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Undergraduate Research at SIS

An undergraduate student presenting research.

Research is an integral part of the School of International Service’s undergraduate experience and a cornerstone of the SIS B.A. degree. The SIS Undergraduate Program offers a wide range of opportunities for you to learn the critical skills and competencies of research, to put those skills into practice, and to take your research beyond the classroom by publishing or presenting your work. More than just a set of skills, though, research is a mindset. We are committed to supporting undergraduate research because learning how to conduct research empowers students to be critical consumers and producers of knowledge and equips them with the skills critical for success in future courses and careers.

The second year of the SIS B.A. curriculum, the “research experience,” is comprised of a two-semester methods and methodology course sequence. The first course, Introduction to International Studies Research (SISU-206), introduces students to important epistemological questions about social science research and to foundational skills and competencies. Students are then guided through the development of several research designs for their topics, with each design employing a different methodological approach. This introduction to the methods and methodologies of research is the foundation for the second course, Advanced International Studies Research (SISU-306), in which students complete their an research project through the application of the research skills and one or more of the methodologies learned in SISU-206. It is in this course sequence that students transition from being receivers of information to critical consumers and producers of knowledge.

There are also numerous opportunities for SIS students to take their research beyond the classroom, including the SIS Advanced International Studies Research Poster Conference, the SIS Undergraduate Research Symposium, regional conferences and symposiums hosted by other universities, national forums such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, and more. Presenting research at an academic conference is an excellent way to meet other researchers interested in similar topics, to engage in discussion and debate, to learn from others, and to expand your network. Preparing your work for an academic conference or for publication provides an opportunity to develop an existing research project or to further a research topic that you may have examined in a class. Independent research experience is also essential to successful applications for competitive national merit scholarships such as the Fulbright or Boren. Moreover, research experience prepares you for a wide range of professional careers in international affairs as well as for future study in graduate school. All of these are important parts of the scholarly exchange of ideas that begins, but does not stop, in the classroom.

The School of International Service is committed to supporting undergraduate research and offers a wide range of resources to support students in the conduct of research and in the presentation and publication of their research. The links to the left provide detailed information on these opportunities and resources for undergraduate research. You should also feel free to contact your SIS Undergraduate Research Coordinator with any questions you might have.

  1. Aaron Boesenecker, Assistant Professor

    SIS-School of Intl Service

    Dr. Aaron P. Boesenecker joined the SIS faculty in the fall of 2009.  He teaches across various SIS programs, including the Undergraduate Program, the Online M.A. in International Relations Program, and the SIS Ph.D. Program. As the SIS Undergraduate… More

    Send email to Aaron Boesenecker

    (202) 885-6326