The School of Journalism and Communication hosted the 2022-23 Honours Research Essay (HRE) Showcase on Friday, April 21st in the Readers Digest Resource Centre at Richcraft Hall. This annual event celebrates the achievements of undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies who complete an HRE as part of their degree requirements.

The honours research essay attracts students with strong academic qualifications who are interested in completing intensive independent research on a topic of their choosing. The paper itself is a 60-page essay that has the look and feel of a master’s thesis and often serves as a “test run” for students interested in pursuing graduate studies.

“The HRE is a major piece of student scholarship,” says Josh Greenberg, Director of the School of Journalism and Communication. “Students work closely with a faculty member to identify a topic they wish to explore, and then spend several months on research and writing. It’s a substantial academic undertaking and a huge accomplishment.”

Three students in the B.CoMS program completed an HRE this year:

Sydney Powell-Goldsmith’s essay, “TikTok’s Impact on Fashion Trend Cycles,” examined celebrity culture and the House of Sunny Hockney dress as a case study of how social media platforms shape the rise and fall of fashion trends.  The study draws on Thorstein Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption and applies Laver’s Law of trend cycles to examine intersections of social media content production, promotional culture, and the environmental consequences of fast fashion.

Sydney Powell-Goldsmith presents her B.CoMS honours thesis

Yasmine Siddiqui explored COVID-19 and youth vaccine communication campaigns in her essay, “To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: Canadian Public Health Messaging Toward Vaccinating Youth Aged 12-17 Against COVID-19.” Analyzing social media campaigns by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Ottawa Public Health, the study asked to what extent health agencies identified youth as a unique demographic for vaccine messaging and whether they developed segmented messaging that took into consideration the social determinants of health for young people.

Yasmine Siddiqui presents her B.CoMS honours thesis

Skylar Allsopp’s essay, “Of Performativity and Pioneers,” provides a feminist analysis of one of the Food Network’s most popular reality television programs, The Pioneer Woman. Examining key episodes of the program, Allsopp’s study provides a critical account of some of the show’s dominant narratives and mythologies of gender and national identity, while also acknowledging the important role the show plays in providing its audience with comfort, entertainment and community.

Skylar Allsopp presents her B.CoMS honours thesis

Dr. Irena Knezevic supervised Allsopp’s project, which she says, “produced fascinating findings and observations about how gender is performed in television programming aimed at women.” Knezevic says she was “particularly impressed with how Skylar was able to critique The Pioneer Woman while also recognizing the value that the show offers to its viewers.” Allsopp’s attention to the metaphors of the frontier and football, as symbols of American national identity, “took the study beyond traditional feminist research,” Knezevic says. “I’m very excited to see how Skylar expands on her research in the future.”

Skylar Allsopp with her HRE supervisor, Dr. Irena Knezevic

Siddiqui’s research was supervised by Dr. Josh Greenberg. In his remarks at the HRE showcase, Greenberg says Siddiqui showed, “an exceptional ability to synthesize her own research findings in relation to broad, interdisciplinary scholarship on health risk communication.” Particularly noteworthy, he says, was “how Yasmine’s study combined media analysis with the rigour of interview research.” He noted that it is quite “rare” for undergraduate students to conduct interviews as part of their HRE and commended Siddiqui for navigating this complex but important process.

Yasmine Siddiqui with her HRE supervisor, Dr. Josh Greenberg

Powell-Goldsmith’s supervisor was Dr. Emily Hiltz who noted how, “Sydney effectively combined her academic knowledge of consumption and communication with her own rich experience as a TikTok creator and user.” Especially impressive, Hiltz says, was how Powell-Goldsmith challenged herself to learn new concepts and skills, such as visual and semiotic analysis, and how her research pointed to important connections between media studies and environmental studies. “While Sydney’s essay presents a detailed account of four exemplary moments in a particular fashion trend, a central element of her critique was the detrimental impact that fast fashion cycles have on the environment,” Hiltz says.

Sydney Powell-Goldsmith with her HRE supervisor, Dr. Emily Hiltz

HRE students Skylar Allsopp (L), Yasmine Siddiqui (M), and Sydney Powell-Goldsmith (R)

All three students will continue their studies at the graduate level next year. Powell-Goldsmith is off to Trinity College in Dublin for an M.Sc. in Marketing, Siddiqui will attend Carleton’s MA program in International Affairs to explore her interest in foreign policy and diplomacy, and Allsopp will begin the MA Communication program at Simon Fraser University in September.

The COMS program is excited to see these scholars continue to make important contributions to their fields and wishes them continued success.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023 in ,
Share: Twitter, Facebook