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SIS Application for AU Summer Scholars & Artists Program


Advanced undergraduates in the School of International Service are invited to be an American University Summer Scholar & Artist for summer 2020. Scholars will receive a $4,000 payment to support research-related expenses that leads to significant scholarly or creative work. Scholars will work closely with faculty mentors in ways that enhance the research or creativity carried out by the Scholar. Faculty mentors will receive a $1,000 stipend to guide scholars through their research. Projects may be jointly conducted or authored with professors or with other students, but the project must show evidence of significant original work by the Scholar.

Scholars will receive a $4,000 payment to support research-related expenses, which may include living expenses, travel, equipment, or other expenses (to be justified in the application). Applications should reflect projects that will utilize the full funding amount. Scholars can expect to be invited to attend information sessions or workshops after receiving their payment and are encouraged to publicly present their completed work. For instance, Scholars might incorporate their work into a senior or honors capstone; they might present their work at a conference at AU or elsewhere (such as the SIS Undergraduate Research Symposium); or they might publish, display, or perform their work on or off campus. Scholars will be invited to provide a summary of their project to the Dean of their school or college and to the Dean of Undergraduate Education by the end of the calendar year. Scholars are also encouraged to participate in workshops on research sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education, CTRL, the Academic Support Center, or the University Library, and to work with the SIS Undergraduate Research Coordinator to identify additional opportunities to present their work at conference on or off campus and to seek publication outlets for their work.

Faculty mentors will be active throughout the application, research, and presentation phases, helping students explore their interests, focus their topic, and find appropriate research materials and contacts. They will assist students first to identify the knowledge and skills required to complete the project and then to plan ways of acquiring that knowledge and those skills. They will aid students in defining research phases and setting research deadlines. During the summer, they will remain in frequent contact with students and provide timely feedback. They will help students find appropriate venues for sharing the results of their research. After the conclusion of the Scholar’s research activities, faculty mentors are required to submit a 1-paragraph description of their role and experience in mentoring the Scholar (to be submitted to the SIS Undergraduate Research Coordinator). A Scholar may or may not be directly involved in the faculty mentor's own research. If they are directly involved, mentors should think of these students not as research assistants but as apprentices. That is, Scholars should have their own research problem or question to investigate so that they can participate in all phases of research design, development, analysis, and conclusions.


Applicants must have a minimum 3.3 GPA in their major and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. In addition, applicants must have earned at least 60 credits at the time of application, have completed both SISU-206 and SISU-306, and also be registered for classes in the subsequent fall semester.

Applications should include the following:

  • A cover sheet with the applicant’s name, AU email address, AU ID number, and the name of the faculty mentor for the proposed research.
  • A research proposal of not more than 2000 words (not including references or appendices) detailing:
  • The research puzzle and proposed research question.
  • The theoretical and empirical significance for the project, with references to existing scholarly literature.
  • The proposed research methodology.
  • A brief description of relevant academic preparation (coursework, independent research, research methods training, etc.) that will enable the applicant to conduct the proposed research. Projects entailing Human Subjects Research should address the specific steps that will be taken to fulfill the Responsible Conduct of Research requirements (including, but not limited to, IRB approval).
  • Appendices (not counted as part of the 2000-word limit):
    -Bibliography of works cited.
    -Answers to questions 1-4 on the “Research Abroad Questionnaire” (see p. 3, below) for those students proposing to do research abroad. A transcript (.pdf of an unofficial transcript is fine).
    -Detailed budget of expected expenses for the proposed research.
    -Detailed timeline for proposed research.
  • A letter of reference from the faculty mentor for the project. The letter should speak to the quality of the proposed research, to the applicant’s preparedness for conducting a methodologically sound research project, and to the advance preparations made between the applicant and the mentor for maintaining a close mentor-mentee relationship throughout the proposed research.

Any research project that might involve human subjects research must receive IRB approval prior to the start of any research activities. Students proposing to do research abroad must complete questions 1-4 of the “Research Abroad Questionnaire” (see p. 3, below) and, if selected as a Scholar, must provide detailed answers to the rest of the required questions prior to any travel and prior to starting any fieldwork.


Students proposing to conduct research abroad will need to provide detailed answers to the questions on the “Research Abroad Questionnaire” (see p. 3, below) prior to traveling and prior to starting any fieldwork research. Students should provide as much detail as possible regarding fieldwork plans as part of the appendix to the proposal submitted to SIS (answering, at a minimum, questions 1, 2, and 3). Then, students should work with their faculty mentor to develop detailed answers to the remaining questions. In the event that a student does not provide satisfactory details the payment will be rescinded. Answers will be reviewed by AU Abroad and by the SIS Undergraduate Research Coordinator.

Research Abroad Questionnaire

1. Where are you planning to do your research abroad? Please list city(ies)/country(ies) and if possible specific area of the city(ies) concerned
2.Please list dates of travel.
3. What is your level of familiarity with the proposed destination? (e.g. professional networks, family connections, previous travel or study abroad experience)
4. What health, safety or security risks have you identified at your proposed destination? What are your plans for mitigating these risks?
5. What is your plan should you experience an emergency or crisis while abroad?
6. Where are you proposing to live?
7. How will you find your accommodation in each location?
8. What will be the payment arrangements for your accommodation?
9. Where within each location will you be conducting your research?
10. How will you plan to travel locally for your day-to-day movements?
11. Are you planning to make any field trips or excursions outside the main area of your research? If so, name locations and how you plan to travel.
12. Who will you be working with on-site? Please list any/all supervisors and human subjects where applicable
13. How have you made these connections for your research project?
14. If the local language is not English, what is your level of language proficiency?
15. If you do not speak the local language, how will you identify and contract with a translator?
16. Will you be making any payments to any translators, supervisors and/or subjects on site? If so, how will these payments be made?


Application materials should be submitted via email to the SIS Undergraduate Program Office ( by Monday, March 2nd, 2020. Students should send their research proposal and transcript in one email with “Summer Scholars Program” in the subject line. Faculty mentors should e-mail their letters to themselves so that the letters remain confidential. The SIS Scholar will be announced by Tuesday, March 31st, 2020.

The selection committee will be composed of SIS faculty members.