Undergraduate Research

  • Published: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

Lindsay Currie
Lindsay Currie, Council on Undergraduate Research
ARIS Council of Experts

This year has brought many lessons, but the one I am focusing on is evolution is key to sustainability while driving possibility. Prioritizing time and resources to support undergraduate research (UR) and Broader Impacts (BI) activities and programs is the power of foresight in action. While we are all unsure what tomorrow might bring, it is key to keep our sights on our role in crafting the future we want to see. An investment in UR and BI, ideally linked, is an investment in the future and all that is possible. These two models are changemakers, crafting future citizens who have skills that make them better problem solvers, employees, citizens, and humans, while enriching the communities in which they participate.

As higher education continues to evolve and aims to engage historically underserved students, high-impact practices are increasingly being used as tools and integrated into strategic plans, curriculum, and institutional missions. As campuses focus on developing student engagement and creating key differentiators of what they have to offer potential students, undergraduate research can be one of the most impactful tools a campus can utilize. Furthermore, a successful academic experience is no longer measured by diploma and grade point average but by evidence of good preparation for the job market, continuing education, and societal contribution.

In July 2020, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) launched a new strategic plan prioritizing Leadership for Undergraduate Research; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Advocacy and Partnerships, Collaboration and Community; and Accountability and Sustainability. Beyond the first, which is mission specific to CUR, these are shared values and goals of BI.

Consider UR as an element of your BI strategy, and your research and the world will be better for it.

What Are the Benefits of Undergraduate Research?

  • Enhances student learning through mentoring relationships
  • Increases retention and graduation in academic programs
  • Increases enrollment in graduate education and provides effective career preparation
  • Develops critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and intellectual independence
  • Develops an understanding of research methodology
  • Promotes an innovation-oriented culture

Providing our future leaders with the skills to question, collaborate, and communicate thoughtfully and effectively with a broad community will better equip them for an unpredictable future. We are preparing future leaders by building their self-confidence, nimbleness in the face of unexpected obstacles, belief in the need for supporting evidence, and so much more. The more individuals with this experience, the greater the opportunity for positive societal change.

By Lindsay Currie, Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), ARIS Council of Experts