DENTON (UNT), Texas — University of North Texas 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.
Hensen was one of five UNT students with articles published in the first issue of “The Eagle Feather,” the UNT Honors College’s online publication to showcase research conducted by undergraduate students. The publication will be celebrated Oct. 1 (Tuesday) at a reception for its 10th issue. The reception will be held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the Forum on the first floor of UNT’s Willis Library, which is located at 1506 W. Highland St.
Hensen, who was an Honors College student, graduated from UNT in May 2004 with degrees in international studies and criminal justice. He had his research article published in October 2004. To conduct the research, he accessed the Peace Palace Library between watching the war crimes trial of deposed Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and speaking with court staff members.
He said the research helped him win a scholarship to American University, where he earned a master’s degree in international politics and conflict resolution. Now an attorney working in the Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Regulatory and Administrative Affairs, Hensen said going through an editing process for “The Eagle Feather” taught him to better edit the submissions to a journal showcasing research of students in American University’s School of International Service.
“When I was getting e-mails 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 said. “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 on research techniques 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, calls “The Eagle Feather” “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 said.
“The Eagle Feather” welcomes articles from UNT undergraduates other than Honors College students. Past issues have included articles from students in specific academic departments and students from other universities who participated in UNT’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates summer programs, which are funded by the National Science Foundation.
Sam Matteson, UNT professor of physics and a founding member of “The Eagle Feather’s” editorial board, said 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,” said Matteson, who added that research “is incomplete without communication” about the results.
Amanda Chase received her bachelor’s degree in general studies from UNT in 2004. She turned her Honors College thesis — about the effect of coping on the physical and mental health of abused women — into an article in the first “Eagle Feather.” She’s now a community prosecutor in the Dallas City Attorney’s Office.
Chase said 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 said.