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Spring 2018 Research Courses

Scroll down to learn more about the many options you have for your Spring 2018 research course. After learning about your choices, return to this page starting October 10 and fill out the form below to rank your course preferences!
Theatre Research 360 asks three main questions: 

• Why do people do theatre? 
• What does it mean to do theatre? 
• What impact does theatre have on society? 

In this course, we answer these questions EXPERIENTIALLY as well as cognitively. We see three professional productions in Washington, D.C., and interview people involved with making them -- such as an actor, producer, designer, director or playwright. Next we discuss and analyze the plays. Then, we research and write our own plays – inspired by and re-making the plays we saw. And finally, we perform excerpts of these plays for the end of year AU Scholars Research Conference. Whether you are a theatre lover or a theatre novice, whether you are super shy or a super extrovert, you are welcomed to participate in this highly collaborative learning experience.
Religion is an important, though often misunderstood, dimension in international affairs: religious organizations are often powerful advocates for particular policies, and religious dynamics often underlie cultural relations within and between states. This spring research experience helps students develop their knowledge of religion as a factor in international politics by employing social scientific methods to produce case studies. Students will work in small teams on projects that focus on an informative case through which the international significance of religion is clearly visible. Examples might include the Vatican's involvement in the United Nations climate negotiations, the role of Buddhist extremists in Myanmar's ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people, the efforts of faith-based organizations in the United States and Europe to address the refugee crisis, etc.
Students will explore the philosophical foundations and institutional constraints of the International Criminal Court.
We will investigate where and how food is grown in Costa Rica, compare agroecological practices to industrial- and small-scale conventional farming practices, and the effects of food production on the health of the natural environment including coastal (i.e., reef) and forest (i.e. canopy) ecosystems. Students will work in small research teams to develop and carry out projects that will lead to web-based outcomes (i.e., some combination of videos, photographs, text, reports, or infographics) that tell stories about sustainable farming in Costa Rica. A key feature of this course will be a week-long field research trip to Costa Rica during AU’s spring break. Leading up to the trip, we will meet weekly to examine the recent history of Costa Rica and Costa Rica's natural resources, current environmental concerns and sustainability goals. Students will also acquire relevant tools of research and hear from experts to aid in project development. Upon return, the students will complete their projects for presentation at the AU Scholars Symposium.
Students will choose an aspect of their interest surrounding chemical weapons and delve deeply into it by conducting independent bibliographic research. Sources will included scholarly articles and lay press, possibly coupled with interviews of experts in the field or the analysis of social media. 

By way of example, possible broad areas of interest might include: 
  • the development and/or the deployment of a specific chemical weapon; 
  • the development of pharmacological countermeasures for chemical weapons; 
  • the development of analytical techniques for the detection of chemical weapons; 
  • the environmental impact of the production, deployment, and/or the disposal of chemical weapons; 
  • the history of chemical weapons programs of specific countries; 
  • the challenges inherent to the implementation of international treaties for the control of chemical weapons.
Approximately 35 countries in the world have policies that require corporations to include a certain percentage of women on their governing boards or prioritize gender in their selection processes. This course will consider the conditions under which countries adopt these quotas and the relationship between quotas for corporate boards and quotas for legislatures. Students will conduct a group research project looking at the process of adoption (how the policies were framed and debated, who advocated for them and how they mobilized their supporters, how the opposition responded, etc.) and what the effect of these quotas has been on gender equality in the countries that have adopted them.
Where was the concept of Earth Day conceived? Where have significant global leaders including President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Dr. Albert Sabin gathered to plan for positive change? Where have several movies including Fly Away Home been filmed? Answer: The Airlie Center.

In 2016, American University was gifted The Airlie Center and we will be using it for our research in producing several short historical mini-docs for possible use at Airlie, on websites or for the upcoming 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. This spring immerse yourself in an exciting adventure in history, photography, research, writing, storytelling, audio and music, directing, producing and editing as we produce several historical documentary shorts.

More information needed? Take a look at the timeline of significant events that have occurred at Airlie https://www.airlie.com/about/timeline and the announcement of the gift of Airlie Center to American University http://www.american.edu/media/news/20160914-Airlie-Announcement.cfm

This research course provides students with a unique opportunity to conduct field research on current migrant issues in the United States and the crisis in Europe. Students will investigate the cultural, structural and social factors that inform the patterns, lived experiences, and policies towards migrants in both the United States and European contexts. In addition to qualitative analysis, participants will seek out migrant communities in DC to discuss their lived experiences of migration, and the policies which have affected them. Students will then travel to Brussels, Belgium, the headquarters of the European Union, over Spring Break to explore these themes through site visits, lectures, and interviews with policymakers, nonprofit organizations, and scholars. Through this research course, students will learn how to frame a relevant research question, formulate an appropriate research design, carry out a qualitative field research project, and present their findings. 
Whether you are interested in US immigration policy, current conflicts in the Africa and the Middle East, or the economic, social, or security implications of the mass migration in to Europe, this course will help to put all of these issues in to a global and historical context. Background in migration or European studies not required but an open mind is! Course fee: $3,200

Spring 2018 Class Times (tentative)

  • Theatre Research 360: T, 2:30-5:20pm
  • Religion in International Affairs: M 11:20am-2:10pm
  • The ICC Examined: W, 2:30-5:20pm
  • Sustainable Farming: T, 11:20am-2:10pm
  • Learning More about Chemical Weapons: T, 2:30-5:20pm
  • Gender Quotas for Corporate Boards: W, 11:20am-2:10pm
  • Historical Documentary Filmmaking: W, 8:10-10:40am
  • Human Migration: T, 11:20am-2:10pm