Sample Abstracts

Sample Student Abstracts
Reprinted from Previous Conference Programs

Abstracts for Ten-Minute Oral Presentations
Reprinted from Previous Conference Programs

Sexual Differentiation Underlying Philosophical Underpinnings
Presenter: Marisa Markowitz; Advisor: Dorothy Rogers
"Philosophy”; literally translated as lover of wisdom; typifies the study of precise and analytical examination of issues pertaining to the human condition; experience;and moral development; an endeavor that which aims to unearth the truths and falsities of daily existence in order to discover a deeper meaning than originally expected. Unfortunately; philosophy as a discourse has been primarily a male-domain; and this research project examines the pervasive imagery of women as “passive” in reproduction and in the private realm; whereas men are “active” during reproduction and in public sphere. Aristotle and Hegel develop this distinction within their works; and a feminist investigation; using the works of Simone de Beauvoir and other feminist philosophers; reveals a strong male bias that perhaps discouraged women from contributing to philosophy. Understanding that female philosophers did exist since the time of Aristotle and were relatively silent reflects the conclusion that male philosophers; and in general patriarchal society; had a strong influence in determining and underestimating women’s roles in society and specifically in philosophical cannon.

Edible Skylines
Presenter: Dawn Diamond; Advisor: Elaine Gerber
Current and plentiful scientific studies tell us that food is our best medicine and that locally-grown organic is our best food source. Food cooperatives and urban sustenance gardens; both at the street level and at the rooftop level; have the potential to provide a portion of these foods. At the same time the gardens have the added benefit of reducing the temperature of cities and suburban surroundings; a counter effect on global warming and the rising costs of operating HVAC systems. The principle objective of this individual paper is to explore the feasibility for corporations and property owners in the City of Newark; New Jersey to philosophically; socially; and financially support the development of food cooperatives and local sustenance gardens. The short term goal is to create a research design that is replicable for use in other mid-size cities on the feasibility of urban rooftop gardens as viable healthy food channels. The long term goal; based on the results of research; may be to establish these channels for local organic produce supply to Newark residents at an affordable price or exchange. This article sketches the backdrop of health care; food security; and economy in the United States and specifically the State of New Jersey; as well as a brief history and current political/socioeconomic picture for the City of Newark. It highlights the expanse of research available on the topics of urban gardening and green roofs and the potential to carry this research over into the feasibility of roof top sustenance gardens or “green” roofs yielding vegetables and herbs.

Transforming the Identity: Zoraida in the Captive's Tales
Presenter: Christine Pettus; Advisor: Linda Gould Levine
The focus of my investigation is taken from the episode called the “Captive’s Tale” in the first part of Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes. Through close reading of the text, researching contemporary literary criticism, and the study of Spanish history, I examine in depth the character of Zoraida. Zoraida is a Moorish woman who has converted to Christianity and come to Spain. She arrives and travels through Spain dressed in distinctly Moorish garb without the ability to speak Spanish. The timing of her arrival is after centuries of tensions and violence between Moors and Christians and about a decade before the Moors are forcibly expelled from Spain. I show how the recently freed Spanish captive that accompanies her successfully transforms the identity of the Moorish woman so that she can be accepted by the fictional audience at the inn where she has arrived. There is a great emphasis in Cervantes’s Don Quijote on the transformation of the identity. But while Don Quijote’s attempts to transform himself lead only to insults, violence, and ultimately to his downfall, Cervantes opens a space of acceptance for Zoraida through the captive’s narrative. My investigation also examines the possible motives for Cervantes’ choice to award acceptance
to this character.

Ethical Implications of Legal Prohibition on Organ Purchase
Presenter: Shari Genser; Advisor: Marilyn Tayler
This research examines the current United States organ procurement system and tests the hypothesis that the creation of a legal system for the sale of body organs would allow for a medically ethical environment concerning organ transplants. The legal prohibition on organ purchases requires analysis through the interdisciplinary foci of medical ethics and the law because neither discipline alone can fully address this issue. The contrasting application of the legal and ethical principles of human well being; personal autonomy and equality is examined in this interdisciplinary analysis. This research presents and explores the National Organ Transplantation Act; which explicitly prohibits the purchase of organs. A model for a legalized system for the sale of body organs is presented in order to demonstrate the feasibility of legal; ethical organ purchases. Since current legislation prohibits organ purchases; the appropriate path to pursue is nationwide education on transplantation and the critical shortage of transplantable organs. Financial incentives for organ donation will not be accepted by the moral majority until they are educated about the shortcomings of our current altruistic system. This research concludes that the legalized trade of body organs would help to solve the national organ shortage.

Opium Production as a Non-Traditional Security Issue
Presenter: Steven Galante; Advisor: Elizabeth Wishnick
According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC); the opium situation in the southern provinces of Afghanistan is "out of control." In 2006 alone; opium production in Afghanistan increased over 162 percent. My paper will analyze opium production in Afghanistan with respect to its role as a non-traditional security issue and its effects in Afghanistan and abroad. I will discuss the decentralized method of opium production and its contributions to security issues; both regional and worldwide. Opium production negatively affect the health; stability and humans securty of the Afghan state as well as contributes to criminal elements in other countries; and terrorist cells worldwide. In 2007; Afghan opium accounts for 93 percent of the opiates available on the world market. The export value is around $4 billion dollars which is distributed among the opium farmers; corrupt political figures; regional warlords; terrorists and drug traffickers. There have been crop eradication efforts by the Afghan government and coalition forces present in Afghanistan; but opium production has doubled in just two years. This shows that eradication efforts have proven ineffective. In my paper; I will be drawing from sources such as the
United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime; books written by those who witnessed opium production and trade first hand; and news articles and academic journals chronicling different aspects of Afghan opium production.

Coming Out of the Boudoir: Gays in the Francophonie             
Presenter: James Doughty; Advisor: Elizabeth Emery
The purpose of this research was to study three things in the Francophonie; or French speaking world: the status of gay rights; whether any cross-cultural connections between the regions studied in these rights existed; and the influence of religion in the regions studied.  Though the Francophonie consists of countries all over the world; the three regions studied and compared were: France; Canada and North Africa.  The choice to limit the Francophonie was the author’s due to two major factors: the availability of information regarding the subject as well as the overwhelmingly large influence these regions have on the Francophonie itself.  The research itself was a combination of primary and secondary sources either depicting the historical events of the gay rights movements in these regions from a first person point of view; or in the case of religion and homosexuality; particularly in the Islamic context; secondary sources which were studies of translated texts; were used.  The status of gays in Canada and France are relatively positive with a few more strides to be made versus North Africa where; from a Western point of view; there are still strides to be made.  Furthermore; the cross cultural connections were not surprising; with Canada and France sharing a common history in regards to the gay rights movement versus North Africa having its own path.  Finally; religion’s influence varies amongst the West and North Africa; with France and Canada having little religious influence and North Africa having a significant influence.

Gaius Marius Archetype of an Emperor        
Presenter: Matt O'Connor; Timothy Renner 
The purpose of this study is to show the effect that Gaius Marius had on Roman history in transitioning the Roman Republic into the Empire. While many scholars argue that the collapse of the Republic and the formation of the Empire occurred late in the first century BC under the regimes of Julius Caesar and Octavian; critical steps were taken in this direction much earlier. Many of the stages of this process were initiated by the actions of Gaius Marius or influenced by them. Marius is credited with a reformation of the army that involved standardizing the way it was recruited and how arms and rank were assigned. Abolishing the property and wealth qualifications for the army had a tremendous effect on the continually widening gap between the rich and the poor; since men who had lost any source of income now had a full time job for the rest of their lives with a pension. Marius also defeated a major invasion of barbarians that threatened Romans at this time and was named the third founder of Rome. Further; Marius held the supreme command in Rome; the consulship; for seven terms; this feat was never to be matched; not even my many of the emperors.  Marius had such a loyal following among his troops and the people that it is easy to see why he was able to gain this unprecedented power. Ultimately; he shifted the allegiance from the state to an individual and became drunk with power; a practice that many of the politicians following him would mimic; including his nephew Julius Caesar. This research utilizes primary sources; especially Roman historians including Sallust; Plutarch and Appian; and responds to modern commentaries by the authors of the Cambridge Ancient History and by Roman history scholars Phillip Kildahl and T.J. Luce. This research shows that Gaius Marius played a critical role in the development of the Roman state and should not be ignored as one of the key reasons for the transition from the Republic to the Empire.

Abstracts for Poster Sessions

The Old Testament's influence on the United States Constitution
Presenter: Joel Concannon; Advisor: MarilynTayler
This research tests the hypothesis that the Old Testament of the Bible influenced the framers in drafting the Constitution. It is necessary to approach this issue using interdisciplinary methods to develop a full understanding, because the issue cannot be adequately examined through one disciplinary lens. Therefore, three lenses are employed: Religion, namely Biblical Studies and Old Testament Theology, Political Science, namely Modern Political Philosophy, and Law, namely Constitutional Law. The research methodology entails examining the Constitution’s content, influences and interpretation. To do this, it is necessary to examine, simultaneously, disciplinary concepts such as original intent, the Constitutional Convention, United States Supreme Court cases, modern political philosophy and Christianity in the 1700s. By analyzing the framers’ personal influences and intentions in light of those disciplinary concepts, the conclusion that the Old Testament affected the Constitution is a sustainable one. The poster for the Student Research Symposium will entail particular parts of the Constitution and how the original intent was religiously inspired.

Transfer of Property Rights: Finding the "Public Good" in Eminent Domain
Presenter: Christine Aramini; Advisors: Avram B. Segall and Marilyn Tayler
This research tests the hypothesis that current law regarding eminent domain transfers property rights to private enterprise without consideration of the "public good."  It is necessary to approach this issue using interdisciplinary methods to develop a full understanding, because this issue cannot be adequately examined through one disciplinary perspective.  The method of research employed is to examine the issue of eminent domain through two disciplinary lenses: Law and Political Science with Political Sociology as a sub-discipline.  The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution holds that "[no person shall] be deprived of life liberty, or property; without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."  An individual's right to property is one of the fundamental rights on which this nation was built.  Nevertheless, in 2005 the United States Supreme Court found in the case Kelo v. New London that "public use," includes private economic development.  Since Kelo v. New London has broadened the term "public good" this has been used to the advantage of private enterprise.  By comparing and contrasting different aspects of cases since the ruling, this research concludes that the "public good" is not being protected and current law allows for the abuse of property rights.

Uncle Tom's Cabin as a Challenge to Slave Law
Presenter: Andrea  KhanAdvisors:  Marilyn Tayler and  Avram B. Segall             
The purpose of this research is to explore the hypothesis that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin influenced change in the law with regard to slavery in pre- to post- Civil War America. As this issue reaches beyond the scope of a single discipline; adequate exploration requires an interdisciplinary approach. In order to explore this issue; two disciplines have been used: law; particularly slave law; and literature; particularly the nineteenth-century American novel.  The manner in which the pre-Civil War American law regarded slavery is considered; as demonstrated in such touchstone cases as the Dred Scott decision and in legislative acts like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It is found that disagreement over slavery between the Northern and Southern states led to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. The war; which began just eight years after the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; is identified as a major factor in the abolition of slavery. Both a scholarly and a critical approach are used in the exploration Stowe’s novel to identify why and how the novel may have been written and how it may have served as one of many catalysts of the war. Interdisciplinary research indicates that Uncle Tom’s Cabin may have influenced American public attitude toward slavery to such an extent as to have contributed to the eruption of the Civil War; and thus affected the American law regarding slavery.

Relationship of Empathy and Attitudes towards Animal Rights among Montclair State University Students
Presenter: Michelle Newton Advisor: Janet Ruane
This study seeks to determine the relationship between the capacity for empathy and attitudes towards animal rights. Surveys containing abridged versions of the Animal Attitudes Scale and Multi-Dimensional Emotional Empathy Scale were distributed to a sample of Montclair State University students. A significant positive correlation was found between the capacity for empathy and positive attitudes towards animal rights. Additionally, gender was found to influence both variables, as females yielded greater capacities for empathy and more positive animal rights attitudes than did males. This study also sought to test for the effects of socialization on animal rights attitudes. These findings may be of interest to those who seek to further explore the relationship between humans and non-humans. The use of a convenience sample weakens the study’s external validity.

Law and Literature
Presenter: Alex Taub; Advisors: Marilyn Tayler and Avram B. Segall
This interdisciplinary research paper addresses the manner in which the discipline of literary analysis has been utilized in combination with more traditional legal studies in order to accommodate the changing needs of legal education.  The impact of the legal profession on the United States has continued to expand over the years as have the many aspects of society in which it plays an important role.  The number of students pursuing a law degree has increased as well, creating demand for some 200 law schools by 2008 which serve a more diverse student population.  At the same time, there has been growing recognition that the skills required for success in a legal career go well beyond the traditional core skills, such as legal reasoning, legal research and legal analysis, and include such additional skills as effective communication, relationship-building, organization and management, and the recognition and resolution of ethical dilemmas.  In addition, greater focus on diversity among both law students and the population at large has resulted in more attention being paid to the societal context of the way in which the law is created and the way it is applied.  All of this has led to a trend towards supplementing the traditional case/socratic methodology, which has been the fundamental approach used in legal education since 1870, with other disciplines among which literary analysis has been particularly popular.  The research demonstrates the increasing popularity of Law and Literature programs, as well as their effectiveness in meeting the broader requirements of legal education, while also indicating some issues and questions that remain regarding their most appropriate form and role in the future.