Friday, April 15, 2011

Academics Not Just in Classes - Derek from Eastern

Prior to my arrival at LCC, I had no idea what the semester would hold.  I could not have predicted that I would be presenting a research project at the 2011 Annual Academic Conference with my economics professor, Dr. Dale Levering.

What brought about such an activity? You might ask.  Well, the path to the academic conference started earlier this semester when my economics class was given the task of determining an area of interest that would later be used to write our own policy briefs.  As I thought over a possible focus, the topic of welfare came to mind.  In my own cultural context of the United States, I often had thought about the welfare system and the many people who are affected by it as both recipients and workers within the field.  After discussing the topic with Dr. Levering, he agreed that the topic is a deeply interesting one and suggested that it could be used for a research project for the academic conference at LCC, which was dealing with the topic of “Volunteerism and Philanthropy: Ideal or Ideology?”  Also, he offered that we could co-author the paper and thus gave me the opportunity to research this topic more deeply.

After a period of research and discussion, we produced a project entitled “Western Social Benefit Systems and Subsidiarity: Degradation versus Dignity.”  This project deals with the development of western welfare systems from a Biblical context to the current system that now exists and the ways in which it has diverged from its original purpose of protection against poverty into a system of provision and entitlement.  In light of this divergence, we discussed the damaging consequences that this system has on the overall dignity of the recipients.  As a solution, we offered the theory of subsidarity, or placing the power at the lowest competent level, thus shifting the current system to a locally-focused one as a method for better serving the needs of individual communities.  Also, volunteerism would play a large part in this new form of welfare that goes beyond the system of transfer payments now in place.  This information is just a small sampling of the complete presentation, but it is enough to familiarize everyone.

In being the main presenter for this project, I felt a little intimidated as I wanted to effectively represent our key points.  Despite my slight intimidation, the presentation seemed to be a success and spawned discussion amongst other students and faculty alike.  In the past, I have attended similar events, but now I have had the opportunity to really be a part of one.  I am grateful to both Dr. Leveling and LCC for giving me this opportunity to be part of such an event.

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