Stephanie Goes to Scotland!

I can't believe it...but I'm going to Edinburgh, Scotland this April to present my doctoral research at the 2014 Child and Teen Consumption Conference (CTC).

What I'll be presenting:

My conference paper "Teaching each other how to survive, live, and thrive: Black early adolescent girls' engagements in consumer practices and peer mentoring in schools and on social media websites" was accepted to be presented on a special panel entitled: Being and becoming consumers at school: North American perspectives on children's "needs" and consumer education, past and present.

I will be presenting my research with Dr. Katharine Rollwagen an Assistant Professor at the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. and Dr. Jane Eva Baxter, a historical archaeologist in the Department of Anthropology at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

My paper discusses the ways that black middle school girls from low-income families in Southwest Baltimore City teach each other to survive, live, and thrive, in face of the economic hardships and domestic responsibilities that they face at home and the social pressures that they face in school and online. (More info below:)

Travel Grants Awarded:
I am so lucky and humbled that I won awards from the University of Maryland Department of American Studies, College of Arts and Humanities, and Graduate School to cover the cost of my hotel and conference fee. 

Funds Still Needed
Unfortunately, I still do not have enough funds to cover the cost of my flight, travel costs, food, and miscellaneous expenses once in Scotland since I will be travelling from April 7- April 14 (an entire week). Also Edinburgh is a bit of an expensive city and the currency exchange rate is almost double that of the US with 1 British Pound = 1.67 US Dollars. The estimated total cost of my other expenses is approx. $2300. I would love to raise as much as possible within the next 2 weeks (approx March 15, but will take donations up until the week I'll be away April 7-14.

I would greatly appreciate you help on this journey! Any donation large or small will greatly help me to fund this trip. Please find more information about my doctoral research, the paper that I am presenting, and the conference below!

- Best Wishes,

The Conference:

The conference theme is "Being, Becoming and Belonging" and will allow academics from different disciplines, practitioners, and policy-makers- working in the areas of: marketing, advertising, media, health, education, food, fashion, literature, and the arts- to examine how children's cognitive, social, cultural, and moral development influence the ways that they come to shape their identities overtime as consumers and affect their well-being and sense of belonging to family, peers, and wider communities, online and offline. 

The conference's organizing body is composed of eight scholars from the University of Edinburgh and nine international scholars from universities in Canada, Denmark, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The CTC Conference was held in 2008 (in Norway), 2010 (in Sweden), and in 2012 (in Italy).

The conference's website is  

My Conference Paper

In addition to what was written above, my conference paper also explores:

-the complex and strategic economic decisions that some girls have to make to: take care of their siblings, help manage their households, while still wanting to engage in youth consumer cultures like fashion, music, technology, and social activities.

-the ways that Participant Action Research (a method of research that works with research participants to identify issues they face and come to solutions as a group) can foster positive peer-mentoring relationships among black middle school girls so that they can collectively share their experiences and discuss multiple possibilities for their roles as young women, students, citizens, consumers, and producers in American society.

Implications and Contributions
My work with black early adolescent girls in a Baltimore City Elementary/Middle School shows convincing evidence that if schools create official times and spaces for girls to share their experiences in a safe environment it can collectively increase the girls' sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and academic achievement.

Why Is It Important That I Present My Paper Abroad?

Presenting my paper at the CTC 2014 is crucial to my career as it will help to place my research in conversation with North American and international scholarship on early adolescent girlhood, the role of schools in producing youth consumer cultures (online and offline), and children's economic responsibilities and consumer desires while living in urban centers under the poverty line.

My Doctoral Research and Passion: A Little Background Information On Why I'm doing this Project:

As many of you know I am a 4th year Ph.D. Student at the University of Maryland College Park. In May of 2015, I will be earning my Ph.D. in American Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies.

In 2010, I partnered with the school that I attended in elementary school to better understand ways that black middle school girls from low-income families in Southwest Baltimore City define their changing identities, desires, struggles, goals, and achievements.

I chose to conduct research at this site, not only because I am an alumna, but because the school is located in a community that is representative of many urban hubs in the North Eastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern regions of the United States.

Between 2010 and 2013, I facilitated over 85 hour-long, focus group sessions and workshops with 55 middle school girls (ages 11-14).

Topics Discussed 
-paths to academic success and college
-self-esteem and positive body image
-healthy familial, peer, romantic, and sexual relationships
-peer pressure
-sexual education
-media literacy
-political activism
-Hip-Hop and Pop music, music videos, and culture
-community service
-the struggles and joys of living in Baltimore

Weekly/Bi-Weekly Workshop Activities 
-watching documentaries
-writing poetry and stories
-Spoken Word
-creating arts & crafts
-creating informational and decorative posters
-freestyle and choreographed dancing and stepping
-dividing into small think-tanks to find solutions to much of the drama that stems from everyday life (at school, online, & at home).

Major Findings:
The focus groups and workshops that I facilitated with the middle school girls gave them an official space during the school day to:

-discuss and solve conflicts amongst each other that arose at school and online
-gain a mutual respect for one another
-learn to feel comfortable sharing pressures that they felt from teachers, peers, romantic/sexual partners, and family members in a safe environment
-teach each other strategies for coping with stress and managing domestic and academic responsibilities
-teach each other about their hobbies, interests, and the way that they make consume and critique popular culture
-Eat great food and HAVE FUN

My Hopes and Dreams for Future Research and Interventions:
I hope that my doctoral research project, can inform school leaders, education policy makers, and parents about the everyday challenges that urban black girls face and realistic methods to improve the quality of their school experiences and chances of success.

I propose that long-term in-school, participant action research programs that focus on ways to improve girl's everyday experiences in school, home, and online be implemented in public schools across America to help early adolescents thrive and smoothly transition into adolescence and adulthood.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!! And Please feel free to share this link with your friends and family. All assistance is greatly appreciated!
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Stephanie Stevenson 
College Park, MD
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