Colton Ames


Where does your international research/engagement take place?
Currently Taiwan, but some new research opportunities might take me to South Korea

Please briefly describe your research/activity.
I am studying democratic citizenship education in Taiwan, specifically as it pertains to national identity formation. Essentially, what does it mean to learn how to be a citizen in one of Asia's strongest democracies?

Why does your research/activity matter?
As we've seen around the world in the past few years, democracy cannot be taken for granted. And with a lot of the challenges to democracy in the region, like with Hong Kong since 2019, I think it's important to see how students are understanding democracy and taking steps to value and protect it.

What led you to this research/activity?
I received a fellowship in 2019 to go and study at National Chengchi University in Taipei—right when all of the pro-democracy demonstrations were happening in Hong Kong. It was really impactful to be talking to Taiwanese students as we were all watching what was happening in Hong Kong and to hear what they had to say about their own nation, their democracy, and their support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. I wanted to learn more about their ideas and how they learned about them.

What problem do you hope this research/activity will solve/what are your hopes for this work?
This work lets us use contemporary politics and international affairs as a lens to interpret facets of education systems around the globe. I'm really interested in seeing how education is becoming more openly implicated in current events, especially around student civic engagement and how education is responsive to currently changing political discourses.

How will your work create change for the better?
I would really like my work to start a discussion on how students are more engaged with global affairs than we maybe give them credit for. Seeing the students in Taiwan so energized to talk about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong really demonstrated that there are ways that students are interpreting the changing world around them, and they are willing to stand up and take action to advocate for themselves and their beliefs. It's inspiring, and I hope to be able to share those stories.