CUR Conference 2012

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In April of 2012, the City College of New York hosted a three-day workshop entitled Institutionalizing Undergraduate Research for State Systems and Consortia, organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It was attended by small teams of faculty and administrators from each of CUNY’s eleven senior colleges, as well as representatives from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. Designed to improve the quality of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the undergraduate level, the workshop provided support for teams to articulate their goals and construct individualized action plans aimed at institutionalizing undergraduate research at their colleges.

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The workshop included four plenaries that covered topics related to increasing participation in undergraduate research. The plenaries were presented by Mitch Malachowski of the University of San Diego and Jeff Osborn of the College of New Jersey, both of whom have previously served as CUR presidents. They discussed the importance of creating a culture of research at undergraduate institutions, the development of an infrastructure to support undergraduate research, and the challenges of incorporating mentoring undergraduate students into faculty workload and integrating research into the curriculum. The workshop also included five breakout sessions, which provided teams with the opportunity to work directly with trained CUR facilitators to develop action plans specific to each institution, and two concurrent sessions, during which team members split up and attended small group discussions about funding, curriculum development and faculty workload.

The weekend provided the valuable opportunity for attendees to network with faculty and administration from other CUNY colleges. The workshop culminated in presentations by each team describing their newly developed mission statements and short-, medium- and long-term goals for instilling a culture of research on their campuses.

auditorium The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research also developed its own mission statement and set of objectives to help support the individual colleges in the realization of their goals. In the months since the workshop, a website devoted to undergraduate research at CUNY has been developed to provide both faculty and students with valuable resources to facilitate  research efforts. The office has also organized a CUNY Undergraduate Research Council (CURC), made up of representatives from each college, who will continually meet to discuss and reevaluate goals and will act as advocates of undergraduate research on their campuses.

In approximately a year, the teams will come together again for a follow-up workshop during which representatives will share their experiences, revamp their action plans, and discuss the strategies that have worked and the challenges they have faced.