Independent Study Proposal

Independent Study Proposal – Jack Linger

  1. Title – A divided America? A conversation with everyday Americans living in rural areas across the United States about what our country is doing right, areas for improvement and what issues (economy, environment, etc.) matter most to them.  
  • Faculty Advisors
  1. Mr. Lineberger – currently my AP Environmental Sciences teacher. Mr. Lineberger and I have discussed this proposal and my views on sustainability and the environment. I believe Mr. Lineberger can be helpful to me in formulating questions on environmental issues and things of that nature.
  2. Mr. Bryant – currently my 11th grade history teacher. Mr. Bryant and I have discussed this proposal. I believe Mr. Bryant can be helpful to me in formulating questions on politics, political history and some of the issues currently debated among US citizens.
  • Driving Questions
  1. On the cusp of turning 18 and being able to vote, what issues should matter most to me when I am able to vote for our country’s leaders, and how do my views compare to others across the United States.
  2. Beyond the major metropolitan areas of the East and West Coasts of the United States and educated/affluent communities such as Chapel Hill/Durham, how do everyday Americans feel about:
  1. What our country is doing right;
  2. What could be done to make our country better;
  3. What current issues matter most to them; and

Basically, I would like to gather viewpoints (a report card of sorts) from a cross-section of everyday people across the United States about how our country is doing and what issues concern them the most about the future. Since I have personal views on all the above questions, I would approach this more as a conversation with people that I meet on my journey (described below) versus some type of formal questions to random strangers.

  1. Although I intend ask questions about all current issues that people may be concerned about, I do plan to try and direct conversations toward the environment and climate change. In particular, I would really like to understand how much of a concern climate change is among people and the places I plan to travel through. For instance, I am traveling through North Dakota which is prime oil shale territory – do people in North Dakota care about climate change the way I do? Questions like that would be very interesting to me and I am very comfortable having conversations about that sort of subject.   
  2. With respect to the general questions in A-C above, are there major differences in answers/opinions across the United States. If yes, can you conclude anything about these differences based on geography (state and rural vs urban areas) and type of people responding (old vs young, education background, type of employment, man vs women, etc.).
  3. Although the above are my primary questions, I plan to be very flexible in my approach and will be looking to use my journey to observe and potentially gather other information/datapoint on topics that would benefit from the type of interaction I am planning with a diverse cross-section of people across the United States.
  • Preliminary List of Activities
  1. Collecting viewpoints from a cross section of everyday Americans will be accomplished via a solo bicycle trip across the Northern United States commencing in early June 2019, details include the following:
  1. Start in Anacortes, WA on 6/2/19 and plan to finish up in Brunswick, ME by early August.
  2. Have detailed route that passes through rural portions of Washington State, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
  3. I have riding partners for some portions of the trip and other portions may include people that follow/support the ride.
  4. Without providing a very long list of details, the trip is well planned, thought through and supported financially so I have the best possible chance of succeeding at the cycling portion of the project.
  1. Interacting with people and data collection
  2. For the duration of the trip, I plan to spend nights at hotels, motels, hostels and campgrounds which should provide plenty of opportunities to speak with other people.
  3. Based on some preliminary research about my actual travel route (The North Tier Route from the American Cycling Association), I have been told there will be many other cyclists on the route and that people/businesses along the route are accustomed to helping/assisting cyclists. As such, I believe this should provide me with plenty of opportunities to strike up casual conservations about some of the topics I mentioned before.
  4. On a nightly basis, I plan to summarize any interesting observations and conversations from the day
  5. I also plan to develop and keep a blog
  • Independent Study Project – Resources and interim decision to move forward

I am making this independent study proposal with the assumption that I will be able to collect some interesting viewpoints and data from my bicycle trip. However, there is also a risk that I will not be successful in collecting enough viewpoints/data or the information that I collect is not significant.

I plan to keep my faculty advisors apprised of my progress over the summer and seek guidance if necessary. Once I complete the trip, I plan to meet with my faculty advisors and decide whether any of the information/data that I collected is interesting enough to further analyze. If we all agree there is enough information/data to continue with the independent project as I originally envisioned, I will seek out other resources in terms of how best to analyze and present such information.

  • Month-to-month plan for showing progress
  1. June through August – bicycle trip
  2. Late August – meet with Faculty Advisors to decide if information gathered from bicycle trip is significant enough to justify moving forward with the development of a research project summarizing data collected from trip.
  3. September-December – If moving forward independent study project, develop plan with Faculty Advisors on form and substance of final product.
  • Expected form of final product
  1. Research paper or collection of vignettes that can be presented to an audience.