While COVID-19 may have interrupted many peoples’ summer plans, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the JD Power Center’s Research Associates Program!
Since Holy Cross is an undergraduate-only institution, the college is able to offer a large number of research positions to its undergraduate-only student body. Such a fact sets Holy Cross apart from the larger research universities, where the majority of research positions are filled by graduate students! The opportunity to conduct rigorous and robust research as an undergraduate student is an invaluable experience that will impress potential employers and graduate programs in the future. Also, the Research Associate’s Program comes with a $2,000 stipend, which is always an added plus!
Turning to the research itself, I was approved to be the research assistant of Professor Sim, a member of the college’s highly esteemed philosophy department. Professor Sim’s current research focuses on the formulation of a Confucian justification of human rights within the greater debate over Eastern and Western values. Many scholars have doubted whether Confucianism is compatible with a conception of human rights. However, Professor Sim contends that Confucianism’s inherent reliance on virtue makes it an apt tool to defend human rights. As both a philosophy and political science major, as well as an Asian Studies minor, Chinese philosophy and human rights are both central parts of my academic career. Further, my majors allowed me to enact an interdisciplinary approach to my research, a vital skill to have in all aspects of one’s life.
While my research consisted of some technical things like formatting Professor Sim’s upcoming book, the majority of my time was spent conducting independent research on Confucianism and human rights. Since I was reading and analyzing the arguments of scholars in the field of human rights, I was able to greatly refine my critical thinking skills. Every day of research, I would encounter new arguments for or against a Confucian perspective of human rights, which merits I would evaluate. Further, the discussions I had with Professor Sim tested my critical thinking skills even more as my arguments were put to the test, and my response was required on the spot. Additionally, discussions with Professor Sim enabled me to explore the topic of Confucian values and human rights further, which led to relevant resources for future research in political philosophy which interests me.
Overall, the Research Associates Program allowed me to pursue a passion of mine while also refining my research, writing, and critical thinking skills throughout the summer. To any prospective students, I would recommend taking into account the fact that Holy Cross is one of the only colleges out there that has a plethora of research opportunities for undergraduate students. The Research Associate’s Program has surely made me an even more well-rounded student and citizen — an invaluable gift itself.