While many undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct research, few see their work published in an academic journal. But that’s exactly what Hannah Petersen ’22 and Ashley Garcia ’22 accomplished with the article. âSchools as Racialized Organizations in Policy and Practiceâ, published last month in the international peer-reviewed journal Sociology compass.
The article, which explains the couple’s research with lead author, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology Mahala Stewart, focuses on inequalities in modern education as explained and attributed to racialized institutions. “We are applying the components of this racial theory to provide a new framework for examining racial inequalities in American schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12,” the authors explain in the article’s summary.
Major: sociology and studies on women and gender
Birthplace: Hialeah, Florida.
High school: Mater Academy
Petersen and Garcia’s work emerged from Stewart’s course on inequalities in education, after which the couple continued their research through an independent study last spring. It was during this period that the document was finalized and submitted. âAlthough I worked with both of them on research over the winter, this article was written based on their outstanding work in my class,â said Stewart, adding that she hopes to help more students to publish in the future.
Regarding their research process, Petersen said they started by building a “mini program” that focused on a particular area of ââinterest to be explored in more detail through academic papers. These articles were recorded in an annotated bibliography, whose entries included information such as important findings and their relevance to the larger project.
âWe were on our own for a bit during the week and we got together every week to discuss our ideas and see how they connected,â said Petersen. âProfessor Stewart used these quotes to create the skeleton of the article; we were invited to modify and add different sections as needed.
Birthplace: Reading, Pennsylvania.
High school: The King’s Academy
For the document itself, Garcia described the importance of Victor Ray’s idea of ââracialized organizations, of which there are four main principles: improving or decreasing the action of racial groups, legitimizing the unequal distribution of resources, whiteness as a title decoupling race from existing inequalities. With these concepts in mind, the duo looked at three case studies, attempting to show how schools are not race neutral.
âIn particular, we highlight how these tenants appear through school policies (school rules regarding discipline, language and monitoring) and practices (interactions between students, teachers and staff),â the authors write.
While much of their research revolved around a “black-white binary,” the couple also incorporated Latinx students into their work, in order to get a feel for “racial hierarchies in general,” Garcia explained. .
Before this project, neither Garcia nor Petersen had been published in an academic journal. The two, however, spoke fondly of the new experience and its value for the future. âIt made me feel more confident about approaching internship or employment opportunities,â Garcia said. âIt helps me recognize that even though I am a student, I am quite capable of doing a great job. “
Petersen echoed these positive sentiments: âIt’s a great example of how the amazing experiences in Hamilton can beâ¦ our teachers are accessible to us and can see our interests in a way that allows us to collaborate with them. “