2013 Eagle Feather, the 10th anniversary issue
Alumnus Chris Hensen knew he'd have to complete a research paper for his study abroad trip to the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia when he was selected for the trip in 2003.
But Hensen didn't imagine that his paper on defendants using orders and duress from superior officers as a defense would be published -- and later lead to his becoming editor-in-chief of a graduate student journal at American University in Washington, D.C.
Since 2004, Hensen and four other UNT students' articles have been published in The Eagle Feather, the UNT Honors College's annual online publication to showcase research conducted by undergraduate students.
Hensen, a former Honors College student, graduated from UNT in May 2004 with degrees in international studies and criminal justice. His research article was featured in The Eagle Feather's first issue in October 2004.
To conduct the research, he used the Peace Palace Library in between watching the war crimes trial of deposed Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and speaking with court staff members. He says the research helped him win a scholarship to American University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a master's degree in international politics and conflict resolution. His research also helped him become editor-in-chief of a graduate student journal at American University.
Now an attorney working in the Veterans Health Administration's Office of Regulatory and Administrative Affairs, Hensen says going through the editing process for The Eagle Feather taught him to better edit submissions for a journal showcasing students' research in American University's School of International Service.
"When I was getting emails from the authors, I understood their concerns because I had written a much longer version of my paper for my class, and it needed to be pared down for The Eagle Feather, Hensen says. "I learned to become a better writer."
The Eagle Feather is an extension of both the Honors College's research track and University Scholars Day. In the research track, students take two courses to prepare to do research with a faculty mentor and write a formal thesis before receiving their bachelor's degrees. University Scholars Day, which has been held each April since 2004, gives students in the research track and other UNT students a way to present their research as they would at professional conferences. The students who win awards for best poster presentations are encouraged to submit their work to The Eagle Feather.
Susan Eve, associate dean of the Honors College and the publication's editor for 10 issues, says The Eagle Feather is "an important piece of the Honors College's focus on research."
"An article represents a commitment to truth, accuracy, critical thinking and good writing," she says.
The Eagle Feather also welcomes articles from other UNT undergraduates. Past issues have included articles from students in specific academic departments and students from other universities who participated in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates summer programs held at UNT.
Sam Matteson, professor of physics and a founding member of The Eagle Feather's editorial board, says the publication is a "nurturing way" to prepare students for publishing research in peer-reviewed journals as graduate students and professionals.
"The Eagle Feather is peer reviewed, and students must meet certain standards to be published, but the research results don't have to be earthshaking," says Matteson, who added that research "is incomplete without communication" about the results.
Alumna Amanda Chase, who received her bachelor's degree in general studies from UNT in 2004, says she turned her Honors College thesis about the effect of coping on abused women's physical and mental health into an article in the first Eagle Feather. She's now a community prosecutor in the Dallas City Attorney's Office.
Chase says her work for her thesis led her to a law career, and being published while still an undergraduate gave her an edge in applying to law school.
"Undergraduate research made me a critical thinker and a critical writer. The process shaped my passions, my work ethic and my career," she says.
Nancy Kolsti with UNT News Service can be reached at Nancy.Kolsti@unt.edu.