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Illuminating Humanities: Colin Peek

Colin Peek, 2023-24 Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholar, Department of Global Languages and Cultures, Texas A&M

The Glasscock Center is excited to continue this series that highlights humanities research at Texas A&M, as well as the vital role played by the humanities beyond the academy.

For this highlight, we invite Colin Peek to tell us about his experience as a Glasscock Center Undergraduate Summer Scholar (UGSS) participating in the Right to Vote seminar co-directed by Dr. Katherine Unterman (HIST) and Dr. Linda Radzik (PHIL).

Colin Peek is a Junior pursuing a major in International Studies at Texas A&M University. He plans to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in International Studies and hopes to have a career with the U.S. Foreign Service.

Peek is a Glasscock Center Undergraduate Summer Scholar who recently participated in the Right to Vote seminar co-directed by Dr. Katherine Unterman (HIST) and Dr. Linda Radzik (PHIL). The Right to Vote seminar examined the historical and philosophical perspectives of voting accessibility by tracing expansions and restrictions over American history. History was not Peek’s favorite subject growing up, but he is now convinced of its importance, “When I was younger, I never really liked history,” he says, “but you gain such a deeper understanding and appreciation for how the world works.”

The UGSS program provides various resources to undergraduate students, including mentorship, with the goal of developing a proposal for submission to the LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Scholars thesis program. Peek applied for UGSS because “it is one of the better ways to get involved in undergraduate research with a lot of structure and support.” Peek feels that the seminar opened his eyes to different aspects of American history and made him more aware of the importance of the humanities.

Colin Peek answers Faculty Director Dr. Katherine Unterman’s question during the two week, in person summer seminar as part of the Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholar Program.

Peek believes that Drs. Radzik and Unterman’s mentorship has been one of the most important aspects of the program because of his unfamiliarity with developing a research project. “I’ve never written a thesis this long or tried to do original research,” Peek says. “[O]ne of the things that I really appreciated about the seminar is that Dr. Unterman and Dr. Radzik talked to us so much about ways to find sources [and] about research techniques like evaluating sources.” 

Peek’s research explores the degree of  democracy embraced by  the Soviet Union, and its earlier iterations, before the second World War. He takes an international approach to the idea of the right to vote because of his interest in European and Central Asian studies. “I thought it would be interesting to look at how other countries conceive of democracy, what it means to be a democracy and to have the right to participate in government,” Peek says. He additionally takes “a different perspective from the general Western philosophical view that’s dominated most modern democracies.”

The humanities gives a more in-depth understanding of how the world operates, which Peek believes is a necessity for international studies majors. “[I]nternational studies is about understanding people around the world and how they relate to one another, how they interact, and connect,” Peek says. “And there’s really no way to do that without trying to understand the people themselves, their history, and their culture.”