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SIS Expands Undergraduate Research Opportunities

SIS students participated in the National Conference for Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse in 2013.

SIS students participated in the National Conference for Undergraduate Research at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse in 2013.


While research has been an integral part of SIS for over 15 years, 2012 – 2013 has seen a spike in activities highlighting undergraduate work.

Professor Aaron Boesenecker has coordinated the undergraduate research initiatives since 2011, working with students on the annual undergraduate research symposium and, escorting SIS undergraduates to the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which in 2013 was held at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

But with the recent changes in the undergraduate curriculum, particularly the addition of a second course to complement the introductory course in international studies research, “one of our key aims this year was to expand the breadth and the depth of undergraduate research in the overall SIS undergraduate experience,” in addition to the symposium and conference opportunities, Boesenecker said.

Two of those initiatives have been a student/faculty/alumni roundtable on undergraduate research, and the first annual International Affairs Undergraduate Research Conference.

“We announced at the conference SIS’s launch of a new global international affairs undergraduate research journal – International Affairs Quarterly, open to undergraduates from AU’s campus and beyond,” Boesenecker said. “This is a first-of-its-kind venture, as there is not currently a peer-reviewed and professionally-edited journal for undergraduate research on international affairs.”

SIS’s Canyon Bosler, SIS/BA ’13, was one of 20 undergraduate students from George Washington, Georgetown and American Universities participating in the D.C.-area conference, and was honored for his work there and at the SIS Undergraduate Research Symposium. He also was one of six SIS students to attend NCUR, presenting on “Access to Credit and Migration: Complements or Substitutes?”

“Research skills are by far the most useful and marketable skills I have developed while in college,” Bosler said. “Knowing how to find the answer to a question is much more important than knowing a set of facts, theories, or models.”

Bosler has worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission throughout his senior year and in the fall will begin a fellowship in the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He attributes attaining these positions to his research skills, which he found are often a higher priority for employers than specific knowledge about a region or topic.

“Being a good researcher, particularly with quantitative methods, makes you very sought-after and gives you access to a wide range of possible careers.”