Celebrating Student Scholars: An Introduction

Article excerpt

The essays in this issue of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge have received awards in The Kingston-Mann Student Achievement Awards for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship. Written by undergraduate students who address deeply urgent and important issues, each essay possesses a clear, distinctive voice. The authors do not turn away from difficult questions and do not waffle, even when they are dealing with questions and data that are ambiguous or contradictory. Although faculty may be accustomed to academic articles rife with qualifiers, indirect points, jargon, and a limited concern for relevance, the essays included here are the works of engaged researchers. They frequently include a call to action, sometimes persuasive for its subtle, measured tone. In this issue, students invite us to consider some traditional merits of scholarly work that have been lost, such as clear and jargon-free writing. They also point the way to new kinds of merit, such as using previously neglected information sources, paying attention to silenced or marginalized voices and questions, and raising issues of social justice.

This introduction has three parts. First, we introduce the process by which we solicited and judged these award winning articles by undergraduate scholars. Second, we provide an overview of the essays' themes and some of the 'aha' moments that occurred when we recognized how much we were learning from the students. Third, we discuss how the students' research achievements might affect their role as engaged members of academia and the influence they might exert upon a much wider audience in an increasingly diverse civic sphere.

I. The Kingston-Mann Student Achievement Awards for excellence in diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

This competition for undergraduate students recognizes and honors student achievements in scholarship that focuses on questions of diversity and inclusion. (1) The awards committee seeks submissions of work that (1) applies a gender, race, culture/ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic class, age, disability, or sexual orientation analysis to research in any discipline, or (2) focuses on the contributions of women and men of diverse backgrounds to society, history, culture, or thought in any area of study. Interdisciplinary approaches, and analyses that consider the intersection of multiple dimensions of diversity, are particularly encouraged. The awards committee is composed of faculty members from eight colleges and universities (2) in the New England region whose student population includes many non-traditional, not highly privileged, first generation college students.

Before the awards program was created, there was an abundance of awards that recognized students for leadership, involvement in campus or community life, athleticism, or high grades across their classes. But few reward students for their original research and acknowledge them as emerging practitioners of the kind of work that faculty do. This award was created to celebrate student scholars, and specifically to recognize how the diversity of our students helps them contribute perceptive scholarship on diversity and inclusion. In addition, the regional character of this project permits student achievement to be recognized in a cross-institution process, and introduces their work to students and faculty beyond their classroom, their field, and their campus. The Kingston-Mann awards explicitly celebrate students as scholars, and welcome them into a process of generating and disseminating the new ideas that nourish higher education. In this process, students who may have experienced a sense of marginality within the university community can begin to see that their work may contribute to the university's core commitment to scholarship.

The award focuses specifically on diversity/inclusion scholarship. Our call for submissions explicitly defines some elements of inclusive scholarship, and include an appendix and a bibliography. …