Signature Programs
Bowden Fellowships in the Humanities

Bowden fellows share their projects during gallery night

Ransom Everglades’ seventh class of Dan Leslie Bowden Fellows in the Humanities shared their summer research projects during the Bowden Fellows Gallery Night on Dec. 4, presenting summaries of their work at the Lewis Family Auditorium before heading to the Solomon Art Gallery for more interactive and in-depth presentations. The evening represented the culmination of educational journeys that began last summer, when the fellows – Christine Keedy Brown '24, Emma Dvorkin '24, Daniela Gardiner '24, Trinity Haisch '24, Camille Lugo '24, Skye McPhillips '24, Elisa Sotero '24, Julia Torto '24, Jude Yeo '24 and Mike Zoi '24 used the support from their Dan Leslie Bowden Fellowships to explore various topics. Photo Gallery
Associate Head of School John A. King Jr., the director of the fellowship program, introduced the fellows and thanked Jeffrey Miller '79 for the founding grant that created the Dan Leslie Bowden Endowment in the Humanities in 2016. King described Dan Leslie Bowden, the former English teacher who spent 63 years at Ransom Everglades before his death in 2018, as "one of Ransom Everglades' most iconic figures" whose "unabashed love of language and literature ... provided the humanities intellectual foundation for generations at RE."

Miller, a former student of the legendary educator Dan Bowden, attended the event with Bowden's great nephew Thomas Bowden.

This year's Bowden fellows undertook projects that required travel to South Africa, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and various cities in the United States, conducting interviews, engaging in field research and seeking out primary sources. They compiled their work in video format, research papers, blogs and web pages and presented much of that work through the exhibition in the Solomon Art Gallery.

Here's a look at their work:

Bridging Humanities and STEM: Learning to Code Through Music
Christine Keedy Brown '24

I explored the use of music to improve the learning of young users on how to code. Music is one of the most “human” subjects and bridges the STEM field of programming. This has powerful implications; it allows people of diverse backgrounds and from under-resourced areas with little computer science experience to learn coding and makes it engaging to them. My objectives were to become thoroughly versed in this emerging field. I sought out innovators of music programming such as Northwestern’s TIDAL lab, as well as the Center for Music Technology at Georgia Tech, to interview faculty and graduate students in such programs. I have been working collaboratively with Tucker Elementary to initiate a series of workshops to apply the principles discussed in a classroom environment. My methodology included recruiting workshop series participants, including others to help me in teaching the children and teaching of the workshop. I am producing a short-form documentary of the entire project. I am producing a blog chronicling the project and uploading original participant musical compositions that illustrated different coding concepts.

The Quest for Knowledge: An Exploration of the Impact of Local Journalism on Communities
Emma Dvorkin '24
Initially, my project was an exploration of “news deserts,” or a county that lacks a central newspaper entirely. But, through further reading I became more interested in counties that had only one newspaper. I felt that the stories of these outlets seemed to be less understood. What was their story? What was their motivation? I came up with questions that helped me better understand these newspapers’ production, distribution, and overall impact on their community. I called over 20 newspapers in Florida, many never answered, some picked up but never had a ton of time, but I was still able to get some meaningful conversations that were invaluable to my research. I really began to understand how much small town newspapers have to grapple with on a daily basis, and this further fueled my interest in highlighting the local heroes that are committed to bringing their communities democracy through local journalism. My end goal is to produce a longform feature story and accompanying op-ed that sums up my collection of stories and findings throughout my research process.

Soviet Jewish Diaspora in NYC: Acculturation Dynamics of the Fourth Wave
Daniela Gardiner '24

My Bowden Fellowship project focuses on understanding the extent to which fourth wave Soviet Jews, those who immigrated immediately before, during, and after the fall of the USSR in 1991, have acculturated in New York City religiously, socially, and generationally.  I specifically investigate the circumstances that formed the group as a whole and, specifically, the distinctions between waves, especially the fourth wave. My research has been conducted both in person and virtually, and I collected a myriad of artifacts (including books, posters, etc.), voice memos (from interviews), and connections to both Jewish and non-Jewish scholars, archivists, rabbis, and others. My data illustrates a great spectrum in which fourth wave soviet Jews have adapted in Brooklyn. By comparing the acculturation patterns of these fourth-wave Soviet Jews with their predecessors and American counterparts, my study aims to illuminate their adaptation experiences as a multifaceted group in the most densely populated city of Jewish people in the world, ultimately contributing to our collective understanding of human identity and what it means to be human within the context of immigration and cultural transformation of fourth wave Soviet Jews and their descendants.

The Culture of Youth Sexuality
Trinity Haisch '24

My project focuses on understanding the historical context of queer stigmatization and how it affects the culture of youth sexuality. I explored the concept of reproductive futurism and its presence in past American political events such as the Lavender Scare, the Briggs Initiative, and Anita Bryant's campaigns. I delved into a theoretical evaluation of the relationship between queerness and the concept of the "Child" as constructed in reproductive futurism. I researched queer youth in American schools, particularly in Florida high schools, and how concepts such as heteronormativity, masculinity, and inadequate sexual education contribute to prejudice against queer students. I went beyond news headlines and thoroughly researched Florida bills like HB 1557, HB 1069, and HB 1521. I believe the absence of comprehensive queer education in schools fosters queer prejudice in many individuals, as people can only learn what they are taught. Providing well-structured education, distinct from news outlets, can dispel harmful misconceptions about subjects people may not fully understand. Educating the population on the systems that marginalize queerness and subsequently deconstructing those systems starts with children still in schools. Everyone should have the right to embrace their identity with pride.

Artificial Intelligence in the Art World
Camille Lugo '24
In my project, I explore the topic of artificial intelligence and investigate how it impacts the creative industry. To gain a deeper understanding of AI’s creative potential, I experimented with several different art generators, such as Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion. These experiences allowed me to better understand the process behind creating AI art. I read essays and articles, and watched videos to inform myself. I also conducted interviews with artists, museum curators, and AI experts to collect different perspectives on the subject. I encountered a wide range of opinions and debates surrounding AI's impact on creativity. My project’s overarching question revolves around determining whether or not AI can create “real” and authentic art just like traditional human artists. Some people support AI's potential to revolutionize art while others express concerns about the potential loss of human touch and emotion in AI-generated creations. Through my project, I hope to inform the RE community and give them a space to form their own opinions on the topic.

Finding Creativity in Work
Skye McPhillips '24
My Bowden Fellowship project examined the creativity of cigar rolling. I went to Tabacalera La Alianza, a cigar factory located in la zona franca of Santiago, Dominican Republic. At the factory, I conducted around 80 surveys and 30 interviews of tabaqueros, cigar rollers, to discover the factors that influence the flow state of creativity. These factors include money, community, manual labor, and passion. The data collection of this project involved crafting the survey and questions, creating visualizations of the data with Tableau, and translating recordings in Spanish into English text using AI. Within this work, I also explored the relationship between work and creativity- discovering how a specific work environment leads to fulfillment. This project demonstrates the importance of creativity within the workplace and more generally, the ways that creativity enriches the human experience.

Today’s Chinese Cubans: Fighting to Keep their Cultural Identity Alive 
Elisa Sotero '24
My Bowden Fellowship stems directly from my own deep desire to better know my heritage, and address unanswered questions from my family’s past. I always have been curious about why as Chinese-Cubans, my family has never celebrated or kept any Chinese traditions. This summer, I traveled to Havana, Cuba and conducted a dozen interviews with residents of Havana’s Barrio Chino, the Chinese district of the city. I wanted to be able to understand how the Chinese Cubans have maintained their own distinct cultural identity over the last two decades. One of the main ideas that emerged from the interviews was that Chinese funeral customs and martial arts academies are what have allowed these small Chinese communities to thrive.  By the end of my project, I better understood what influences humans to keep or lose some of their group’s culture and adopt certain aspects of another culture to form their own distinct cultural identity. I am producing a research paper that aims to answer this question: How have the Chinese, who arrived 150 years ago to Cuba, adapted to life on the island and maintained their own distinct cultural identity over the last two decades?

Finding the Value of Education: An Examination of Kliptown, South Africa
Julia Torto '24
My project is centered around the emphasis of education in underprivileged communities. I used the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP), an after-school program in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a case study and interviewed 15 women (students, educators, and administrators) as well as the founder of the program, Thulani Madondo, and one of his co-founders, Thando Benanza. Through the interviews, I confirmed what my prior research had pointed me to, that these young women were at an immense disadvantage in their community because of their poor public schooling and the social challenges they face daily, such as drug and sexual abuse. I realized that the young women had a passion for learning, and wanted to rise out of their situations. They looked up to their female counterparts that had been able to go to university and now worked corporate jobs. I discovered how important education is to empowering young women from disadvantaged communities and how programs like KYP greatly assist them. This project has not only shed light on the significance of education in underprivileged communities but has also deepened my understanding of what it means to be human, as it underscores our innate resilience, determination, and aspiration to transcend adversity through the power of knowledge and opportunity.
The Effect of Place on the Creation of Identity in Third Culture Kids
Jude Yeo '24
My Bowden Fellowship research aims to examine the effect of physical setting in creating identity in Third Culture Kids (TCK’s). To start, this summer, I had the opportunity to interview six individuals of various backgrounds and ages who grew up in countries outside of their birth and of their parent’s. In addition to this, I conducted extensive research on the creation of identity in individuals of “normal” upbringing, as well as that of TCK’s. I am creating a website that will include information about what a TCK is, interviewees responses to questions, both in audio and textual format, and research conclusions. I learned that the formation of Identity has large connection to place, though how it is formed differs from person to person. Identity is the ultimate example of what makes us human, not just separating us from other species, but separating us from one another, ensuring that not one individual is alike.

An Alternative Examination of the Armenian Genocide: The "Human” in Human Trafficking
Mikey Zoi '24
Growing up amidst stories of authoritarian regimes and a particular genocide that is often misunderstood and overlooked, my Bowden Fellowship aims to decipher the systems and conditions in place that allowed for human trafficking rings to flourish throughout the Armenian Genocide. After conducting months of ethnographic and historical research, the bulk of my project’s data was collected on summer visit to the National Armenian Heritage Museum in Watertown (MA). Following several interviews with experts and a thorough exploration of Genocide-related exhibits, I began composing my fellowship’s final product: a research paper that focuses on historical analysis and future policy recommendations. Ultimately, to be human is to seek understanding and compassion, even in the face of profound atrocities, by unraveling the complex motivations and circumstances that drive such acts against our shared humanity.

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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.