (CAS’24), Dami Kim (CAS’24) and Cade Spencer (CAS’25).

From left to right: Cade Spencer (CAS’25), Dami Kim (CAS’24), Syed Kumail Zaidi (SFS’24) and Renée Clark (CAS’24).

Through a partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation, the Center for Research and Fellowships sponsors passionate, motivated undergraduate scholars who conduct independent research in their areas of interest.

Kim, a junior double majoring in history and philosophy with a minor in classics, created the Frederick Douglass Anthology, an online compendium of the abolitionist’s most important writings. 

“Inspired by Douglass’s commitment to learning, the Frederick Douglass Anthology serves as a resource to study his works as a key piece of American literature,” says Kim. “I wanted to create a resource for educators that makes his most prominent works accessible online, specifically designed for research and writing in history classrooms.”

The anthology not only provides the text of many of Douglass’s works, but includes important historical context alongside newspaper excerpts, a timeline of his life and links to additional primary sources on Douglass. 

Spencer, a sophomore double majoring in government and English, conducted a critical policy analysis of Texas dyslexia law. As a native Texan and dyslexic student, Spencer had a personal stake in his area of research. 

“My research experience empowered, enriched and impassioned my collegiate education journey,” says Spencer. “It was truly a gift to explore the very policies and laws that supported my educational journey in the Texas public education system.”

The symposium was co-hosted by the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service, the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs and the Center for Research and Fellowships. 

-by Hayden Frye (CAS’17)