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‘Proud Papers Project’ initiative sparks collaborative learning

January 31, 2020

If you’ve ever wondered what your peers are churning out during late nights in the library or hours in Smith Union, you’re not alone. Whether it’s an interpretation of Chaucer or the results of a psychology experiment, Bowdoin students are constantly at work. However, students rarely get to share the excitement of new research with their peers, a fact that Kyle Putnam ’22 hopes to change with the new initiative “Proud Papers Project.”

At the end of last semester Putnam launched the project in the form of a Google Drive folder where students can submit any paper that they are proud of and want to share with the rest of campus.

Putnam started the project after having conversations with others about various papers and realizing they never had the opportunity to get to read each other’s work.

“I was sitting in the common room of Winthrop meeting first-year students, and [I] just asked them what they’ve been up to. And everyone always has really interesting papers … and I’m just like, ‘I want to read all of these cool things that people are telling me about,’” Putnam said.

Since the project’s initial launch, 12 pieces have been added to the folder. Students can submit work with their name attached directly to the folder or contribute anonymously via email.

The pieces cover a range of topics and academic disciplines. Melody Khoriaty ’21 decided to contribute their paper on the impact of climate change and human activity on the mangroves.

“People put so much effort into their academics and the things that they create. And then it gets submitted for a grade and you still have that knowledge but the whole thing gets kind of forgotten about,” Khoriaty said. “It doesn’t deserve to be forgotten just because the class ended.”

Ethan McLear ’23, who also submitted a paper, said he liked that this new platform allows students to engage more thoughtfully with each other’s work.

“It would take me a long time to go through in the [amount of] detail that I want to go through if I was talking to someone about it face to face,” McLear said. “But if you read what is actually written you can take as long as you want to learn about it at your own pace, and you can revisit it multiple times without having to even talk to me.”

Putnam said that this project creates an opportunity for students to explore topics they would not have otherwise come across.

“Sometimes we do get to read others’ papers, but it’s within the same class or we’re both working on the same research project or we’re peer editing maybe,” Putnam said. “So I also wanted science majors to be able to read a sociology paper because I feel like there is not a lot of cross pollination there.”

Putnam has been reading the papers when they have free time.

“I feel like it’s kind of the equivalent of a Wikipedia dive,” they added.

McLear said he appreciated that in addition to sharing work, he appreciated the chance to receive feedback. In the end, the project aims to create a more diverse and open intellectual exchange.

“It’s nice to know that I put a resource out there that could expand people’s thinking,” he said. “ I think it’s a really, really positive and healthy impulse that has come out of a purely student driven effort.”

Editor’s Note: 2/1/2020 at 12:08 p.m.: A previous version of this article referred to Melody Khoriaty as Jordan Khoriaty. This has been corrected to Melody.


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