Six undergraduate students from Brigham Young University participated in the 12th annual Claremont–University of California Undergraduate Research Conference on Europe in Claremont, Calif., last weekend.
The conference brought together students from across the country to dive into the complex issues and challenges facing Europe. A total of thirteen panels with fifty-six papers covered a range of topics, including political economy, national identity, party ideologies, European history and transatlantic and international relations.
The BYU team—composed of students who had written their initial papers for a wide range of European studies courses—was mentored by Wade Jacoby, Mary Lou Fulton Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for the Study of Europe at BYU.
Through individual meetings, intensive peer feedback, and constructive criticism on writing and presentation, Jacoby helped ready the six students for the event. “The process of preparing a paper for the conference was rigorous but gratifying,” said Romy Franks, a senior double majoring in European Studies and German Studies.
BYU students upheld a tradition of excellence at the conference, performing incredibly well among young intellectuals from across the United States, the Netherlands, the UK and Kazakhstan. Richard Bruner, a history major minoring in international development, said, “Many people commented that BYU’s presenters were excellent and solid competition.”
In the end, 12 of the 56 papers were selected for publication. Of the 12, two belonged to Romy Franks and Taylor Shippen from BYU. After further revisions based on comments by faculty discussants, these papers will be published in an annual conference volume and included in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. According to David M. Andrews, director of the European Union Center of California at Scripps College (and BYU Kennedy Center alumnus), this was the maximum amount allotted for the conference volume, which, he noted, speaks very highly of the quality of this year’s panels.
Additionally, Franks was one of four students selected from the conference to participate in a sponsored trip to Brussels, Belgium, this summer.
To the student participants, their performance at the conference extended beyond the world of academia. Many of them commented on the opportunity the conference presented to represent their university and beliefs. Political science major Audrey Thompson said, “Our team represented both BYU and the Church well, bolstering our intellectual and moral reputations.”
“[I] enjoyed getting to interact with so many different schools from around the country,” Shippen said. His thoughts echo others involved in the conference who walked away feeling they had made a positive contribution to the academic world. “Above all, the conference was an opportunity to form connections with students and academics, to discuss a myriad of ideas, and to exchange different thoughts and opinions,” he said.
The event was hosted by the European Union Center of California at Scripps College and was co-sponsored by several other institutions across the west, including BYU’s Center for the Study of Europe and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.
For more information on Europe-related activities at BYU, visit the Center for the Study of Europe web site at http://europe.byu.edu.
Writer: Richard Bruner