History students present at the 2024 University Undergraduate Awards Forum

By: Patti McDonald 

History students presented their research along with hundreds of other students at the 2024 Undergraduate University Research Awards Forum (UURAF), held at the Breslin Center on April 12th.  

Kara Hung, a history and social studies education major, presented her paper, “Asia in the World History Textbook.” She said she was inspired to conduct this research because she was interested in how Asia is depicted in United States and world history textbooks. She said that, as a student of Asian descent, she’s noticed discrepancies and variations on how Asian history is taught in textbooks throughout the world.  

While conducting research for this project, Hung said she noticed a theme throughout U.S. and world history textbooks: government influence on how Asian history is taught. 

“It’s fascinating because this is not only a problem in the U.S, but in other countries in the world where there is the same type of government influence where there is a certain type of perspective they want to promote to the students learning and it is important to realize what kind of impact that has on the rest of the world as the textbook narrative changes over time.” 

“I have noticed disparities in U.S. and world history textbooks on how Asian history is taught and presented,” Hung said. “Because of this, I think it is so crucial to question what you are learning and challenge what is taught in history textbooks, because the way you learn history could have implications on your future perception of the rest of the world.” 

Hung said she recommends that other undergrads participate in events like UURAF, as this event gives students the opportunity to strengthen their research skills while engaging with an audience and their fellow students’ research, too. 

“MSU is a research university and I think conducting and presenting your own research as an undergraduate student is so beneficial. Events like UURAF give students an opportunity to have their work objectively observed by their fellow students and they can engage with these different perspectives and feedback from event participants and attendees.”  

Senior Kaya Wilske also presented her paper, “For the Sake of (her) Pleasure: The Sexual Influences in Witchcraft Convictions From 1630-1650’s New England,” where, through the lens of witchcraft, she explored how women in Early America were defined.  

Wilske’s research focuses on social and gender theories and explores whether witchcraft fits into them. 

“A lot of what was done in early America is essentially a foundation of our society today, so by understanding the history of witchcraft convictions and treatment of women, the better we can understand how women are treated today,” she explained.  

Wilske, who is graduating in the spring, has presented her research at numerous events as an undergrad. She said that presenting her research gives her an extra level of confidence as she prepares to attend graduate school in the fall.  

“Attending conferences and events like UURAF looks great on a resume. It shows initiative and demonstrates that a student has conducted and presented their research before, a skill I am glad I learned as I will be attending graduate school at the University of Maryland in the fall.”