Student Honors Papers

The Student Honors Papers collection represents exemplary work in anthropology and sociology at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Ames Library is proud to archive these and other honors projects in Digital Commons @ IWU, the University's online archive of student, faculty and staff scholarship and creative activity.

Parent Opinions and Perceptions of Others on Queering High School Education

by Nicki Lewis

Based on an online survey of 30 parents of public high school students, this paper analyzes how parents form opinions around sexuality in high schools. I focus on the relationship between personal opinion and the perceptions of others as well as normative and non-normative understandings of gender and sexuality. I found parents to be accepting of LGBTQ+ inclusion policies overall, especially those with LGBTQ+ children. Despite this overall support, parents are more accepting of romantic literature that contains normative relationships rather than queer relationships. I suggest that hegemonic culture supporting heterosexuality influences the opinions of parents and often causes them to see other parents as less accepting of LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives than themselves. The results point to the importance of dismantling heteronormativity in order to create space for queer individuals in the education system.

Exploring the Efficacy of Corporate Social Responsibility

by Olivia Causer

Corporate social responsibility is a diverse and ever-changing field that presents refreshed opportunities for corporations to effectively utilize their expansive social capital networks, employees, expertise, and economic capital to benefit the communities they serve (Gond, Kang, and Moon 2011). I measure the effectiveness of local CSR efforts by utilizing expert interviews with representatives from corporations and local non-profit community organizations. An examination of who benefits from these complex, and often mutually exclusive, relationships between corporations and organizations suggests that current approaches to corporate social responsibility may not be ideal. The current focus of corporations is typically on providing financial capital for organizations, when in fact, a focus on human capital (i.e. volunteerism) is found to be more effective.

Rice Terrace Degradation in Ifugao: Causation and Cultural Preservation

by Chaepter Negro

The Cordilleran rice terraces of Northern Luzon, Philippines, are a testament to Filipino ingenuity and remain an important social-ecological system within highland indigenous communities. Ifugao, one of six Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) provinces, is best known for its expansive and World Heritage Site recognized rice terraces, and has been a popular tourist destination in the Philippines for the past twenty years. According to local rice farmers, though, the terraces in Ifugao are quickly becoming degraded, as a series of external and internal factors have placed pressure on the indigenous community. Drawing from anthropological, ecological, and historical sources, I examine the history and current state of the Ifugao rice terraces. I analyze the effects of tourism and rural out-migration to pinpoint the root causes of terrace degradation, examining Ifugao traditional knowledge (TK) alongside Western values of productivity and industry. Ultimately, I find that the best path forward in ending terrace degradation requires both Ifugao and Western thought, and I argue that the commodification of heirloom rice varieties in Ifugao best embodies this framework. I further argue that IRRI's HRP has the funding and framework to successfully and sustainably commodify heirloom rice, assuming that IRRI employs community-driven development (CDD).

LGBTQIA+ Campus Climate at a Small Liberal Arts University: An Exploratory Study with the Aim of Improving the Environment for Queer Students

by Mary Amanda Breeden

Research suggests that a significant portion of LGBTQIA+ individuals report that their sexual orientation and/or gender identity play a substantial role in choosing which postsecondary institution to attend; thus, it is incumbent upon institutions for higher education to assess their respective campus climates. This project evaluates LGBTQIA+ campus climate at a small, private, Midwestern liberal arts university. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, I interviewed my queer-identified classmates – selected via a combination of strategic and snowball sampling – about their experiences on campus. Through these discussions, I gained a better understanding of queer students’ experiences within the classroom, extracurricular activities, living spaces, and elsewhere throughout the institution. Findings include a divide between cisgender and transgender or nonbinary participants’ perceptions of campus climate, as well as incongruence in institutional policy and students’ lived experiences. The information I gleaned from these interviews was then used to suggest ways for the university to better serve its LGBTQIA+ population.

Mother Goddesses and Subversive Witches: Competing Narratives of Gender Essentialism, Heteronormativity, Feminism, and Queerness in Wiccan Theology and Ritual

by Carly B. Floyd

Wicca has typically been viewed as an empowering alternative to institutionalized and patriarchal religions, and women especially have been drawn to this religion because of its inclusion of women as goddesses and priestesses. It is also seen as a sex-positive religion, and many LGBTQ+ people embrace Wicca due to its lack of concepts such as sin and shame, especially around sex and sexuality. This research, however, troubles the claim that Wicca is a feminist, woman-friendly, queer-friendly religion. While women are celebrated and valued, I argue that women’s positive portrayal as mothers, nurturers, emotional, and intuitive portrays women’s nature in a gender essentialist way. My research also explores the consequences and limitations of emphasizing Wicca as a fertility religion, as women’s power is theoretically restricted to their potential for motherhood. The resulting heteronormativity and its procreative focus can create an exclusionary environment for gay men and women as well as for transgender and genderfluid or non-binary individuals. For this research, I engaged in ethnographic participant-observation of a local Wiccan coven and conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with Wiccans and Pagans from across the United States and England. In doing so, I was able to gauge Wiccan practitioners’ attitudes related to gender and sexuality and explore the ways in which Wiccans are modifying their practices to be more inclusive.

Accessibility to Food Intolerance and Food Allergy Resources in McLean County, Illinois: An Interdisciplinary Pilot Study

by Raelynn Parmely

Food intolerances and food allergies are evolving and diagnoses of such conditions are rapidly increasing. Yet our ancient bodies and social resources are not adapting to this dynamic environment. Accessing healthcare and allergen-free foods is necessary for all people with food allergies and intolerances, but gaps in social resources complicate acquiring these resources, especially for low-income individuals. This interdisciplinary pilot study utilizes a mixed method approach, including sociologically and anthropologically-based surveys and participant observation, respectively, and is guided by the action research approach. Data analysis illustrates major gaps in access to healthcare, specifically to dietitians, and in food acquisition from government agencies and food pantries. All grocery stores included in this study have some amount of allergen-free foods, but knowledge of these products varies drastically. The paper is concluded with a resource-neutral plan of action that aims to enhance the lives of people who suffer from food intolerances in McLean County, Illinois.

The Sustained Impact of an Engaging Diversity Program on College Seniors’ Color-Blind Racial Attitudes

by Josefina Banales

This study utilizes a mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) approach to evaluate the long-term impact of Illinois Wesleyan University’s Engaging Diversity Program on white students’ color-blind racial attitudes. Survey data reveals that white students who participated in the program not only endorse fewer color-blind racial attitudes than they did immediately after completing the program, but that they also have a more critical awareness of race than the control sample of non-Engaging Diversity students. Individual interviews with Engaging Diversity participants also reveal a link between these students’ learned racial consciousness and their involvement as social justice leaders and advocates on campus. These findings are particularly significant given that IWU is dedicated to cultivating a socially aware and active campus climate. This program assessment, which is also grounded in scholarly research on racial attitudes and the role diversity interventions play in their maintenance, demonstrates how the Engaging Diversity program can serve as a model for other campus initiatives dedicated to meeting diversity and social justice goals.

Self-Reported Experiences of Dating Abuses among College Students in Romantic Relationships

by Melissa A. Kinsella

Past researchers have examined the prevalence of dating violence among college-aged students in the United States. Using a self-reported survey of the experiences of current college students, this study analyzed some of the factors related to physical, emotional, and sexual abuses in their romantic relationships. From that analysis, comparisons were drawn with the research from other college-university samples, attempting to describe and explore the problem of violence in premarital relationships. In the sample, race, number of past serious romantic relationships, and frequency of experienced anger was associated with minor physical abuse. Non-involvement in Greek Life was associated with experiencing major physical abuse. Gender, sexual orientation, and current year in school were associated with experiencing sexual abuse. Number of months spent in a most recent romantic relationship, consuming alcohol, and weekly alcohol consumption were associated with experiencing sexual abuse.

Filling a House with Meaning: The Construction of a Chicago Housing Cooperative

by Laura Hones

A housing cooperative is a non-profit form of housing tenure that has been a feature of American university campuses since the 1930s. Living in a co-op allows members the benefits of low rent, a close-knit social group, and democratic control of their living space. Unlike communes, however, members do not typically share income or unite around a particular ideology. This paper is the result of ethnographic research of one such house, Haymarket House of Qumbya Housing Cooperative in Hyde Park, Chicago. In 1988 the founders of Haymarket established its methods of structuring everyday life on principles of socialism, egalitarianism, and environmentalism. Since then, as residents have come and gone, the community has shifted away from its politically-charged origins, though members are still conscious of the political implications of their everyday life. This article seeks to understand the character of people’s lived experience with co-op living and the relationships of the people of Haymarket to the ideologies “built in” to their everyday practices. Though ethnographic research revealed that members differ in their attitudes about the concepts of utopia and intentional community, they share a desire to live differently than their neighbors, and Haymarket allows them a space to imagine alternatives.

Perceptions of the Underrepresentation of Women in Agriculture and Motives for Movement into the Industry

by Jennifer Long

In the U.S., agriculture has historically been a male-dominated industry. Women have been underrepresented in agriculture even as they have played important roles on and off the farm. In the last 25 years, however, women have been moving into agriculture and increasing their visibility in positions on and off the farm even in light of structural changes to agriculture and environmental concerns. Learning motives for moves into the industry can help supply information about the changing roles of women in agriculture and help determine whether agricultural trends follow other occupational trends. Giving a voice to women that have been underrepresented can help them continue to alter the roles expected of them and policies can be developed to support them. An in-depth literature review and 16 in-depth interviews were conducted in the Midwest region of the United States. Twelve interviewees had roles on the farm, 7 women had roles off the farm, and 3 women had roles on and off the farm. It was found that women have been underrepresented for a number of reasons including the social construction of gender, patriarchal households, documentation issues, cultural and familial changes. Regardless, women are changing the roles expected of them and opportunities are increasing, especially in the sustainable agriculture, locavore and local food movement. Agriculture does not follow the occupational trends of women moving into male-dominated industries and women have multiple reasons for moving into the industry. Technical and social barriers women experience when they enter agriculture have been overcome with networking.