News and Events
Pepperdine Awarded W. M. Keck Foundation Grant to Launch “Student as Scholar Program”
Seaver College has been awarded a four-year, $250,000 grant by the W. M. Keck Foundation for the enrichment of undergraduate scholarship. The grant will facilitate an institutionalized curriculum proposed by a team of Pepperdine faculty and administration called “Developing the Undergraduate Student as Scholar: An Institutional Approach to Early Student Engagement,” also known as the Student as Scholar Program (SASP).
Beginning in Fall 2011, the grant will provide dynamic opportunities for undergraduate students to participate and engage in interdisciplinary research that will be overseen by a distinguished team of faculty, including project director and associate provost for research Lee Kats, Seaver College dean Rick Marrs, and Seaver associate dean and Blanche E. Seaver Chair in English Literature Constance Fulmer. Through innovative pedagogical methods, faculty mentors will help facilitate a transformative shift in thought, empowering first-year students to pursue their own ideas and make scholarly contributions to their disciplines. The program will engage 760 students over four years (190 students annually) in original research and scholarship beginning in their first term at Pepperdine, with the overarching goal of developing students as scholars.
“We think undergraduate students are capable and, in fact, do not have to wait until they are juniors or seniors to engage in advanced research. The idea is to create freshman seminars that provide students with the tools to address questions in their field and then promote interdisciplinary questions and interdisciplinary training,” explains Kats.
The program will consist of 10 sections of first-year seminars led by faculty mentors in the students’ preferred field of study. Each year the program will invite a new cohort of first-year scholars who will then be supported in their scholarly efforts, research, presentations, and conferences throughout their undergraduate career. Experienced junior and senior-level students with previous research experience will also peer mentor the first-year students. All SASP participants will complete mini-grant proposals as a final intellectual exercise in the course and may opt to seek funding for summer projects.
“An increasing number of Pepperdine students are receiving Fulbright or Goldwater scholarships. We hope that by providing a challenging and inquisitive environment, Pepperdine will be known as a place that produces students highly competitive for prestigious national awards.”
Pepperdine has a long history of undergraduate research and scholarship, focusing on interdisciplinary and curriculum-based research opportunities. “‘Student engagement’ is a buzzword in higher education that is backed by literature that says engaged students have better undergraduate experiences,” notes Kats. “The key is to help students develop the confidence and tools to become creative and independent yet collaborative scholars.”
After initial coursework is completed, the goal is for students to maintain research relationships with their faculty mentors and, ideally, branch into other avenues of mentorship that will lead to a track record of scholarship.
“It could mean a culture shift for Pepperdine,” explains Kats of the program’s impact and long-term effect on the University. “Our traditional courses are important for our curriculum, but this program will initiate the next level of getting our students involved in scholarship and research and development of original ideas.”
To learn more about the Student as Scholar Program, contact Stephen Davis at ext. 4324.