Spencer Foundation dissertation fellowship application

I just applied for the Spencer dissertation fellowship this morning!  It took a bit of writing and several revisions.

It strikes me as odd that there are probably several students who are applying from UW’s College of Ed this year, yet we haven’t talked to each other.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know about the others and form a support/reading group?  I’ll suggest that to ASCE (Associated Students of the College of Ed) for next year.

In line with this desire for more transparency,  below is my abstract (200 word limit), and I posted the personal statement (400 word limit) I used on my About page.  I’ve also uploaded the full 10 page proposal of my dissertation in PDF (10 pages is difficult!).  Some of my best writing I think, but it seems so unfinished…

Players of massively multiplayer online games have to master a meta-game of learning the social norms of their sub-culture and achieving a certain level of social mobility in order to complete game goals.  Certain players navigate this social networking meta-game with much more ease than others.  How a particular player learns to participate in the community’s practices is bound up in layers of socio-political dynamics that originate from both in and out-of-game contexts.  The role of educators is to help people understand and critique their social world.  Yet online games culture is at a critical point where inequalities of everyday offline life will continue to be the norm in online life.  Thus it is extremely important to look at the ways in which players come to understand their social contexts while learning to participate and work collaboratively.  I document through ethnographic means how two groups of World of Warcraft players learned to work on common in-game goals.  They did this through various online communication tools that were mediated by a shared understanding of the game artifact and the socially constructed roles they each played.

3 thoughts on “Spencer Foundation dissertation fellowship application”

  1. Yay for more transparency!

    So you’ve stumbled upon something interesting, which is that frequently academics don’t talk to each other for two reasons:
    1.) We don’t listen all that well frequently, so don’t know that there are others around us who we could collaborate with for better outcomes.
    2.) We mistake making others work better for making ourselves less competitive. If we were to collaborate, then your proposal would be better and I would be less likely to get it.

    While I have some sympathy for the fear found in number two, the honest truth is that frequently isn’t going to be the case. Most funding agencies, jobs, journals, or anywhere else that we’re going to be “competing” with one another are looking for specific things. In the long term collaboration and transparency are far better. Your colleagues aren’t going to steal your work, they’ve been pursuing another project for years, and changing directions is difficult and time consuming.


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