Friendship and Diversity: Philosophical and Geographical Considerations

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The following is an excerpt from the article, ‘Social Network,’ in Bucknell Magazine’s summer 2015 issue : It all starts with a question: Where do Bucknell students get their friends, and how does the physical space of the University encourage or discourage diverse friendships among the student body? That question was the starting point of a paper Bucknell Student Melissa Eng ’16 wrote last semester, but answering it fully would involve more than a few weeks of reading and philosophizing. It requires polling the student body about their friendships, and employing sophisticated social network analysis and mapping tools to analyze how physical space and friendship interact at Bucknell. Luckily, Eng now has resources to access those tools, and guidance in implementing her analysis. The project began in Spring 2015 when Prof. Sheila Lintott (Philosophy) met with Janine Glathar & Diane Jackaki from DPS to talk about her research interests related to friendship and diversity. Specifically, Lintott wanted to learn more about how the physical, social and academic environment at Bucknell encouraged or discouraged diversity in students’ friendship networks. After some initial talks with Jackaki and Glathar, Lintott applied for and received a Mellon Summer Research Grant for summer 2015. The purpose of the grant was to explore methods and ideas for how to collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data on diversity in friendship networks. The grant provided a stipend for Lintott and funding for a student researcher, Melissa Eng (Geography/Philosophy, ’16), but also provided consultation time with DPS staffers Diane Jackaki and Janine Glathar. The project team met weekly during the 10 week summer research period, and Jackaki and Glathar scheduled additional work sessions with Eng to provide technical and methodological guidance. One of the key goals for this project was to develop a pilot data collection survey. Eng worked with Jackaki on developing a survey in Qualtrics and with Glathar on developing a data collection interface in ArcGIS Online.



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