Edit desk: Thank you, Mountaintop


Chris Gaetano

When I finished my last exam of the spring 2018 semester, I was thrilled to finally go home to my family and friends. I was also relieved to be leaving Lehigh for a little while. However, I knew I wouldn’t be gone too long.

The following week, I came to Lehigh to take part in research in Lehigh’s Creative Inquiry and Mountaintop Program. When I returned to campus, the first thing I noticed was that the school was much quieter than ever before. This was very different from the hustle and bustle I had seen a week ago during finals.

As I rode on the bus up the mountain with a handful of other students, I thought to myself, I hope that my Mountaintop experience is more lively than the rest of campus is right now.

When I walked into Building C for the program’s orientation, I was pleasantly surprised to see a room full of students also participating in the Mountaintop experience. As orientation began, all of the students in the room got up to discuss the projects they would be working on during the summer.

The students presented a variety of projects from social sciences to natural sciences, each with its own desired goals and end game. What I thought was great about the program was that so many different students from different backgrounds could all come together under one roof and study what they loved.

I spent the summer researching the idea of collective privacy alongside three other students and three faculty members. The full title of the project was “Negotiating Privacy Boundaries: The Social and Collective Aspects of Privacy Management.” It was a mouthful to explain to anybody who asked what the project was called.

But the project’s title was as long as it was interesting, and my teammates, advisers and I were constantly finding something new to look at and delving further into our research.

Over the course of the 10 weeks, the team and I spent a lot of time reading, analyzing, interviewing and collecting data to better understand collective privacy. The autonomy of the program was one of the best aspects, as students were able to control the research process. The faculty members showed a lot of trust in the students. They really let the students steer the project and the direction that the research went in.

As nice as the autonomy was, however, it was always helpful to have some assistance from our advisers during the project.

Each day, the high bays of Building C were filled with students going about their own research from early in the morning to late in the day as they made progress on their projects.

The culmination of Mountaintop was in the penultimate week of the program during the summer expo where students presented their final projects in front of peers, professors, and people from outside the Lehigh community.

In the beginning of the summer, I was already impressed when the teams stood up in front of everyone and explained what their projects would entail. Walking around the expo at the end of the summer and seeing what the projects blossomed into was an enriching experience. Seeing so many students create so much was impressive and the expo was the perfect way to showcase the outcome of the program.

Although campus is a little quieter during the summer, it doesn’t mean that Lehigh is quiet. The knowledge and hard work of the community was as present as it would be at any other day during the school year, and I have Mountaintop to thank for that.

Christopher Gaetano, ’19, is an assistant sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]

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