Luther College student presents Paideia research paper at research symposium

Early this fall, Luther sophomore Amelia Morrow was accepted to speak at the Reflecting Black Fall Research Symposium: 400 Years (1619-2019) of African American Life and History in Houston. She traveled to the University of Houston to present her research and take part in a panel discussion.

"I put a lot of work and time into the paper so being accepted felt rewarding," said Morrow. "I feel honored to have had the opportunity to present and discuss on a panel with other students and scholars."

Morrow's research began when she was assigned her Paideia research paper, a project undergone by all first-year Luther students as a part of the Paideia class. Her research explored the intersections between hippie counterculture movements and Black communities in the 1960s. The title of her paper is "White Washed Culture: How the Hippie Counterculture Movements of the 1960's Undermined the Progression of People of Color Amidst a Mask of Love."

"My research focused on the Haight and Ashbury counterculture movement as a case study to analyze segregation, appropriation and gentrification in and around counterculture movements," said Morrow.

Morrow's Paideia professor Novian Whitsitt, Luther College professor of Africana studies and English, says he was immediately struck by her original argument and scholarship. 

"She was able to read primary and secondary sources, recognize that she needed to develop a new perspective on the counter-cultural experience and articulate a persuasive and well-grounded argument. Its level of analysis really blew me away and she accomplished this task with enthusiasm and confidence," Whitsitt said.

The symposium combines research from various levels of education including undergraduate students, Ph.D candidates and Ph.Ds as well as different fields of study. Morrow was informed of the opportunity by Kelly Sharp, Luther assistant professor of Africana studies and history.

"It's a huge deal for Amelia to have been selected for this conference. She was the youngest presenter and shared a panel with professors and Ph.D students at top research institutions. I believe going to conferences is a wonderful experience for students to network and learn while also representing Luther to a broader, national audience. I think it's particularly important for students of color to see there is a whole world of academics that look like them and share their culture and lived experience and are succeeding in academia," said Sharp.

The Paideia program is unique to Luther College and Morrow believes that it is an important part of the Luther curriculum. It is a two-semester course for first-year students that is taught by faculty from every academic discipline and builds critical thinking, reading, research and writing skills at the heart of a liberal arts education.

"The Paideia research unit was empowering because it gave me the freedom to explore what I was interested in, while also providing me with the tools to better understand the research/writing process," said Morrow.

"It (Paideia) helps to develop the students' critical thinking in the areas of reading, writing and speaking. The research paper is the spring semester's essential assignment and students get an opportunity to dive deeply into a research subject, learning how to make use of library resources. Amelia did an excellent job of making use of peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals, historical monographs and a handful of primary sources in the process of writing her paper," Whitsitt said.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.