The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (LA&PS) has launched a new initiative, now underway, that provides opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research projects directly supervised by professors.
In this inaugural year, the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence (DARE) was won by 36 student researchers. They will each receive $5,000 and will work with professors on their research projects during the summer term.
“This was a dream come true for me,” says LA&PS Dean Ananya Mukherjee-Reed. “In the course of formal and informal meetings, I repeatedly heard the aspirations of our students to become more active researchers. I am delighted that we could take this modest step. I was so inspired by the tremendous interest of our faculty colleagues and our students in getting DARE launched. I hope to see this initiative grow and become available to more of our colleagues and students.”
Politics Professor David Mutimer’s research on popular culture, particularly the intersection of video games and militarization, is one of the many DARE projects to which students applied.
“Working with an undergraduate student is a wonderful way to engage with a ‘digital native,’ who brings an almost intuitive sense of games from having grown up with them, rather than beside them,” says Mutimer. “At the same time, I can help that student see something so familiar in a new way and provide meaningful, skills-based experiential education that will be ever-more important in the knowledge economy of the present and future.”
Criminology Professor Natasha Tusikov’s research also delves into the digital.
“Working with students who are new to the research process reminds me of the importance of investigating new, complex phenomena and explaining the results in accessible, everyday language,” says Tusikov, whose project received a record number of applications. “It’s exciting to introduce a student to a new field of research, especially a dynamic and fast-changing area like the Internet of Things. Undergraduates express their passion clearly. I appreciate how they are outraged by inequalities and unfairness uncovered in research.”
Combatting inequality and inequity is also in line with Equity Studies Professor Elizabeth Brulé’s research project on Indigenizing the academy.
“DARE has been a wonderful opportunity to mentor students in pursuing their educational passions. It has also helped me articulate objectives, research methods and analysis in more practical and succinct ways – skills that will certainly contribute to my teaching practice,” says Brulé. “The undergraduate student that I am working with this summer – Larissa Crawford – is dedicated, insightful and resourceful, all of which has contributed to the success of my research.”
Crawford graduated in Spring 2018 with a double major in International Development Studies and Communication Studies.
“As a DARE research assistant, a job I absolutely love doing, I have been able to attend a number of events, one of them being the Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute, a 10-day Indigenous knowledge retreat where we went into the community and learned from the Elders and Knowledge Keepers. I’ve been able to apply all the research and learning we’ve been doing into action, and that’s really exciting,” says Crawford. “As an Indigenous person of Métis-Jamaican descent, working with a knowledgeable Métis mentor, Professor Elizabeth Brulé, and learning more about myself and my own cultural identity has been absolutely invaluable.”
For a view of the broad range of projects and the participating students, view the LA&PS DARE student gallery. To learn more about the details of the research projects, visit the DARE research projects listing.