Sociology Awards

Jerome Davis Research Award

The Jerome Davis Research Award comes from the Jerome Davis Research Fund. This fund was established in 1924 to support Oberlin students who “worked with labor” to facilitate “mutual understanding and cooperation in the field of industry.”

Students were expected to publish the results of such fieldwork. Later in the 20th century, Dr. Jerome Davis agreed to expand the terms of the fund to make available study grants to “Honors and other well-qualified students in the social sciences at Oberlin to assist them in doing fieldwork in a community as part of their academic programs. In awarding the grants, consideration will be given to financial needs.”

The Jerome Davis Research Award Committee is chaired by a faculty member of the Oberlin College sociology department and includes faculty representatives from the departments of anthropology, economics, history, politics, and psychology.

Every fall and spring term, the Jerome Davis Research Award Committee invites high-quality applications from Oberlin College honors students and other advanced students (except Senior Scholars) engaged in research projects are invited to apply for support from The Jerome Davis Research Fund. These awards are designed to defray research costs of projects in the social sciences, and well-defined topics focusing on or having implications for the community (broadly defined).

How to Apply

Students can apply for reimbursement for research already undertaken​1 but need to submit an itemized budget signed with the Honor Code. Normally, awards will not exceed $1000 and may be used for expenses related to travel, interviewing, supplies, equipment rental, etc.​2 These funds are not for the purchase of equipment or for photocopying honors theses. Department advances or reimbursement requests will not be funded, and book purchases are rarely funded. The work should result in a research paper on a community-related topic.

Along with your application, you must have a faculty letter of support completed by your project advisor; it will not be considered without it.

Download both the Winter Term Application Form and the faculty letter form here. Winter Term applications are due by midnight (12 AM) on Monday, December 18th, 2023 via email to Attach applications as .docx files.

Questions may be directed to the chair of the Jerome Davis Research Fund Committee, Greggor Mattson at

Download the poster 


[1] Reimbursement for previous research-related expenses are limited to those paid by the student. Return to reference 1

[2] All research must adhere to current ObieSafe Policies. Return to reference 2

Jerome Davis was born on December 2, 1891 in Kioto, Japan, where his parents were missionaries. Jerome spent his early childhood in Japan, as his father had helped to found Doshisha University and was a teacher there.

He came to the United States in 1904, to attend Oberlin Academy and, later, Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He was an active member of the debating team and president of the Young Men’s Christian Association. After graduation in 1913, he decided he wanted to enter a service occupation. He worked for a year with the Minneapolis Civic and Commerce Association.

Among his other accomplishments, he was able to get a half holiday for workers in some of the larger factories in Minneapolis. In 1914, Davis decided to study for the ministry and also obtain a doctorate. He began studying at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University simultaneously. Davis did not return to school that fall [1915]. Instead, he volunteered to go to Europe and work with prisoners of war.

When the United States entered the war, he was put in charge of all YMCA work in Russia. At the request of the U.S. government, he directed the distribution of over a million copies of President Wilson’s “14 Points” message to soldiers in the German army. Davis opposed the United States invasion of Russia because he felt more could be accomplished by recognizing the Soviet Union and trying to work with that country than by going to war

After completing his work at Union Theological Seminary in 1920 and obtaining a PhD at Columbia University in 1922, Davis became an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth, he aided the labor movement by investigating a strike at the Amoskeag plant in Manchester, New Hampshire, and publishing his findings. The Federal Coal Commission asked him to investigate the labor situation in the coal mines of West Virginia. 

Many of his findings were incorporated in the Federal Coal Commission report. During this period, he also served as chair of the Social Service Commission of the Congregational Church. His work in social service brought him an in invitation, in 1924, to occupy the Gilbert L. Stark Chair of Practical Philanthropy at Yale University.

During his time at Yale, he organized monthly labor forums for the New Haven Trades Council; formulated a statement of social ideals regarding labor, which was adopted by the Congregational and Christian Churches of America; and served as chair of the Social Service Commission of all the Protestant churches in Connecticut.

He also served as chair of the Legislative Commission on Jails of the State of Connecticut for 12 years.

Some of Davis’ stands, particularly on organized labor, were unpopular with various members of the Yale Board of Directors. This hampered his career at Yale and eventually cost him his job. The case generated considerable publicity in 1936, and investigations were conducted by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Labor, and the American Association of University Professors.

Davis was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers in 1936, and served in that capacity for three years. In 1940, he was a delegate from Connecticut to the Democratic National Convention.

He was a visiting professor at various colleges and universities but never again held a full‑time teaching position.

During World War II, he headed the YMCA prisoner of war work in Canada and served as a correspondent in Russia in 1943 and 1944. In 1949 he headed a peace mission to Europe and in 1952, became the executive director of Promoting Enduring Peace, Inc…

Davis has written numerous articles and more than 20 books. He died  on October 19, 1979.

From a description of the Papers of Jerome Davis at:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
4079 Albany Post Road
Hyde Park, New York 12538

Spring 2020

  • James Cato – The effects of prospection on systems thinking and pro-environmental behavior
  • Nina Harris – Impacts of Identity and Perception Guatemalan Women’s Asylum
  • Simon Idelson - Appropriating the Ancient: “The Politics of the Re-Utilization of Historic Neighborhoods in Rabat and Tetouan, Morocco (1956-present)”
  • Max Kramer - Developing a Machine Learning Algorithm to Predict Daily Functioning in a Population of Adolescents Living with Chronic Pain
  • Rachel Marcus - Rail Park: Philadelphia’s Urban Development and the Right to the City
  • Ella Murray - Shule Ya Kujitambua: Remembering Oberlin’s Schools
  • Jack Spector Bishop - Good Sex, Bad Sex, Queer Sex: Narratives of MSM Experience

Fall 2019

  • Emma Williams – Dreaming of Abolitionist Futures: Reconceptualizing Child Welfare Keeping Kids Safe in the Age of Abolition
  • Gillian Pasley – Accounting for Race and Racism: Examining the Goals and Effects of Multicultural Teacher Training in Ohio
  • Cecelia Longo – More than a Victim: Women’s Use of Rhetoric in Seattle, Washington, 1880-1910
  • Shogo Ishikawa – Bringing Barefoot Dialogue Outside of Oberlin



    Spring 2019

    • Bikalpa Baniya – Student Immigration and Presidential Rhetoric


    Fall 2018

    • Charles Sherman - Club Politics: Examining Queer Nightlife's Engagement with Anti-Oppression Framework
    • Emery Webster - The Effect of Systems Thinking on Pro-Environmental Behavior
    • Emma Downing - Representations of Prostitution in the Soviet Mass Media, 1985-1991
    • Izel Maddouri - Impacts of Intergovernmental Transfers on Municipality Development in Brazil
    • Nathan Carpenter - Africatown Oral History Archive

    Spring 2018

    • Eli Silverman-Lloyd — “Developing a Novel Measure of College Students’ Attitudes Toward Sexual Misconduct”
    • Juliet Flam-Ross — “Chilled Out or Out of a Job? Effects of Alcohol Prohibition on Wages in India”

    Fall 2017

    • Joshua Ashkinaze — “Hot Tempers & Cold Turkeys: The Effect of Political Polarization on Thanksgiving Travel”
    • Zurisiday Gutierrez-Avila — “Higher Education Responses to Undocumented Students”
    • Hannah Kim — “Forget-Me-Not: Memoirs of Genocide, the Armenian American Lobby, and U.S. Foreign Policy”
    • Ramzy Lakos — “Kinship and Cognition”
    • Xin Luan — “Kinship Cognition: the Psychological Effects of Kinship Classification in Chinese and English”
    • Liam McLean — “The Production and Circulation of Counterterrorist Discourse In Academic Institutions”
    • Rebecca Primoff — “Demand Elasticity and Market Power in the Legal Marijuana Industry”
    • Ari Rosenblum — “Gender Nonconformity and the Stereotype Content Model”
    • Charis Stanek — “Mental Health Discourses at Oberlin College: Stigmas and Help-Seeking”
    • Eric Thompson — “Investigating the Effects of Varying Payoff Structures on Strategies in a Repeated Stag Hunt Game”
    • Angie: Vaaler — “Make Proud Choices!: The formation of sexual citizenship in the Minneapolis”

    The Comfort Starr Prize

    The Starr Prize was established in July 1902, by gift of $2,500 from Merritt Starr of Chicago, Illinois, to which was added his gift of $2,000 to the Endowment and Building Fund of 1923.

    By direction of the donor, interest is to be added to the principal of the fund until it reaches the sum of $10,000. The income is to be used:

    • first—to pay term bills and college charges of every kind, other than those for board and lodging of the children of Merritt Starr in any department of Oberlin College;
    • second—to pay for the education of deserving scholars in the college department in the studies of civics, economics, political history, and kindred subjects, as a reward for excellence in such studies.

    • Margaret Gross
    • Jonathan Liu
    • Naeisha McClain 
    • Gillian Pasley
    • John Spector Bishop

    • Brian Cabral
    • Lujza Demuthova
    • Sylvie Florman
    • Zurisaday Gutierrez-Avila
    • Erin Lassner
    • Mai Miyagaki
    • Maria Roussos
    • Charis Stanek

    • Maurice Cohn
    • Ian Gilchrist
    • James Miller
    • Nathaniel Sher