Water Scholar Awardee Fall 2023: Katie Wagner

"Analyzing public support for sustainable hog production in North Carolina"

Katie Wagner is a senior majoring in both international studies and political science majors with German studies as her minor at East Carolina University.

Wagner said she chose to double major in international studies with a concentration in global conflict resolution and political science because she has seen firsthand the power of effective dialogue.

“This was increasingly noticeable during the pandemic and in the climate of modern politics, and I chose my academic pathways for their opportunities to understand these events and put them into perspective,” Wagner said. “Through informed policymaking and diplomatic initiatives, I want to make the best use of my voice as a part of that positive change on the international scale.”

At the start of the fall 2023 semester, she planned to start a policy-related research project to graduate with honors in political science and meet her academic and professional goals. As she was searching for grants to back her proposal, her mentor advised her to look at the Water Resources Center. The WRC goals aligned well with her own and she decided to seek out their support, Wagner said.

The project she gained a stipend for is called: “Analyzing public support for sustainable hog production in North Carolina,” and aims to investigate public perceptions surrounding hog and pig production in North Carolina.

“Hog farming can be a highly contentious subject and rarely involves easy and open discussion, but this only emphasizes the importance of representing diverging perspectives,” Wagner said. “Through the lens of Narrative Policy Framework, my project will take a qualitative approach to the existing narratives with a specific focus on Wayne County. I hope this research will provide an objective analysis and a deeper understanding of each perspective.”

Wagner said she grew up in Wayne County, North Carolina, minutes away from farmland at any given time, and saw the industrialization of farms through the eyes of her own community. She said she wanted to choose a topic that explores a local issue. and the cultural and historical significance of agriculture presented a great opportunity.

“With the growth of controversial livestock regulations every year, I am using this project to highlight narratives and dialogue surrounding hog farming practices and policy,” Wagner said.

With the stipend granted from the WRC, Wagner said she will able to cover the costs of distributing the survey and travel associated with attending interviews, meetings, and community events. Additional funding will allow her to broaden the scope of her research by boosting online survey visibility and interactions.

The duration of this project will develop across the course of the academic year 2023 and 2024. During the fall semester of 2023, Wagner finalized her proposed methodology and developed an IRB protocol for submission and approval.

The majority of the spring semester will be spent contacting interview participants and distributing the survey among Wayne County residents, to have everything completed by the end of April. Wagner said this kind of project is something that she is interested in developing and working on in the future.

For her career path, Wagner said she can envision her academic career to be furthered at ECU.

After completing my undergraduate programs, I hope to enter the Master’s in Public Administration program at ECU,” Wagner said. “I hope to eventually work in the public sector, domestic or international, focusing on public opinion and narratives either way.”

About Me

Name: Katie Wagner

Age: 19

College: Department of Political Science

Hometown: Goldsboro, North Carolina

Bachelor of Science: Double major in international studies and political science with a minor in German studies

Future Plans

M.P.A.: Public Administration at East Carolina University

Read more about the Water Resources Center