Enrichment through presentation: Notes from the ASA Sociology of Development Conference

Written by Noelle LaDue, DevSoc ’19

On November 20th I presented at the ASA Sociology of Development section’s annual conference with Sidney Madsen, a DSoc graduate student, on research we conducted this past summer. Our talk was titled “Co-production of knowledge using semi-structured interviews: Experiences from collaboration with farmer researchers in a participatory agroecology project in Malawi.”

We had just begun research analysis from our summer work. Being provided support by the Polson Institute to attend and present was a great opportunity to synthesize and reflect as the analysis continues.

I had never done this type of presentation before; one that would be seen by more than just classmates, one that was based on field research I had worked on. The process of forming the presentation and articulating the most important details concisely was a challenge.

This also gave me an understanding of how the other presenters must go through a similar process. As a result, it led me to feel comfortable asking about work I had found to be particularly interesting or relevant to my own research inquiries. This weekend definitely felt like a sneak peek into some of the aspects of continuing school after a bachelor’s degree, and the process of participating in making a presentation enabled me to take best advantage of the opportunity. In addition, I am in the process of writing a senior honors thesis about seeds and smallholder agriculture in Malawi, and several of the presentations have pointed me towards further resources to inform my work.

There was quite a contingency of us representing the DSoc Department, and it was great to learn in-depth about the diversity of work being conducted by its members. The travel to and from the conference was a great time to talk to graduate students, learn about what graduate school is like, and learn about some of the considerations going into making the decision to attend. I feel excited about the prospect of going out into the world and finding something that inspires me, and from that place of commitment, pursuing graduate school as a means to engage in a long-term sense. I feel more prepared to think about my own academic future, and a sense of confidence for the possibility of joining academia once I have found my path and inspiration.


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