Students receive Mellon grants

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March 6, 2007

1:59 PM

Last month, the College announced it had received a $300,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to pursue faculty-undergraduate combined research initiatives.

p. Under the supervision of faculty members, approximately 20 advanced undergraduates will coordinate individual and/or group research projects in sophomore- and junior-level courses. According to the Roy R. Charles Center, there are two primary goals of the program: to enrich the learning experience of students lacking research opportunities and to provide top-tier students with a “sheltered” opportunity to experience a teaching role.

p. The initiative aims to strengthen research opportunities during students’ sophomore and junior years, years that, according to the Charles Center, “have become the weak link in the College’s commitment to active learning and undergraduate research.”

p. The College first received funding from the foundation last year, when Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Carl Strikwerda secured a grant from the foundation.

p. “The Mellon Fellows program has allowed experienced undergraduates to help faculty mentors bring their research into their teaching in exciting new ways,” Strikwerda said.

p. Faculty in 15 departments, including those in the sciences, social sciences and humanities have benefited from the funds.
Timothy Barnard, professor of English and American studies, received a grant to chronicle early twentieth century Williamsburg culture.

p. Working with two undergraduate fellows, he is heading a one-credit class that interviews local Williamsburg residents about movie-going during the first half of the 20th-century. Barnard also hopes to expand the Williamsburg Theatre Project, an online database that aims to record every film that screened in Williamsburg.

p. “The course and the research opportunity it creates for students … contributes to the efforts of the American studies program to offer to the community [its] researching techniques and expertise that can help promote a better understanding of our community’s rich 20th century history (which for too long has been overshadowed by the fame of our town’s colonial history),” Barnard wrote in an e-mail to the Flat Hat.

p. Junior Kristen Boos is working with Barnard on the project. She said that the program allows students to step outside the library and gain new, first-hand research opportunities.

p. “This program gives students an opportunity to experience first-hand historical research and documentation,” Boos said. “It extends historical research out from Swem Library and into the Williamsburg community. Instead of just learning how to work a microfilm reader, they will be gaining skills in talking to people, asking the right questions and thinking analytically about what they hear.”

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