TAMU Faculty present at the Council on Undergraduate Research Biennial Conference

Dr. Sarah M. Misemer (Glasscock Center for Humanities Research), Dr. Valerie Balester (University Writing Center), and Dr. Duncan MacKenzie (LAUNCH) lead a panel presentation at the recent Council on Undergraduate Research Biennial Conference in Tampa, Florida. They discussed “Collaborative Undergraduate Humanities Research through Summer Seminars and Writing Communities.”

Presentation Abstract:
“In contrast to STEM disciplines at large research universities, undergraduate research in the humanities faces unique challenges: limited space and financial support, emphasis on individual scholarship, and restricted faculty availability in the summer. At Texas A&M only 6% of graduating senior humanities majors indicate that they have participated in faculty-mentored independent research compared to 15-25% of graduates in STEM colleges. In an effort to foster broader participation and greater visibility for undergraduate research in the humanities we have developed an innovative research program modeled on National Endowment for the Humanities seminars. Following two-week, intensive seminars around a common theme led by faculty in early summer, groups of 2-5 students develop independent research proposals. Students then transition into our established undergraduate research thesis program (traditionally dominated by STEM disciplines) and complete a formal research thesis and public presentation during the academic year. To support these collaborative groups of students addressing related research topics, we established a partnership among three campus programs: The Glasscock Center for the Humanities contributed space to build research communities, access to research-active faculty, and endowment support; the Undergraduate Research office provided structure for students to complete the formal research thesis; and the University Writing Center conducted summer writing studios to help students clarify their research questions and develop formal oral and written research proposals. In this presentation we will discuss pedagogical, cultural, legal, funding, and logistical challenges that were resolved during development of this program. By increasing the number of humanities theses completed, the Glasscock Summer Scholars program has successfully increased the visibility of humanities research on campus, positively impacted career plans of students as well as scholarly productivity of faculty, and provided a model for integrating diverse campus resources to promote undergraduate humanities research.”