Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Katharine Davis


Presented during the 19th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 21, 2017 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

The summer of 1996 saw the beginnings of what would become a unique part of the Ursinus College experience, a program that remains distinctive among undergraduate institutions; interested students of all majors were invited to apply to spend their summer break working intimately with a faculty mentor on students' own research as a Summer Fellow. In recent years, the Summer Fellows program has expanded to include on-campus housing for the eight-week duration of the program, a weekly lunch and speaker series, and a $2,500 stipend, in addition to the original opportunity to build meaningful relationships with faculty and other students, all while actively engaged in the practicalities of doing research in their respective discipline. This educational experience has potential to contribute to a student’s future economic, social, and cultural capital – concepts developed by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, which help describe how one positions themselves within a given social order. This paper analyzes data collected from questionnaires, interviews, and participant observation conducted with current Summer Fellows to explore how these forms of capital relate to student success and application to the Summer Fellows program. Students were asked questions about their educational backgrounds, extracurricular activities, and familial relationships in order to obtain a better sense of how the capital they already have and levy may have influenced their decision to apply. The ethnographic approach used for this paper attempts to accurately represent the various narratives of participating students and define which forms of capital are specifically valuable within the context of academia.