Staff Editorial: Research in the Humanities

A university such as ours that prides itself on students’ admission to graduate programs must especially appropriate its resources for student research. Programs that allow students to conduct research, and even publish, in their undergraduate years dramatically increase those students’ chances for post-graduate success.

Some may hold preconceived notions of what this research may be like. They may think the majority of necessary undergraduate-level research is what professors do in Youngchild and Steiz.  Conducting scientific research is crucial for the success of Lawrence’s science students and professors, and it contributes to scientific progress. However, humanities research carries just as much importance for student growth and scholarly pursuit. While the humanities professors participate in their own research, the opportunities to assist are not readily available as they are for the hard sciences.

The relatively new senior experience program ensures that all studentseven those in humanitieshave the opportunity to design and conduct research. Honors projects present an enormous chance for students to conduct research in their chosen fields. For some, however, these opportunities during senior year may be their first major research experiences.

Nonetheless, many students make the most of research programs and courses at Lawrence. The Richard A. Harrison Symposium, taking place this Saturday, May 16, will showcase the most exceptional research conducted by Lawrence students in the humanities and social sciences. The presentations may not be couched in visions of test tubes and spectral analysis, but they will still feature the results of deep intellectual interrogation and the synthesis of careful inquiry with observation and independent research.

Opportunities such as the Harrison Symposium must be expanded upon to inspire research in the humanities. While the natural sciences boast a number of programs both inside and outside of Lawrence to encourage research opportunities and internships, humanities students frequently find themselves on their own. Lawrence must double down on its commitment to provide institutional support for student research in any field.