Date of this Version
Honors in Practice 12 (2016), pp 109-121
Like many other universities of its kind, the University of Maine has a centralized body, the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR), charged with engaging motivated students in independent learning and in the creation of new knowledge. UMaine furthermore has an honors college that is likewise committed to fostering undergraduate research, particularly research that is rooted in active learning under the guidance of a faculty mentor (University of Maine Honors College Mission Statement). Consistent with national trends, UMaine highly values the work that both CUGR and the honors college do in promoting undergraduate research. UMaine’s current strategic plan lists the advancement of cutting-edge undergraduate research as one of its twelve primary objectives, and CUGR received a three-year, $300,000 presidential stimulus grant in spring 2012 that funds a number of research fellowships for students and faculty. The same strategic plan also articulates a commitment to strengthening the honors college, recognizing its similar importance in the development and implementation of novel models of undergraduate research that include preparing students for “meaningful jobs and for life” (University of Maine Blue Sky Plan 31). Though CUGR and honors both advance undergraduate research in significant ways at UMaine, we would like to argue that honors is especially well positioned to fulfill the strategic plan’s goal of preparation “for life.” On its website, CUGR contends that participation in undergraduate research will make individuals more “competitive” in a global society, which is an important objective. However, what we found through a recent honors undergraduate research experience was that honors research can make individuals more decent as well as competitive in a global society.