FTT Major Receives ISLA Grant for International Research

Author: FTT Department

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When asked why someone should study FTT, Julia Warden ‘24, FTT (film concentration) & Business Analytics double-major, says that it is more than studying film - that it is studying people and how they interact with each other and society. For Warden, this is a key component of her senior thesis research and future career.

The research topic that Warden has honed in on for her senior thesis meets at the crossroads of both of her majors and takes a look at business strategies that themed entertainment companies utilize to bring in target audiences, as well as related geopolitical, societal, and economic implications that are interconnected with consumer preference and pop culture. This project takes a special focus on growing markets in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. Warden remarks that this focus comes from both a passion for traveling, as well as a way to challenge her to explore and learn from new cultures to expand her academic and personal horizons.

“My family is from Croatia and I am familiar with the culture I was raised with, and was interested in learning about a completely different culture,” says Warden.

In an effort to gain first hand experience researching for this project, Warden pursued, and was awarded, a grant through the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts to travel to Hong Kong and South Korea in May of 2023. With the guidance of her senior thesis advisor, Dr. Tarryn Chun, Assistant Professor in FTT, Warden not only applied for the research grant, but also completed the IRB approval process to be able to use interviews she conducted while abroad in her research.

When asked about her experience doing research abroad, Warden remarked that “...it was amazing. Not only was it so much fun, it was such a great learning opportunity,” adding, “of course I did surveys while I was in Korea, from which I gathered quantitative data to analyze, and I gained more than I realized from interacting with others and seeing how they reacted to what I shared about my life…It’s much more than the senior thesis that you learn from, it’s being abroad and understanding foreign cultures.”

“Writing a thesis has been an exciting challenge in many ways and having an advisor that is deeply knowledgeable in my area of focus has enhanced my critical thinking,” says Warden, “when I seem to hit a dead end, she always knows how to prompt me to think differently.”

When asked what advice she has for students looking to pursue similar opportunities for international research, Warden said “I would recommend asking for help when you need it, because at first it feels like it might not be possible at all, or it seems like a big, overwhelming task, but really once you start to get in the groove of things you realize there are so many wonderful supportive people willing to help.” She also adds that “professors have done this many times, so they really are the best people to ask.”

When it comes to the senior thesis process as a whole, Warden says that she could not be happier with her experience, saying that “It’s been perfect and I really don’t have anything negative to say whatsoever.” Warden adds that “My advisor, Professor Chun, has been really supportive and always comes up with new questions to challenge me and consider new ways of thinking about trends. I have really learned a lot from her - not just with reasoning and understanding, but also with writing and organizing.”

She also mentions how beneficial working with Dr. Olivier Morel, Associate Professor in FTT & Director of the Senior Thesis Program in FTT, has been, “...there is a group of six of us working on the senior thesis that meet all together with Professor Morel, and he has been encouraging in helping us find the resources we need outside of FTT.”

Warden also adds that she would recommend pursuing a senior thesis for students considering it, noting, “...I would definitely recommend it. Finding the right advisor for your project is crucial and it has been for mine," says Warden, “I’ve noticed that the projects for FTT students have been so creative and original, and that everybody is really excited to be working on a passion project. The ideas are incredibly self-driven.”

Lastly, we asked Warden how her FTT major has benefited her both academically, and moving forward into her professional career, to which she says “I would really like to pursue a career in strategy consulting, or consulting in general…but I really want a job that pushes me to come up with new solutions, strategize, and think differently; I also want a job that allows me to meet different people from all over the world. My film major has helped me understand diverse experiences and backgrounds, and recognize that, even though we are all different, we are all trying to do the best we can,” says Warden, also adding that “...film provides ways we can all connect, even across different ways of doing so and in different regions of the world. We can all empathize with the same messages.”

Lastly, Warden adds,“Plus, it’s a lot of fun! I really love my film major.”


We would like to thank Julia for sitting down with us to discuss her experience, as well as congratulate her on such a wonderful achievement!