MONTICELLO, AR — Three political science students at the University of Arkansas at Monticello participated in the first World Congress on Undergraduate Research (WCUR) hosted by the National Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) at Qatar University in Doha, Qatar, November 13-15.
Gauge Adkins of Vilonia, Cody Bijou of Crosby, Tex., and Reagan Dobbs of Dayton, Tex., made up the three-person UAM delegation. Each student gave a 20-minute conference presentation of their individual original political science research papers followed by a question-and-answer session. Dr. Carol Strong, associate professor of political science at UAM and a CUR councilor, moderated a student panel and participated in one of the general plenary sessions about the value of international experience for undergraduate researchers.
The WCUR selected the top 200 undergraduate researchers from all applicants. The applicants were accompanied by faculty mentors and other supporters. All disciplines were represented and students converged from around the world, representing the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others. The theme of the Congress was to build cultural bridges in the international community to overcome stereotypes and increase intercontinental dialogue among the future leaders of the world.
Bijou, a senior political science and communications double major, and Reagan Dobbs, a senior political science major, presented papers on finding more effective ways to approach the ongoing war on terrorism by addressing how stereotypes by Americans about Muslims (and by Muslims about Americans) complicates existing avenues of communication among international actors representing the different countries of the world.
Bijou’s paper, entitled “The Internet as Recruitment Tool: Using Social Exchange Theories and Symbolic Convergence to Evaluate How ISIS Manipulates and Maintains Membership Support,” addressed the communication theories of social exchange and symbolic convergence in order to understand how ISIS recruits members and why their communication techniques have been so effective. The intention of his paper was to add to the literature on combating groups like ISIS through the creation of a more complex analytical tool meant to provide alternative perspectives on how such groups recruit members in order to more effectively combat against them.
Dobbs’ paper, entitled “Terrorism, Core Global Problem or Symptom of Recurrent Global Issues: Re-Conceptualizing the War on Terror as a Cooperative Initiative,” is a critique of the concept of a war on terror that explores the ramifications of using violent rhetoric in retaliation to terrorist activity. Dobbs’ paper comparatively analyzed the fine line that differentiates war and terrorism in order to determine the conditions under which terrorism occurs and continues, which in turn would allow for more effective counterterrorism measures emphasizing a coordinated international effort.
Adkins, a junior political science and criminal justice double major, presented a paper considering the growth potential offered through the implementation of social democratic programs within existing political structures. Adkins’ paper, entitled: “Is Socialism Really Evil? Examining the Balancing Potential of Socialized Health and Education Programs,” addressed common misconceptions about socialism and discussed how more socialized programs might enhance a country’s health and education sectors.
For more information, contact Dr. Carol Strong at (870) 460-1687.
Dr. Carol Strong (seated, center) accompanied three UAM students to the World Congress on Undergraduate Research in Qatar recently. Pictured from left (standing) are Cody Bijou, Gauge Adkins and Reagan Dobbs.
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