Maya, Oberlin College, and Emily, Kenyon College, were research assistants at DIS Stockholm. They worked with faculty Ebba Karlsson on the 3-Credit Research Assistantship, ‘Can Psychological Intervention Decrease Political Polarization?’ This project focused on developing methods to improve civil disagreement in public discourse. We sat down with Maya and Emily to hear about why they chose to do research and what they learned from the experience:
DIS: Why did you decide to pursue research this semester?
Maya L.: I realized it would be a great opportunity to test my research skills in a new setting, outside of my home school, and find new ways to grow and improve as a researcher. I also secretly hoped that I would be able to take some piece of the project with me back to my home school to pursue further – which has turned out, hopefully, to be true!
Emily H: I chose to pursue this research opportunity at DIS because I was interested in challenging myself this semester. I thought that doing research would be a good way to structure my semester because the research would give me something to focus on outside of class. I also thought that the topic of political polarization was extremely relevant in the United States (I did not yet know how relevant it was in Sweden) so I figured it might be useful to conduct research that had the goal of decreasing it. Finally, this research project sounded like a unique opportunity that not many who go abroad have the chance to partake in. I have rarely heard of students conducting research while studying abroad so I decided to seize this opportunity. I believe my resume has benefited greatly from my decision to pursue research at DIS.
DIS: What skills have you gained from this opportunity?
EH: I’ve learned how to take constructive criticism. Because the research group was so small (just me, Maya, and our faculty, Ebba), I was able to receive direct and immediate feedback on all of my work. This fostered a more collaborative work environment and I felt comfortable discussing my own ideas with both Ebba and Maya. Additionally, I have gained valuable time management skills. Since this research assistantship only met once a week, it was up to me to carve out time to complete each task.
DIS: What is your advice for students considering doing research at DIS?
EH: Pick a topic that you are extremely interested in so that you dive head first into it. I would also suggest looking into all the research opportunities DIS has to offer before applying to just one. I had no idea how many other research projects were going on and I wish I had been more aware so that I could have explored all of my options.
ML: Do it! It’s been one of the best parts of my academic experience here. I loved getting to know my research partner and supervisor, and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done. You might never get this opportunity again – if you want it, go for it!