Undergraduate research is what education is ultimately about—not merely the comprehension of knowledge or the application of book knowledge in the real world but the creation of new knowledge, the discovery of new ways of understanding, the creation of new forms of expression, and the innovation of new forms of practice.
At AU, we don’t limit undergraduate research to any one kind of field. It describes science students working in their professor’s lab, social science students collecting and analyzing their own data or working with faculty on theirs, and humanities students pursuing independent reading and producing original insight. It describes artists and students in such professional fields as business and communications producing professional-level work. Students can co-author articles with faculty, present at professional conferences, and collaborate with government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations.
Common to all these examples is the conviction that research moves students along on a path from consumers to producers of knowledge. Independent inquiry can lead to original contributions to a field of knowledge.
Undergraduate research is perhaps the first among equals in the influential list of high-impact educational practices made by George Kuh. The other high-impact practices are first-year seminars and experiences; common intellectual experiences; learning communities; writing-intensive courses; collaborative assignments and projects; diversity/global learning; service learning and community-based learning; internships; and capstone courses and projects.
The mission of the Center for Undergraduate Research (CFUR) is to promote and support undergraduate research, scholarship, creative, and professional activity in every major on campus. We collaborate with and promote the undergraduate research efforts that have been led for years by the schools, the College, and Undergraduate Studies as well as AU Abroad; Campus Life; the Center for Community Engagement and Learning; the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning; the Office of Merit Awards; the University Library; and the Writing Center.
We help students find faculty mentors and help faculty find student research assistants. We provide grant money to students to do research, to travel, and to present at conferences, and we help students find other on- and off-campus funds and research opportunities. We direct students to courses and workshops that help them build the skills they need to pursue independent research, and we help faculty incorporate research skill-building exercises into their courses. Student CFUR Ambassadors serve as peer mentors and speak to students about independent inquiry. We promote and support a community of student researchers in the academic year as well as in the summer.
The Center for Undergraduate Research helps students move closer to being colleagues with faculty, partners in the creation of new knowledge and innovation.