UGA faculty and graduate students will come together for a March 24 colloquium focused on integrating the university’s research and teaching missions. The event will be held from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center on Riverbend Road.
Provost Arnett C. Mace Jr. and David Williams, director of the Honors Program, will convene the colloquium, which was proposed by Fredric Dolezal, an English professor and member of the UGA Teaching Academy. Pamela Kleiber, coordinator of UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, organized the committee that planned the half-day event. Sponsors for the colloquium include the Honors Program, CURO, the Teaching Academy, the Institute of Higher Education, the Office of Instructional Support and Development and the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.
“The goals of the colloquium are to allow faculty and students to share and inspire one another in moving toward inquiry-based learning, as well as to integrate the two fundamental missions of teaching and research,” says Williams.
“One of the most important things we do as educators is to cultivate critical thinking. Research projects are a very effective way of doing this.”
Two panels composed of faculty from a variety of academic disciplines will stimulate discussion of what constitutes research, how that influences teaching inside and outside the classroom, and how undergraduate students can become engaged in research in various teaching formats. The panels will be led by Betty Jean Craige, director of the Center for Humanities and Arts and a professor of comparative literature, and Marcus Fechheimer, professor and interim head of the department of cellular biology.
“Students who engage in research profit by development of critical thinking and problem solving skills, persistence, a sense of independence and self-confidence derived from accomplishment,” says Fechheimer. “This type of colloquium is important, because it draws us together as a community to explore goals and challenges that are shared by multiple departments, schools and colleges at the university. It is hoped that general findings about problems, policies, programmatic recommendations and examples of best practices will emerge from the two panel discussions.”
Participants in the first panel are Nancy Felson, professor of classics; Maureen Grasso, dean of the Graduate School; William Kisaalita, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering; Jessica Kissinger, assistant professor of genetics; Jerry Legge, professor and associate dean in the School of Public and International Affairs; and David Saltz, associate professor and department head of theater and film studies.
Participants on the second panel include Peggy Brickman, assistant professor of biological sciences; Christy Desmet, associate professor of English; Katherine Kipp, associate professor of psychology; Rosemary Phelps, professor of counseling psychology and human services; Douglas Toma, associate professor in UGA’s Institute of Higher Education; and Katie Folkman, Honors undergraduate researcher in genetics.
Inquiry-based learning at UGA is not a new concept. More and more students connect with faculty to engage in research projects and present their creative and scholarly works at the annual CURO symposium at UGA or regional conferences such as the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. UGA also actively participates in the research work and programs of the Reinvention Center at Stony Brook (www.sunysb.edu/Reinventioncenter), a national center studying the undergraduate education offered at research universities. It was created after the release of the 1998 Boyer Commission Report, which challenged research universities, in particular, to share their vast intellectual resources with their undergraduate populations through innovative programs promoting inquiry, investigation and discovery.
UGA has been an early leader in such undergraduate research initiatives with CURO’s apprenticeship and summer research fellowship programs, the online Journal for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (JURO@GA), and other campus-wide research programs like the Undergraduate Research Initiative in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences or summer undergraduate research opportunities with faculty in the life sciences or mathematics.
“Inside Stories,” a video series of interviews with humanities scholars, is another outlet for undergraduate students to understand the research process from inspiration to product.
“Students who carry out a research project they have designed take a justifiable pride in having created new knowledge,” says UGA political scientist Charles Bullock, who encourages his social science students to conduct research projects, leading to publishable papers or networking opportunities with potential employers. “I suspect that even when the research simply reinforces what the student has been exposed to in lectures and readings, finding support for the general propositions in their own research makes the ideas more memorable and meaningful.”
The colloquium will be videotaped by the Office of Instructional Support and Development and will be available for viewing online at www.isd.uga.edu.
Faculty and graduate students planning to attend should register with Rebecca Ritter (firstname.lastname@example.org). Optional tours of the CCRC will be scheduled at the close of the colloquium.