David Campbell/Fred Borgen Psychology Graduate Student International Travel Fund

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The Campbell/Borgen Fund is designed to facilitate the early professional international experiences of ISU psychology graduate students by providing them with financial assistance up to $2,500.

This fund has been established in recognition of Dr. Campbell’s gratitude for the excellent graduate education that he received from the faculty at ISU Department of Psychology. Through this fund, Dr Campbell also recognizes the contributions of Dr. Fred Borgen, a faculty member for 32 years in the ISU Department of Psychology and former student of Dr. Campbell.

The Campbell/Borgen award provided Renee Murray with the opportunity to attend the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists Summer School in February 2012. To learn more about her experience

Campbell/Borgen Award Summary

What a unique opportunity it is to receive funding as a graduate student to travel and research abroad.  To be supported, both financially and intellectually, this early in one’s professional career is an honor that instills a sense of commitment to scholarly practice.

I received the Campbell/Borgen Psychology Graduate Student International Travel Fund in the summer of 2011.  I was granted the fund to travel to Shikoku Island, Japan to study various psychological attributes of religious pilgrims.  Of foremost interest in this research was a relationship between levels of religious commitment and the use of various coping mechanisms in response to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.  My research plan entailed travelling to Shikoku for a period of two weeks; walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage and passing out questionnaires to pilgrims completing the 60 day journey.

While in Japan, I had numerous planned and unplanned experiences which contributed to my research.  Travelling the pilgrimage route proved more taxing than I had expected, but the kindness and generosity of pilgrims and residents of the surrounding towns and villages made the journey manageable and enjoyable.  Additionally, my meetings with and reliance upon local kindness awarded me with many opportunities to discuss and collect qualitative data on the experiences of pilgrims.  These meetings helped shape some of the unexpected findings that were appearing in my research, including questions like “why were pilgrims, who devoted 60 days of their life to a religious endeavor, scoring so low on the Religious Commitment Inventory?”, and “why were most pilgrims aversive to seeking professional help?”.  Answers to questions like these have helped me to expand what has been a largely Western-dominated perception of the relationships between culture, religion, and mental health.

I can imagine that immersing myself in the culture and area of the Shikoku pilgrimage has been much more meaningful and insightful than if I had studied the pilgrimage secondhand.  I would never have come to know the ritual nature of this Buddhist practice, the complexity and intricacy of the trail and pilgrims, nor the particular psychology of this unique subset of individuals.  Travelling with an experienced guide and coordinating my trip with an ethnographic researcher from Iowa State University added even greater depth to my learning and experience.

Still, receiving the Campbell/Borgen award is a great honor not only because of the recognition and financial assistance it provides but also because it is an opportunity to meet and learn from two prolific professional scholars.  Prior to departing for my trip, Drs. Borgen and Campbell went out of their way to show their support.  I had numerous insightful conversations with Dr. Borgen in person and through e-mail.  Each time I was stunned and humbled by his open and earnest tone; despite the differences in our experience he treated me as a peer.  Dr. Campbell was also forthright in discussing the difficulties of international research.  These experiences of scholarly collaboration were as much a benefit toward my professional development as the financial award and research itself.

Additionally, both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Borgen were invested in the success of my travel and research.  Dr. Campbell introduced me to an international researcher working at the Keio Research Institute in Tokyo.  This researcher provided valuable feedback and support of my primary research question.  Dr. Borgen generously hosted a lunch for myself and a student from Japan currently in the Ames area.  This provided me the opportunity to expand the qualitative aspects of my study as well as gain insight into possible reactions to and problems for my research plan.

Now, as I work to turn this opportunity into scholarly publication and to give back what was given to me, I feel compelled to prove myself worthy of the kindness and generosity shown to me by Drs. Campbell and Borgen.  This award and resulting experience has left an indelible mark on my growth as an international researcher and future psychologist.  It is with my sincerest gratitude then that I extend my thanks to Dr. Fred Borgen and Dr. David Campbell.


Jeritt Tucker