Philosophy major gets full ride to attend Arizona research conference

Junior philosophy major Margaret Light ’20 was awarded the chance to participate in Arizona State University’s first annual Compass Undergraduate Research Conference—all expenses paid.

The conference is an extension of ASU’s Undergraduate Journal of American Political Ideas, which publishes essays by undergraduates at colleges and universities worldwide on American political issues related to political philosophy, history, literature, and culture.

Margaret Light, center, with other conference attendees from around the U.S.

Themed “The Intellectual Roots of American Ideals,” the one-day conference featured research presentations by conference attendees and a keynote address by Professor Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown Law School.

Light learned of the opportunity from Dr. Joseph Knippenberg, who encouraged her to apply. After a rigorous application process, she was selected to attend the conference, all expenses paid.

Light attended multiple panels, which she found applicable to her own research.

“Several of the presentations were very helpful to me and addressed certain interests of mine such as the importance of ethics within politics,” she said. “These presentations also gave me an idea of how to better my own presentations and make my own research more relevant.”

The conference brought together diverse points of view, giving attendees a chance to learn from each other.

“Despite vehemently disagreeing with [National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis’] political views, I found her advice on writing about controversial topics particularly engaging. I was able to speak with her more about her work after her presentation, and she genuinely helped me to better understand how to handle controversy, especially when sharing your opinion is controversial,” she said.

Light says she also enjoyed the Q&A sessions, which at times became “contentious”, as well as meeting students from other universities.

“The discussions I had with these students outside of the lectures were so encouraging! It was an amazing opportunity to learn, and I made so many important connections,” she said.

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