University of Minnesota
College of Liberal Arts Office of Undergraduate Programs
612-624-8675


College of Liberal Arts Office of Undergraduate Programs

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Contact Information


Barbara Schwab
Assistant Director

612-625-7994
schwa113@umn.edu
115 Johnston Hall
101 Pleasant St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

CLA Freshman Research & Creative Awards

Research and Creative Awards

Fostering research for the next generation

Research opportunities are key experiences for undergraduate students; however, most research programs focus on sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Through the Freshman Research and Creative Awards program—the first program of its kind among Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) institutions—the College of Liberal Arts has taken the lead in engaging outstanding first-year students with faculty scholars.

The program has 3 goals:

  • to recruit outstanding students to the college
  • to create an early opportunity for students to interact with faculty members at a premier university
  • to highlight faculty scholarship that engages undergraduate students

Each fall we invite faculty—tenured or tenure-track—to submit research or creative project proposals that can benefit from the assistance of one or more of our talented first-year students.

A signature program

While there are similar programs (like UROP) that aim at sophomores, juniors, and seniors doing a traditional research project with students, we've been able to show that this can be extended to first-year students in a powerful way. There are five ways in which this program is unique and important to our college:

  1. The awards help recruit highly talented first-year students to the college.
  2. Students must take an active part in research or a creative project, so there is some thoughtful co-curricular engagement and activity in the liberal arts by the freshmen who receive funding.
  3. Faculty-student interaction is a core component of the program. This type of 'touchstone' is an important element to help keep students invested and motivated in their college careers.
  4. Undergraduates in the program experience research and creative work first-hand with our most talented faculty members. As the only liberal arts college in Minnesota with a research-intensive mission, this is a unique experience for students and speaks directly to our core mission.
  5. The program's flexibility works well across the social sciences, arts, and humanities. All faculty and students can find some point of intersection around research and creative work.

Previous projects

Among the projects that faculty and freshmen have worked on:

  • creating videos, podcasts, and artwork
  • collaborating with schools and community organizations
  • working with historical materials and archives
  • being part of a laboratory team
  • doing survey research
  • researching sources and proofing books before publication
  • helping to develop plays