Our first student spotlight features Morgan Brown, who is a member of the Georgetown College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2014 majoring in American Studies. Her research explores how music festivals have become a popular cultural phenomenon and provide attendees with unique risk-taking opportunities.
How did you become involved in research at Georgetown?
I owe my interest in pursuing my research topic to the American Studies department. Being an American Studies major requires more than just fulfilling the necessary requirements. This interdisciplinary program allows you to engage in subjects you are most interested in, and forces you to think about the content from different perspectives of American history and culture. This major was built for exercising ones ability to conduct research and critically analyze the data in your own way.
What was your favorite part about the research process?
Writing a thesis is an everyday commitment. It requires way too many hours in Lauinger, too many dollars for printing in the Gelardin New Media Center, and too many drafts that I pretend to read and reread. But these trivial complaints fade away when I sit down at the computer and realize that I am researching a subject that I sought out. This is MY work, and I don’t have to ask permission to take it in any direction I want. The combination of researching something I am actually passionate about and something I get to control makes me love the process.
How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?
I could not thank the American Studies program enough for being very involved in the thesis process. I am incredibly fortunate to have a committee of professors, advisors, mentors, TA’s, and fellow thesis mates who are looking out for me. I don’t think that support group always exists for others who conduct research.
The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?
I think my thesis is a perfect example of interdisciplinary work. To be blunt, there is no way I could do any kind of research if my program did not encourage an interdisciplinary approach. My data comes from various disciplines such as oral history, ethnomusicology, performance studies, economics, and sociology. Opening your topic to various fields of study allows for a greater discussion, which ultimately allows you to view your work in different ways. That is always a positive thing!
Describe your research in one sentence.
As long as daddy pays for it, my crop top and I are #sooooready to turn up at Coachella!
What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?
Establishing relationships with professors allows you to make connections and pursue subjects you are interested. Look into their background and find out what research they have done. I fortuitously took a class with a professor I didn’t research. But it turned out I wanted to follow the exact path he took after graduation. I have taken three classes with him since and he was my advisor for this thesis. Don’t be afraid to take chances and reach out to professors! Research might scare some people, but you will never know if you don’t try!