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The Student News Site of Cranford High School


The Student News Site of Cranford High School



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Academic Research Seminar (Uni Sem), Explained

A rather esoteric class, and often the recipient of pitiful remarks, “Uni Sem,” or Academic Research Seminar, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, has long been one of the most mysterious classes in CHS, with many students remaining unacquainted with the class’ inner workings. However, this all changes when Uni Sem students give their presentations at the end of the year, a marker of their progress, a beacon of their research, and a demonstration of their newfound niche intelligence. 


Before these presentations, however, the students in the class must embark on a rather auto-didactic, year-long journey through a research topic of their choice. This includes, or more accurately mandates, extensive writing about their topics and synthesizing a multitude of scholarly sources into various papers before the final one: an oft-30-page paper about their specialization, discussing their findings and proving its worth to its respective industry and the world as a whole. 


One of these topics is the modern prison-industrial complex, or as Elizabeth Bergen titles it, “Convict or Captive: The Lasting Impacts of the Prison Industrial Complex,” which explores the rampant privatization of prisons in the United States and the tragically omnipresent effect it has on the incarcerated and their families. The presentation will also compare and contrast the U.S.’ model with foreign models, perhaps calling for domestic change. 


Secondly, Dylan Falk’s project, titled “Read Books and Repeat Quotations: Romantics, Symbolists, and Beats in the Songs of Bob Dylan and The Doors” explores the radical changes rock music underwent in the 1960s and 70s, from the typical love music of The Beatles and Elvis to the social commentary and psychedelia of Bob Dylan and The Doors, all while determining what it is that caused this “lyrical revolution,” and why it is important to study. 


Abigail Kelly’s “WIMPs and Dark Matter: The Particle Composition of Dark Matter’s Impact on the Universe” will cover perhaps the most expansive topic this class has ever seen: dark matter’s role in space. While vast in nature and entirely theoretical, Abby will succinctly condense a universal topic into a facile discussion of the inner workings of our greatest mystery. 


“Go With the Flow: The Psychological Repercussions of Immersive Video Game Design,” by Abigail Nam will discuss the psychological aspects of video games, and why games have specially designed user interface systems and quick-time events to foster greater interaction with the game, while utilizing various scientific studies on what is called a “flow state.”  


Cristhian Vilamil’s “19th Century Existentialism through Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche” juxtaposes famed European philosophers Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche’s views on the “basis of morality in European society,” and how that basis is undermined by scientific rationalism. His presentation will explore their differing viewpoints while relying on works like Thus Spoke Zarathrusta and The Brothers Karamazov to establish his thesis.


Lastly, but assuredly not in any order of importance, Sophia Vizzoni discusses what she calls “Film and Fraud: How Hollywood Built Its Foundation on Organized Crime.” This topic will identify the impure roots of Hollywood, calling upon their prevalent connection to organized crime and its consistencies with the believed criminal activity of modern Hollywood. 

Those interested in learning more about Academic Research Seminar should check out Abigail Nam’s documentary about the class titled Academic Research Seminar: The Student as Teacher, which debuted at the Cranford Student Film Festival on January 17th.

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