Study Abroad Turns into Prize-Winning Paper

February 28, 2012

Danielle Davis

During a field trip to Morocco in May, Danielle Davis ’12 (right) and classmates visited the Medina of Fez.

When Danielle Davis ’12 participated in a Moroccan field study in May 2011, she wasn’t thinking about how she might be able to translate her experience into a prize-winning paper.

But as it turns out, the time she spent abroad with Professor of Philosophy Margaret McLaren and Associate Professor of Anthropology Rachel Newcomb deeply informed her academic experience back on campus. It even eventually found its way into a paper written for Assistant Professor of International Business Tonia Warnecke’s class Globalization and Gender.

“Throughout the trip we discussed the importance of gender roles and gender appropriates spaces as a group and this idea really fascinated me,” Davis said. “Before Professor Warnecke’s class, however, I had never before studied all the different ways in which globalization positively and negatively affects different genders and social classes.”

The assignment required Davis to explore globalization and gender issues affecting a specific nation. “Having actually been to the country and studied different social aspects of Morocco made the paper that much easier and interesting to write because instead of collecting all of my information from academic journals and books, I had the opportunity to use my own experiences and observations when deciding what sort of social issues and initiatives to focus on.”

In her paper, “Feminization of Space and Equality for Women in Morocco,” Davis dives into her first-hand observations of the way women’s roles in Moroccan society have been marginalized for centuries due what Davis described as a “dichotomy of masculine and feminine space.”

“Due to this gendering of the public and private spaces, women’s involvement in economic, social, legal and academic spheres has been significantly hindered,” said Davis. “While in many ways globalization has benefited Moroccan men more than women, in the past few decades the revision of legal codes, increase in women's labor market participation, and rise in female-targeted education and economic programs have led to a reorganization of space that has significantly liberated women. I investigate a variety of policy initiatives aiming to capitalize on this reorganization of space, using it as a catalyst for encouraging greater equality as well as economic and social mobility for women of all regions of Morocco.”

The Transition from Student to Academic

Midway through the process, Professor Warnecke encouraged Davis to submit the paper to the Association for Institutional Thought. “She gave me some ideas on how to tailor it to fit the competition and then Professor Newcomb read over the paper and gave me her feedback as well,” said Davis. “I was incredibly impressed by their support. It really showed how much they care and how much they want to see me go somewhere in life.”

In December, Davis’s paper was one of 28 submissions being considered by the Association for Institutional Thought. A few weeks later, she heard word that she had won the Student Paper Scholar Award, one of three such honors bestowed. “I was the only undergrad and the only female to win,” she said.

Excitement quickly turned to apprehension when Davis learned that in order to receive her $300 prize, she would have to present her paper at the Western Social Science Association annual conference in Houston this April. “I’m nervous about presenting but Professor Warnecke is going to practice with me, and she’ll also be at the conference. I think it will be a great experience,” said Davis.

In a few months, Davis will graduate and move toward a career in public relations or possibly attend grad school. But whichever direction she chooses, she feels that the Moroccan field study, and all that followed, has left a profound impression on her overall experience at Rollins.

By Kristen Manieri

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