FEMALE ANNOUNCER: This is a production of Cornell University.
BETHANY OJALEHTO: My research is looking at how people create meaning out of the world in their daily lives and also when they think about the ultimate existential questions of their own purpose and how they relate to the rest of the universe. I was very interested in working with child development in refugee situations.
So we wanted to look at this process and youth who are living in a refugee camp, which is located in Kenya. It appears to be the middle of nowhere. But it's not in the middle of nowhere. It's the middle of everywhere for a lot of people.
QI WANG: Children's understanding of their social world has very important implications for their social behavior-- for their own emotional development, for their relationships with their peers. And we know now those skills are very fundamentally important for the success of adults in the adult world.
BETHANY OJALEHTO: I think the research is important because it emphasizes that child development is not this static system of laws, but rather that humans operate in equally positive and meaningful ways around the world. When you actually look at the human individuals in different places, you begin to see how the diversity of approaches to this world are actually really beautiful and impactful.
Human Ecology has prevented this opportunity to develop an individual curriculum. Together with professors, they allow students to pursue independent inquiry, but they provide all the support necessary for that. The ideas that are most interesting to me are the really fundamental, and difficult, and impossible ideas? And it's really good because Human Ecology-- the professors here form this interesting coalition around real ideas.
QI WANG: I think developing research skills can help undergrad students succeed no matter what kind of career path they're going to choose later on-- for example, being dependent; being able to collaborate with others, and teamwork, and work ethics; and perseverance and persistence. So that's why I think it's very important for students-- undergraduate students-- to get involved in research activities.
BETHANY OJALEHTO: Research is so interesting and it adds so much to an undergraduate experience that is not simply an additional element. It really is a different way of approaching what you have learned, and it's a different way of approaching knowledge.
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Bethany Ojalehto and Associate Professor Qi Wang describe research into the effects of refugee status on child development.
In the College of Human Ecology, more than one third of undergraduates conduct research, either independently under the guidance of faculty mentors, or directly on faculty research teams. And the number of students conducting research continues to grow, because Human Ecology is committed to the integration of research methods, principles and outcomes into the delivery of its academic mission.