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Westminster students and faculty member present at North Central Sociological Association meeting

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Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2023

Westminster College senior criminal justice majors presented research at the annual meeting of the North Central Sociological Association (NCSA) in Grand Rapids, Mich., in March 2023. 

Emma Gurley ’23 of New Castle, Pa., and Vanessa Tom ’23 of White Oak, Pa., attended the meeting alongside their social sciences capstone adviser Dr. Kristin Park, professor of sociology at Westminster. 

Gurley presented her research, “A Study of Language and Content Specialization for Student Athletes,” which tested two research instruments for their effectiveness in measuring mental health challenges and related resources for varsity athletes. 

Tom presented “Effects of Religiosity, Political Affiliation and Gender Role Identity on Men’s Attitudes toward Abortion.” She used Amazon MTurk—a crowdsourcing website for businesses that allow them to hire and perform discrete on-demand tasks that computers are unable to do—to obtain a sample for her survey studying the effects of these independent variables on men’s attitudes toward abortion rights. 

“These students worked hard and showed resilience in the face of the inevitable delays and challenges involved when a researcher collects their own data,” said Park. “I am proud of the work they completed and they represented Westminster well.”

Park also presented twice at the meeting. Her first presentation, “Using Socratic Seminars to Foster Close Reading and Layered Questioning of Texts,” described and assessed her personal use of Socratic seminars in her Cultural Anthropology, Religion and Society course and her Inquiry classes.

Park’s second presentation, “Including the Old Order Amish in Curricular Diversity Requirements,” argued for he appropriateness of including this population in higher education DEI requirements, especially near Amish settlements, due to the “difficult differences” that the community presents around the concept of diversity. 

Park, who joined the Westminster faculty in 1993, earned her undergraduate degree from Colgate University and a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds a master’s certificate in Latin American Studies from Chapel Hill.

The NCSA is a regional organization for sociologists and is committed to the development and support of their members over the course of their careers.

For more information on Westminster’s criminal justice program, click here.