Undergraduate Spotlight: Cameron Lange
Cameron Lange (she/her) is a double major in philosophy and political science. Outside of the classroom, she spends most of her time promoting youth civic engagement around campus and in the community. She serves as Vice President of Every Vote Counts, a non-partisan civic engagement non-profit, and was the two-time head of StanfordVotes. In addition to her voting work, she kept busy on campus as a Research Assistant at the Deliberative Democracy Lab and as Co-President of Stanford Democrats and Stanford Film Society.
Why did you choose to participate in the Honors Program in Ethics in Society?
I chose to participate in the Ethics in Society Honors Program because I was excited about the opportunity to rigorously study a single question over an extended timeline. Stanford’s ten-week quarter system seems to favor breadth over depth; I have never spent longer than a month on a paper or gone through more than one round of feedback and revisions on a project with teaching staff. Already, I have grown tremendously through the process of developing and refining my ideas with my advisor, Professor Emilee Chapman.
What are you exploring for your honors thesis research?
In my thesis, I am exploring whether America’s minimum voting age is justifiable. During the fall quarter, I tested whether a minimum voting age is advisable in theory. I focused on arguments about the relationship between competence and the right to political participation. Now, I plan to set the theoretical debate aside and spend winter quarter considering whether there are compelling practical reasons to maintain a minimum voting age. More specifically, I am curious about how parental proxy voting for very young children might work and about how eliminating the minimum voting age might affect the juvenile justice system.
Explain why your topic interests you and share any “aha” moments that you’ve experienced in your research.
I was initially drawn to my topic because of my recent lived experience as a minor who was interested in, affected by, and excluded from the electoral process. I think the choice to exclude any segment of the populace from the electorate should receive scrutiny.
I experience regular “aha” moments when realizing how features of the social and political status quo have shaped my intuitions about what is possible or desirable. My favorite part of the research process involves unpacking and interrogating my preconceived notions. Sometimes, I find that my immediate hunches can be substantiated with sound reasons, but sometimes I don’t.
How do you define ethics, and how has this approach affected how you examine your thesis topic and your other studies?
As a philosophy major, I have experienced moments of exasperation while tackling lofty questions that have no clear bearing on how we should act in the world. And as a political science major, I have sometimes felt limited in courses that focus on empirically describing the way things are. I view ethics, or normative inquiry about human behavior, as the thrilling place where these fields intersect. I am grateful for the freedom to imagine alternate political possibilities and for the opportunity to investigate these ideas in a structured way.