Oxford Internet Institute
MSc, Social Science of the Internet
The Oxford Internet Institute is a multidisciplinary research center and independent department of the Social Sciences Division at the University of Oxford. It brings together faculty and researchers from across the full range of social sciences and beyond to investigate the social, political, legal, economic, and cultural effects of the internet and other digital technologies.
The twelve-month Master of Science program combines a theoretical, historical, and technical introduction to Internet Studies with an emphasis on rigorous methodological training culminating in a supervised dissertation. Some of my coursework included:
- Theory: Social Dynamics of the Internet; Online Social Networks; Internet Technologies and Regulation; Digital Era Government and Politics; Subversive Technologies
- Methods: Statistics; Data Wrangling; Accessing Research Data from the Social Web; Big Data Analytics; Information Visualization
Coming from a background in political science, at Oxford I narrowed my focus to political communication, specifically the social and cultural dynamics of group identity on social media. Network analysis, which sits within the borderlands of the admittedly artificial theory/methods divide, became a powerful unifying framework for my research. I also learned enough coding and data analytics to amass a large amount of raw data for my thesis, including writing a Python script to crawl and parse raw HTML from the Chinese social platform Weibo.
My thesis, which won high marks, was supervised by Prof. Scott Hale. Using an innovative technique based on networked patterns of news content engagement, I examined the enactment of national and partisan political identity on Twitter and Weibo. Read more about my MSc thesis project here.
University of Mississippi
BA, International Studies and Chinese
The University of Mississippi is host to some excellent academic programs, including the Chinese Language Flagship Program, the Croft Institute for International Studies, and the Sally M. Barksdale Honors College. This trifecta gave me the opportunity to spend multiple summers and semesters studying abroad in China, while also gaining a solid foundation in global history, sociology, political science, and economics.
I spent my senior year writing a thesis on the political economy of Chinese higher education reform, specifically the massive expansion of university enrollments in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This project made extensive use of Mandarin primary and secondary sources, including policy documents, academic articles, official data, and original interviews. My work was recognized with my department’s Terasawa Prize, awarded annually to the best thesis in International Studies.
- Fall 2014: Nanjing University. By this point, my Chinese had reached a point of fluency adequate to take graduate level classes alongside native speakers. I took a semester of direct-enrollment sociology and communications studies coursework as part of my major’s “Capstone Year,” which also included an internship in a fully Chinese work environment. This year was funded by a Boren Scholarship, which supports critical language study in exchange for a one-year service obligation to the federal government.
- Summer 2013: Peking University. I studied comparative political economy (in English) as part of the summer program held at PKU by the London School of Economics. This course helped inform the direction of my senior thesis.
- Spring 2013: Harbin University. This semester of highly intensive language study, held by CET Academic Programs in China’s frigid northernmost province, brought me to a level at which I could comfortably read academic articles and conduct research interviews in Chinese.
- Summer 2012: Shaanxi Normal University. I won a Critical Language Scholarship to spend two months studying in Xi’an.
- Summer 2011: Qingdao University. This summer program operated by the Chinese Language Flagship Program was my first in-person introduction to China. I still have a taste for 海鲜水饺.
- B.A. Summa Cum Laude; Phi Bea Kappa; Phi Kappa Phi
- 2014: NSEP David L. Boren Scholarship to study in Nanjing, China
- 2014: Terasawa Prize for Best Senior Thesis, Croft Institute for International Studies
- 2013: Taylor Medal, the highest university-wide academic honor
- 2012: Critical Language Scholarship, U.S. Department of State
- 2010: Croft Scholarship, full 4-year academic scholarship for international studies majors
Employment & Volunteering
- 2011-14: UM Modern Languages Department. I worked as a Teaching Assistant and language tutor for freshman and sophomore Chinese learners.
- 2011-13: English Language Learners. I volunteered as an ESL teacher and language partner for weekly community-based classes.