THE STUDENT-SCHOLAR INITIATIVE
Over the past several years, the Center has created a portfolio of interlaced programs designed to enhance undergraduate inquiry. Programs already launched include the Undergraduate Research Methods Workshop, the Research Apprenticeship Program, and the Luxembourg Summer Research Institute. Over the coming years, this initiative will continue to expand and will eventually support the following programs.
Humanities Teaching Laboratory
This program aims to provide flexible, low-cost, high-impact interdisciplinary study. Each fall, the Humanities Center will call for proposals from teams of four faculty from different fields of study. Applicant groups will propose a topic that each faculty member will address in a regular course during the subsequent Spring Term (i.e., 15 months after application). For example, a group of faculty in philosophy, English, environmental studies, and American studies might propose a Teaching Lab called “The Warming Planet.” In the semester of the program, each faculty member would teach a related course within his or her own department as part of a normal teaching load. The course would be open to all students, as usual. Teaching Lab students would enroll in at least two of the four themed courses, plus a special one-credit Lab course team-taught by the four Teaching Lab faculty. The one-credit course would include structured small-group discussions; staged faculty dialogues or debates; a formal dinner and social gatherings with faculty; visiting lectures and workshops; films, exhibits, and other public events. Topics could mix “enduring” and “emergent questions” in a wide range of disciplines. Some topics might be specific in character (e.g., “Slavery and the Atlantic”); others could be broad (e.g., “The Body,” “Food,” “Race,” “Democracy,” “Disease and Technology,” etc.). Faculty might arrange to lecture in each other’s courses or develop other forms of engagement and dialogue. The semester would conclude with a conference at which all of the Lab Students present a research project synthesizing their work in multiple program classes. Each year, the program topic and faculty would change. Faculty would receive compensation for offering the one-credit Lab course and developing the Lab course. Enrolled students would, we hope, satisfy Miami’s “Thematic Sequence” requirement (contingent on approval from the Liberal Education Council). The Humanities Center would provide logistical and programming support, work with department chairs to smooth scheduling issues, find participants, and create opportunities for public engagement.
Legal and Medical Humanities
The humanities have, for centuries, developed powerful approaches to the historical, ethical, and interpretive problems facing lawyers, judges, physicians, and business leaders. The Humanities Center offers numerous opportunities for pre-professional students more directly with philosophers, historians, linguists and cultural critics, and second, to make the issues of law, medicine, commerce and sustainability the focus of cross-disciplinary humanities inquiry. The Center has spurred creation of courses in legal humanities (including legal history, law and literature, legal ethics) and medical humanities (narrative medicine, medicine and literature, history of medicine or science). The Humanities Center is currently supporting research clusters in Medical Humanities and Science, Gender, and Technology. These efforts have led to conferences (“Medical Humanities Symposium,” “Disease and Development,”) and the 2016-17 Altman Program on the “Medicine and the Humanities."
The Undergraduate Thesis Project
Departments that support faculty supervision of undergraduate research tend to have far more students engaged in advanced study than those relying on ad-hoc supervision. Yet many humanities departments, especially small ones, struggle to support one-on-one supervision of undergraduates. This initiative would address that problem in three ways. First, the Humanities Center will provide modest research stipends to faculty who take on undergraduate research projects. Second, the center will offer summer salary for faculty to build or enhance their departmental honors program. Finally, the center will fund special multi-disciplinary research seminars for departments too small to support their own such courses.