SAFE Faculty Spotlight: Dr. William Hicks
Dr. William Hicks, associate professor, Department of Government and Justice Studies
Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) fund recipient
Project: “Racial Threat Hypothesis Extended: Social Media, Policy Preferences and Race”
Collaborating with his student, Molly Thomas, Hicks used SAFE grant funds to acquire a more than 1000-person representative sample of American adults. A survey was then administered with an embedded experiment to this sample in an effort to measure how the racial identity of social media users engaged in political conversations shape the policy preferences of people who happen to read them. With this data, Hicks and Thomas are now exploring options to publish their study in a political science journal.
Not only has Thomas learned a great deal from this experience that will contribute to her growth as a scholar, but she also may use some of this data in her master's thesis. Additionally, Shaw will use this data and the survey in his graduate seminar on Research Methods and Statistics to teach both survey experiments and techniques in statistical analysis with future students.
“SAFE funds helped Molly and I learn that social media conversations can shape the policy preferences of people who read those conversations. Importantly, though, we find that it is not the content of the conversations that matter, per se, but rather the racial identity of the social media users engaged in these conversations. This finding critically contributes to our understanding of how people form policy preferences,” explained Shaw.
About the SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at: https://cas.appstate.edu/students/student-and-faculty-excellence-safe-fund.
About the Department of Government and Justice Studies
Appalachian State University’s Department of Government and Justice Studies offers undergraduate programs in political science and criminal justice, and graduate programs in political science and public administration. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the department has over 600 undergraduate majors and more than 70 graduate students. Learn more at https://gjs.appstate.edu.
Compiled and written by Sophia Woodall
April 26, 2021