Lia Sokol

Lia Sokol in front of a tree.

Project title: The Social Psychology of Civic Engagement

Project description: My project focuses on the sociological and psychological processes behind civic engagement and political participation. I'm fascinated by what motivates people to vote, protest, and take part in politics, particularly in countries without strong democratic processes, where there is no clear 'reward' for these actions. I aim to focus on a comparison of democracies and electoral autocracies, regimes that have certain fixtures of democracy – elections, for instance – that create a facade of competition and may encourage participation without ultimately generating a meaningful result. Even in nations that are established democracies, voting does not directly lead to a clear 'reward,' particularly if one votes for the losing candidate. Still, millions of people take time out of their day to vote, protest, volunteer for campaigns, and engage with politics, even if their efforts may not lead to change. These actions fascinate and intrigue me, and through my College Scholar Project, I hope to explore the aspects of why someone may choose to engage in civic action – or not.

Most important accomplishment: I don't think I have a single greatest accomplishment yet, but I am proud of the way that I have chosen to chart my own academic path, from transferring schools to spending a semester in Washington, D.C. to joining the College Scholar Program. I'm excited to see what comes next and hope that my most important accomplishment is yet to come.

Reflections on the College Scholar Program: I'm incredibly grateful to the College Scholar Program for providing such a distinctive opportunity to explore my precise interests during college. It is encouraging me to think critically about my studies, from deciding which classes I want to take to what I will write my thesis about. One of the most exciting opportunities thus far has been to take a class with my College Scholar cohort and learn about the wide array of issues they are studying; it is fascinating to hear their incredible ideas and discover the breadth of areas that their projects cover.