My hope is that, just as the yellow telephone on the front cover, exquisitely photographed by Lauren Foster, has a rich and beckoning quality, as if you must pick it up and hear who is at the other end and enter into a fascinating and meaningful conversation, so too will the student research papers contained within this magazine have the same allure. The Dialogues@RU Magazine, founded by Michael Cripps in 2002, is a wonderful literary journal, right up there with the likes of Granta, only this is non-fiction. But instead of saying what this is not – in other words, it is not fiction – I would like to say what it in fact is, which is that it is a most remarkable collection of outstanding, sophisticated and professional 201 student research papers from students who dedicated a semester of investigation into what truly fascinated them. They probably encountered surprises and maybe even obstacles along the way – the path to true discovery is seldom a straight line – but unafraid of these complexities and willing to enter a dialogue (hence the name of this magazine) on many levels with the authors of the works they read, with their teachers, with their peers, and in their own heads, they made rich and rewarding discoveries, and wrote up their findings in profound and intriguing ways. I believe it is safe to say that each of the students whose work is published here made an outstanding contribution, not only to this magazine, but also within the field of their research, and it is my hope that for many of them, this research is the kernel of what will eventually become a sustained fascination for them and an even deeper enquiry which might be published in journals specific to their discipline.

More than fifty 201 students submitted their paper for consideration to this magazine, and all were of an exemplary standard, so it was a hard task to narrow it down to the nineteen papers that were selected here. But with the splendid help of those on the Dialogues committee – Elizabeth Madden-Zibman, Erica Magnus, Letizia Schmid, and Brook Stanton – whose perceptivity, patience, and preparedness to read mounds of papers throughout this long, hot summer, we were able to make our choice. We read each paper twice, and were able to democratically agree on the papers selected here. The criteria we used were many, and included the fact that the paper:

  • Could serve as a strong research paper model for future 201 students
  • Had convincing content and general intelligence    
  • Demonstrated a depth of research, having used multiple scholarly sources in meaningful and connective ways
  • Was not biased, but had counter-arguments and complexity so that real analysis and interpretation, based on textual evidence, was apparent

Although the papers selected for inclusion were all outstanding, the one which best meets all the above criteria, and for which the student wins an award, is Alissa Aboff, for her exceptional work, “Protecting the Rights of the Intersex Newborn.” Alissa was a student of John Abrams. The other teachers whose students’ work has been chosen for publication include Debbie Borie-Holtz, Brad Farberman, Elizabeth Gardner, John Holliday, Elizabeth Madden-Zibman, Erica Magnus, Jeff Robbins, Letizia Schmid, Joanne Sills, Laura Smith, Brook Stanton, Karen Thompson, and me.

The papers, though emanating from a variety of 201 classes of different topics, are laid out in this magazine according to some main themes and subject areas. The themes we identified are Ethics, Medicine, Science, Music, Food Ethics, Contemporary Social Issues, and Global Concerns. You will see that these papers connect in fascinating ways. We hope you will enjoy reading this magazine, and indeed learn from it, as much as we did, and that you will be similarly impressed with the profound level of research and writing that these students have accomplished.