Phi Beta Cons

Is This a Spoof, or Real Academic Scholarship?

Below is a title and abstract for a Ph.D. dissertation. Is this real, or is it a spoof?

Smart Cookies: The Gendered Spaces of Labor, Citizenship, and Nationalism in the Girl Scout Cookie Sale


Each year thousands of Girl Scouts sell cookies to friends, family, and neighbors to raise money for their troops and local councils. Lauded as the largest girl-led financial literacy program, the annual Girl Scout cookie sale not only teaches girls important business and leadership skills but also prepares girls for their roles as American women in a neoliberal and capitalist society. Girls learn the importance of ‘giving’ through multiple spaces of the cookie sale. Scouts learn to give and care for others under the veil of market capitalism, neoliberalism, and American nationalism, which seeks to reproduce hegemonic gender roles regarding labor, education, and citizenship. Based on a two-year study on the Girl Scout cookie sale, using qualitative methods and rooted in feminist methodologies, this project seeks to understand how ’spaces of giving’ emerge in the cookie sale and how these spaces shape social constructions of gender, citizenship, and national identity.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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