Undergraduate research expands boundaries of learning

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Why has violence so often been a political tool of choice inNorthern Ireland?

Can dominant tamarin cotton-top monkeys repress the reproductive development of subordinate monkeys?

How can the media tactics employed by John F. Kennedy in his 1960 bid for the presidency help the next Catholic presidential candidate?

Have the Ukrainian elections really changed the lives of average citizens there?

Some 20 Notre Dame undergraduate students are forgoing typical jobs this summer to delve into these and other topics through research projects that will take them around the world to seek the answers.

Armed with a healthy dose of intellectual curiosity and grants from theCollegeofArtsand LettersUndergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), students funded for this summers UROP program represent a cross-section of disciplines. Winning proposals came from the departments of political science, anthropology, art, Russian, theology, history, music, economics, Italian and the program of liberal studies.

Created in 1993 by the colleges Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, UROP offers two kinds of financial support to undergraduates for independent research and creative projects: Research and materials grants, awarded throughout the academic year, provide up to $1,500 for materials, supplies, travel and other needs.Summer fellowships, up to $3,600 for three months, allow students to concentrate on projects without having to hold summer jobs.

UROP experiences expose undergraduates to the entire process of conducting research – from writing the proposal and preparing a budget, to conducting the research and summarizing the findings in a written report or presentation.Any Arts and Letters undergraduate who is in good academic standing can apply, and neither a specific grade point average nor extensive research experience in the chosen field is required, making the awards accessible to a broad group of students.

Some of this summers research projects will explore:

  • The use of violence in the conflict inNorthern Ireland.Junior Patrick Corrigan will conduct research at thePeaceBuildingand Conflict Transformation Institute inNorthern Irelandand write a thesis on the choice of groups to use violence as a strategic option.
  • Religious practices and their relation to sexuality.Senior Anna Catherine Nussbaum will conduct a series of interviews with women and men from diverse spiritual backgrounds, ages, classes and sexual orientations, and based on her findings, will write a play about religion and sex that could be performed as a fundraiser for victims of sexual violence.
  • Media tactics employed by Kennedy in 1960.At the John F. Kennedy Library inMassachusetts, Senior Michelle McCarthy will analyze transcripts and memos from Kennedys campaign advisers regarding religion in the 1960 election, and try to determine the viability of a Catholic candidate in the current political climate.Based on her research, McCarthy will formulate a campaign strategy for future Catholic candidates seeking the presidency.
  • The dying art oflilting- a traditional Irish music form that has been largely ignored in academic study.Philip Carl Smith, a junior – and himself a lilter — will conduct research at the Irish Traditional Music Archive inDublin, interview and tape-record lilters, and actually compete for theAll Irelandtitle in lilting.

More information about the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program is available at www.nd.edu/~isla .

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