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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Community of Scholars?

The Community of Scholars is a unique cross-disciplinary enterprise of 18-20 Wofford College undergraduate students conducting independent research during 10 weeks of the summer on the Wofford campus. Student Fellows conduct their research under the supervision of one of the 10 Faculty Mentors, hereafter called Faculty Fellows who are themselves engaged in research parallel to or coincident with the projects of the Student Fellows.
Researchers in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences create a community of scholars by meeting frequently, often over meals, to discuss their individual projects and issues of mutual interest. Research Fellows benefit from cross-disciplinary interactions and collaborative thinking.

How did the Community of Scholars originate?

Recognizing that, as with all efforts to advance human knowledge and understanding, scholarly pursuits should be both individual and communal, focused in their disciplinary concentration but alert to connections to and parallels with research in other fields, the College created a unique cross-disciplinary Community of Scholars in the summers on our campus.

What is the purpose of the Community of Scholars?

The purpose is to encourage undergraduate research in a setting that recognizes and exploits the virtues of collaboration and conversation among researchers pursuing projects in a wide variety of fields at a liberal arts college.

What are the dates for the 2010 Community of Scholars?

The 10 week COS program coincides with Wofford’s Summer School Sessions (June 7 –  August 13, 2010.)

What’s unique about Wofford’s Community of Scholars?

Top-tier liberal arts institutions offer intensive and sophisticated research opportunities for their students. Like every good liberal arts college, Wofford has long sought to encourage undergraduate research, some of which has been funded through grants by foundations or federal agencies made directly to professors who have in turn employed students as junior assistants. Wofford has created a unique program wherein undergraduates are free to propose independent projects which they conduct under the guidance of a Faculty Fellow whose expertise and interests enhance the experience for the Student Fellow.
What sets this program apart from any other program in the nation involving undergraduate research is its vigorous cross-disciplinary dialogue and emphasis on “community.” Faculty and Student Fellows engage in vigorous discussions fostered by frequent gatherings at which Fellows address issues of mutual interest as well as the challenges and triumphs of their own individual projects. Fellows conducting research in science benefit from questions posed by their peers in the humanities and social sciences. Likewise, in explaining their findings to scientists and responding to questions posed by those less familiar with the discipline, researchers in humanities and the social sciences may discover new ways to look at their own work. Thus, these frequent interactions promote critical thinking and the development of presentation skills. Those skills are indispensable in today’s rapidly changing world where current mastery of any subject may be obsolete within a very short period. The outcome of these regular events should be a clearer understanding of the fundamentals of knowledge in different disciplines and a firmer grasp on how such knowledge can be best communicated.
“Community” emerges as scholars participation in these discussions, formal and informal, over regularly scheduled lunches and dinners and gatherings for coffee each week. Active involvement in these community events is essential to the success of the program and those who are not interested in or committed to the development of this community are advised to seek other sources of funding for their summer research.

What is required of Student and Faculty Fellows?

1) All Fellows will pursue their independent research and strengthen the community by participating in scheduled events such as lunches, dinners, coffees, and other social events that provide opportunites for sharing the problems and progress of their individual research.
2) Fellows are expected to contribute to formal discussions of topics of general interest based on texts especially selected for this group of scholars.
3) At the end of the summer term, Student and Faculty Fellows will prepare presentations to be shared with members of the community, invited guests including college administrators and representatives funding agencies.  This Research Symposium will feature reseach posters and concurrent oral presentations. 
4) Projects are to be summarized in written form suitable for the lay reader and in concise format appropriate for the academic discipline. These documents are to be submitted to the Director during the last week of the program.
5) In addition to encouraging publication and presentation in scholarly journals and at meetings of academic professional societies, Fellows will be scheduled to present their work during a Saturday Symposium during the regular academic semester. Thus, the obligation to the Community of Scholars extends into the following academic year and a portion of the stipen will be withhelp until the commitment is fulfilled. 
6) Fellows will also contribute abstracts and reports for campus publications celebrating and encouraging a culture of undergraduate research at Wofford College.

What is the relationship of Faculty Fellows to Student Fellows?

Faculty Fellows pursue their individual research interests in humanities, sciences and/or social sciences while mentoring 1-3 Student Fellows who conduct their own independent research projects. Teams of Faculty and Student Fellows should meet frequently to discuss the progress of their work. Faculty Fellows should provide sufficient guidance to assure the productivity of their Student Fellows.

What’s new for the Community of Scholars 2010?

Fellows will attend and contribute to formal text-based round-table discussions on matters of great topical significance and for which notable guests will invited.  Some of these events may be open to the entire college and broader community.
Student Fellows are expected to prepare for, attend, and contribute to all roundtable discussions. 

In consideration of the extensive time allocated mentoring their Student Research Fellows that takes them away from their own research projects, Faculty Fellows will not be expected to particiate in every roundtable discussion, although they are certainly welcomed and encouraged to do so.  Once the summer schedule has been established, the number of roundtable discussions required of Faculty Fellows will be announced.

It is hoped that some research teams will exploit the expertise of collaborators at other institutions, taking advantage of the internet’s capacity for creating and maintaining virtual communities.

Funds are available for small groups of Student and Faculty Fellows to schedule lunches and dinners to encourage and promote greater interaction among the Fellows. Fellows may use these occasions to invite guests who could contribute intellectually to their projects, thereby gaining from these discussions and simultaneously spreading the impact of the Community of Scholars.

What types of projects are appropriate for COS work?

Topics range widely across the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. To foster cross-disciplinary interactions that are the pivotal to the program, we seek participants with a wide range of interests.  Projects should consist of original research.  Limitations in funding and scope prevent the Community of Scholars from including projects that are primarily service-oriented or artistic in nature.

See the links on the COS website for a listing of projects and participants from previous years.

What is expected of Faculty Fellows?

The Faculty Fellow must commit to full-time work for at least 9 of the 10 weeks between June 7 and August 13, 2010. The equivalent of up to one week is allowed for a Faculty Fellow to attend conferences or other activities considered professional development. While a member of the Community of Scholars, Faculty mentors may not teach summer school classes, have other regular employment or obligations that would restrict their participation on Community of Scholars activities and events. A Faculty Fellow will assume responsibility for conducting his or her project and for participating in all of the meetings, discussions, conferences, and workshops that may be scheduled for the Community of Scholars. Faculty Fellows will work closely with from one to three Student Fellows, guiding their work and assisting them in conducting their research. Student Fellows will usually be conducting research independent of the research of their mentors, but faculty may also work with students as a collaborative team. Student Fellows may not function chiefly as research assistants for faculty projects. A Faculty Fellow must arrange for his or her Student Fellows to receive any supervision or support needed in their absence. A Faculty Fellow should assist their Student Fellows as they prepare presentations for the Reseach Symposia and other events.

What is expected of Student Fellows?

Students must commit to full-time work for at least 9 of the 10 weeks between June 7 and August 13, 2010 during which time they are expected to reside in the Wofford Village Apartments.  The equivalent of up to one week is allowed for a Student Fellow to attend conferences or other activities involving academic work.  Vacations should be scheduled so as not to interfere with COS work. The applicant will assume responsibility for conducting his or her project and for seeking advice from his or her faculty Mentor and other Faculty Fellows.
Student Fellows are expected to participate in all of the community events throughout the summer, complete all written assignments, and present at the Research Symposia and other venues as requested.
While a member of the Community of Scholars, Student Fellows may not take summer school classes or have other employment or obligations or vacations that would restrict their participation in Community of Scholars activities and events.

What if I have other obligations during the COS program?

If a Fellow accepts a 10 week fellowship, there is the possibility to be away from the community for no more than one week to engage in professional development. Otherwise, it is expected that Fellows will devote their full attention to COS work and activities. This would preclude participation in summer camps, summer school, other employment, or extended time away for vacation. Vacations should be scheduled so as not to conflict with participation in COS work and activities.
Special circumstances should be discussed with the Director in advance.

How are the results of COS work to be shared?

Fellows are encouraged to present at professional meetings and everyone will be scheduled to participate in the Research Symposia to be held on campus at the end of the summer program and during the academic semester. In addition, participants may be asked to share their experiences in COS by presenting at workshops and conferences. By sharing their research, Fellows are supporting the goal of more widely disseminating the COS as a model of interdisciplinary undergraduate research under faculty mentorship to be adopted by other academic institutions.

What are the Research Symposia?

These events, which may be scheduled to coincide with an Admissions Office event, are designed to 1) draw attention to undergraduate and faculty research at Wofford College, 2) allow COS Fellows a venue to present their findings, 3) enhance recruitment of prospective students to Wofford College and as prospective Student Fellows, and 4) bring a prominent person to campus to speak during a plenary session on a topic of general interest and great importance.  Research Symposia replicate the format employed for sharing research by many academic organizations.
Concurrent sessions will be held in the classrooms of Main Building for “slide talks” of approximately 15 minutes each (12 minutes for the presentation, 3 minutes for questions) and a “poster” session for those whose work is more suited to that format.

What is the stipend for Faculty Fellows?

Each faculty fellow receives a stipend of $5000 for the 10 week period spanning June 7st to August 13th.  A portion of the stipend ($250) will paid upon the completion of a presentation during the Research Symposium scheduled during the academic semester.

What is the stipend for Student Fellows?

Each Student Fellow will receive a $3000 stipend for the 10 week fellowship. In addition, Student Fellows will be housed together in the Wofford Village Apartments. A meal plan is not included. Students Fellows may purchase one of the cafeteria meal plans if they wish. A portion of the stipend ($250) will be withheld until the StudentFellow has honored the commitment to present at the Research Symposia.

What about additional funds for research expenses?

There are limited funds available for expenses associated with research. For example, one may need to purchase books and/or documents and pay for photocopies or travel costs. Generally, expenses should not exceed several hundred dollars per project although it is anticipated that some projects will be more costly. For example, research in the sciences may require in excess of $1000 for laboratory animals and supplies. A projected budget is to be submitted as a part of each application.  If no budget is submitted, it will be assumed that no funds are needed.  Limited funds will permit only partial reimbursement for travel by personal car for COS-related work.

How are research teams formed?

Prospective Faculty Fellows are encouraged recruit those students that they’d like to mentor.
Prospective Student Fellows should seek faculty who have the expertise to assist with their research plans.
The Director can facilitate the matching of interested faculty with interested students. Prospective Student Fellows should provide a brief description of the research under consideration. Interested faculty should do likewise and might also list areas of expertise in which they would be prepared to serve as a faculty mentor.

How are Student Fellows selected?

Student proposals should be developed in consultation with a faculty member or members under whose guidance the student will pursue the research. Student Fellows will be selected by the Coordinating Committee of the Community of Scholars. Selection of Student Fellows is based on the academic qualifications of the applicant, on the strength and promise of the proposed project, the recommendation of the faculty Mentor, and a judgment of the applicant’s likely contributions to the Community of Scholars. Selections are influenced by the need to create a group of Scholars that encompasses a wide range of academic disciplines to foster the interdisciplinary dialogues that are unique this this program.

How are Faculty Fellows Selected?

Faculty Fellows will be selected by the Coordinating Committee of the Community of Scholars. Selection of faculty mentors is based on the academic and teaching qualifications of the applicant, the strength of the proposed project, and a judgment of the applicant’s likely contributions to the Community of Scholars. Faculty who served as mentors in previous years may apply for 2010.

How do I apply?

Separate applications for Faculty and Student Fellowships are found on the Community of Scholars website.  Presently, these documents are in MS Word format so that applicants may begin work on their proposals.  The final application forms are expected to be availabe on-line for electronic submission by February 2010.
Student proposals should be developed in consultation with their intended faculty mentor. Student applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member qualified to comment on their abilities and work ethic.

When are applications due?

Completed proposals with supporting documents (budget, letters of reference, etc) are due Friday 26 February 2010 by 2pm in electronic format submitted to davisgr@wofford.edu.

When will I be notified if I have been accepted?

Recipients will be notified as soon as possible once the Selection Committee has made their selections. This will probably be in mid-March, 2010.

How do I obtain more information?

Dr. G.R. Davis is the Director of the Community of Scholars for 2010. Contact him at davisgr@wofford.edu or 864-597-4621 or at his office in the Biology Suite on the second floor of Milliken Science Hall.