Alpha Kappa Delta - Sociology Honors Society
Over the years I have become a member of various "honors societies." I have become a member of organizations dedicated to promoting academic excellence for veterans, for community college students, and for psychology students, but my affiliation with AKD was by far the most useful.
AKD, short for Alpha Kappa Delta, is an honors organization dedicated to sociology students and faculty. On their website, AKD lists its mission statement as follows:
"Alpha Kappa Delta seeks to acknowledge and promote excellence in scholarship in the study of sociology, the research of social problems, and such other social and intellectual activities as will lead to improvement in the human condition."
Costs of Alpha Kappa Delta - Sociology Honors Society
Becoming involved with AKD has associated costs, both monetary and administrative, but I will begin with the administrative costs. In order for students to become a member of AKD, their institution must first have an established chapter. This involves having student interest, faculty interest, and a good level of investment on both sides to establish meeting times and organizational rules. At the University of Northern Colorado (UNCO), faculty mentors always seemed invested, making the membership quite valuable.
The second cost for AKD is to the individuals who want to become members. Members are asked to pay a $50 lifetime fee as well as meet several other criteria. Members must be a sociology major or minor, be at least a junior by institutional standards, maintain at least a 3.3 GPA, and have taken at least 4 sociology courses.
At UNCO we overcame some of these costs by creating a combined AKD/sociology club, where anyone could participate in meetings or community activities, but only those meeting the requirements of AKD could have the "honors" distinction and additional resources.
Benefits of Alpha Kappa Delta - Sociology Honors Society
Now to the benefits of AKD. I am constantly suggesting to students involved in sociology clubs and departments that they need to either join an AKD chapter or organize one of their own. I would also suggest that instructors provide their students with AKD as a tool. If our goal is to put resources in the hands of students, AKD is a great place to begin for many reasons. Here I will present the two biggest ways that I used AKD as a professional resource, and then briefly describe a few other benefits.
1. Student-Member Travel Grants - At UNCo our chapter of AKD applied for conference funding at least twice while I was in attendance. The application is relatively easy and if your chapter has at least 4 members presenting research at a qualifying conference then the funding can be up to $1200. Our organization used that money to pay for hotel rooms that we shared amongst groups attending the conferences. You can read more about thoughts on students attending conferences here, but the main point is that they are important to professional development.
2. AKD Teaching and Learning Workshop at a Regional Sociology Conference - Also while at UNCO, I applied for AKD's Teaching and Learning Fellowship. This is a small monetary award to assist those with a vested interest in teaching sociology with travel expenses to qualifying conferences where pre-conference symposiums were hosted. I was awarded this fellowship as just a first year graduate student and sitting at these tables with a wide range of professional teachers really gave me an idea of who I was as an instructor, and gave me a bunch of resources to improve.
3. Additional Resources - In addition to the above benefits, there are also AKD resources that I never tapped into. A couple of these that I suggest to students are the paper competitions and symposium funding offered by AKD. First, AKD offers graduate and undergraduate paper awards of up to $1000 dollars. The organization also offers chapters a chance of up to $500 dollars to sponsor a research symposium or workshop. I think that both of these options offer students valuable experience.
Why I tell my Students to get involved with AKD
My philosophy is that we should be giving students resources and providing them with the skills to solve problems. Whether we are designing a large-scale research project, or if we are starting a non-profit organization, we all need to figure out ways to get around hurdles, find economic support, and apply for resources.
AKD provides a relatively user-friendly organizational model that allows students to get the experience of submitting grant proposals, managing budgets, and working in teams, all with the realistic chance of being awarded monetary resources that can be used to help develop young sociologists. So many awards and academic accomplishments emphasize individual excellence, but AKD is one place where some community-incentive is offered for hard work and organization.