Learning in Depth

Undergraduate research at Oxy really allowed me to think critically about what has been done and think about how I can push the needle even further in a new and novel way. Undergraduate research really gave me the opportunity to better understand my major and better connect with faculty as well as other students who are interested in the same field. That's why research is threaded throughout our curriculum. It allows students to really pursue their own ideas and I think this is unique at the undergraduate level. Undergraduates are the primary leaders of projects. You are the ones responsible for moving your project forward and taking on the big risks in a research project and thinking of how you can innovate the project. It's not uncommon for a student to find their own research question and pursue that all the way through their comprehensive exams. Every student at Occidental has to fulfill their major requirement, the senior comps or senior thesis. We're given the creativity to study and really choose the topic and the research question that we're most passionate about. It starts with just encouraging a seed of curiosity. That experience of being able to find their critical voice, that's what I think is catalytic for them. I've had students follow me to Prague and do research on a Fulbright and then go on to graduate with a PhD. That's not a rare story. That is a common story. It wasn't until after I began research that I realized how invaluable this experience was. Our students here are engaged in serious scholarship always inflected by a larger social, global, consciousness. It's knowledge that can make the world a better place.

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