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Wofford creates innovative student research program

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College is creating an innovative, cross-disciplinary program of undergraduate student research.

The Wofford College Community of Scholars program is designed to foster collegiality through a 10-week summer program and to create cross-disciplinary dialogue among students and faculty conducting research in the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.

“This emphasis on community will stress the common ground in all disciplines while exploring different subjects and methodologies,” according to Wofford’s president, Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap. “To have faculty and students engaged in peer-to-peer dialogue is itself laudable, but to have scientists, humanists and social scientists caught up in a sustained and collaborative commitment to research is truly innovative in its effort to bridge what C.P. Snow so famously described as ‘the two cultures.’”

The undergraduate research fellows will pursue their research projects on campus during the summer, working under the supervision of faculty mentors engaged in parallel or related research.

The research projects will include a variety of disciplines, including science, the humanities, the social sciences and the fine arts. Early each fall semester, a public presentation will allow the fellows to summarize their projects. Abstracts will be collected each year for publication.

“Wofford College is the ideal place for an innovative research program such as the Community of Scholars,” Dr. Dan B. Maultsby, dean of the college, says. “The strength of our pre-med and science programs is well known, as is the distinction of our humanities disciplines, but in recent years, Wofford has been widely recognized as a national leader in the development of interdisciplinary learning communities. A number of those learning communities have successfully combined science and the humanities.”

Maultsby notes Wofford’s recent inclusion in the Project DEEP (Documenting Effective Educational Practices). Wofford was among 20 colleges selected to participate in the first Project DEEP study in 2002-03, conducted by the Center for Post Secondary Educational Research at Indiana University-Bloomington to determine why certain campuses score exceptionally well on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

At Wofford, “the spirit of collaboration evidenced in administrative matters, among students working on group projects and engaging in group study in and outside of class, and via community events, provides rich conditions for active and collaborative learning,” the report says.

“Wofford has long been admired for curriculum innovation, as evidenced by our highly successful Interim term, our Success Initiative, our Novel Experience first-year reading program and other programs,” Maultsby says.

Students will be selected for the Wofford College Community of Scholars program by a faculty committee based on proposals and faculty recommendations. Twenty students will be selected in the program’s first year, and the number of students will increase in subsequent years as more funding is acquired.