As a sociologist, Tamara Kay, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Global Affairs and Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, concerns herself with how societies work or, at times, don't work. During her recent visit to campus as part of the Benelli Writing Center's Visiting Writers Series, she shared some of that wisdom with Thayer history students.
"Through research, I'm trying to solve the puzzle," said Kay, who spoke to classes about how and why she became a sociologist and how her work goes from idea to research to book. To that point, she also discussed Sesame Street Travels the World, her upcoming book about how the iconic U.S. children's program navigates cultural differences, manages conflicts, and generates successful project outcomes to bring the show to roughly 150 countries around the world.
Solving that puzzle took seven years of fieldwork and more than 200 interviews from 17 countries, but what Kay found was that the beloved show builds alliances with other countries to co-produce culturally resonant adaptations rather than take a top-down, take-it-or-leave-it approach.
"They negotiate things, and they have a very flexible model," said Kay, adding that such positive results would be of interest to the thousands of NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) working to make a difference in various countries around the world. Kay called finding that effective mix "the secret sauce."
After Kay's Nov. 21 talk, History Teacher Karen Jersild, director of the BWC's Visiting Writers Series, facilitated a question-and-answer period which saw several students raise their hands, leading to an impromptu discussion almost longer than the original presentation.
Tamara Kay, Ph.D., a sociologist and professor at Notre Dame University, recently visited Thayer Academy as a BWC Visiting Writer.