UR’s History Department introduced two new programs this semester, providing new opportunities for students in both research and course work.

Creating prospects in research, History Opportunities for Undergraduate Research allows students to be involved in the research projects of faculty members.

“We were aware of the college’s emphasis on undergraduate research and we are now offering that within the history department,” said Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the history department Joan Rubin.

The program matches students with professors when faculty members post their research needs online. Students must then apply for the research positions with an online application, including a letter of recommendation. Once accepted by the professor, they meet to discuss particular aspects of the research projects.

“HOUR gives students a way to implement skills and knowledge acquired as history majors,” Rubin said.

Additionally, the HOUR program can be done as an independent study course for four credits, or students can be paid ten dollars an hour for the work.

“I chose to become involved in the HOUR program because it offers a great opportunity to work closely with one of the professors in the history department on research that they are pursuing in their field,” Rubin’s research assistant Cory Carpenter said. “This is a great way to either get credits or make a little extra money.”

The second addition to the curriculum includes courses in the form of tutorials, which provide new opportunities in course work. These courses will pair two students with a professor and will afford the students the opportunity to teach each other. Presenting papers that take a stance on a historical event every week, the students will be able to discuss historical debates with minimal interference from the professor.

“The role of the faculty member is to guide the students and offer dditional ways of looking at the problem, not to lecture,” Rubin said.

The program was initiated by Professor Robert Westbrook, who read about a similar program offered at Williams College in the “Chronicle of Higher Education.”

“I especially liked the idea of a course centered on the presentation every week of a paper by one student and a response by the other,” Westbrook said.

“I think [the tutorials] will enhance the department curriculum by adding a particularly intense sort of course to our offerings and providing students with the opportunity to work even more closely with the faculty than they already do,” he said.

The courses will involve intensive writing and contact, and due to the assiduous nature of the course students must apply to the professor of each course for admittance.

“For those who are up for the challenge, I think [the courses] will be something special,” Westbrook said.

Taught by Professor Westbrook, the first tutorial is currently being offered on the subject of Film and American History.

“I have never had the opportunity to teach a course strictly about movies and their possibilities both as documents and a way of narrating history,” Westbrook said. “I am enjoying it myself a great deal.”

Rubin feels the program will offer another facet for education.

“It adds variety to the curriculum. It’s another way of learning,” Rubin said of the effects of the tutorial program.

Overall, both of these programs fit in with the continuing goals of the history department.

“The programs are part of an effort within the department to emphasize close relationships with faculty members,” Rubin added.

“The history professors have all been very friendly and accessible during my four years here,” Carpenter said, regarding the success of this emphasis on relationships. “They take every opportunity to get to know their students.”

Murray can be reached at cmurray@campustimes.org.

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