The Importance of URSCA on Campus
While the term “URSCA” might not be a familiar term, many faculty know the importance of undergraduate research in their teaching and learning (and often scholarship!) endeavors. The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) recognizes this as well. CUR is a national organization based in Washington D.C., that has a mission to support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship.
What might this type of activity look like? Well, CUR puts forth the following definition: undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. So, the goal of the term “URSCA” which stands for “undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activities” to go be explicit in going beyond the “undergraduate research” definition so many individuals think about and acknowledge there are many ways to make “an original intellectual or creative contribute” in a given discipline.
Thanks to initial funding from the National Science Foundation and follow-up funding from a UW System Growth Agenda Grant, CUR partnered in the Fall of 2011 with the UW System four-year campuses to undertake a program designed to provide us with the skills to build and enhance a culture that supports undergraduate research both at the institutional and system level. Numerous workshops have been held, during which UWGB (and the other campuses) has been working to (1) articulate goals for undergraduate research on campus, (2) develop strategies to reach those goals, (3) identify common challenges and opportunities for initiating and sustaining faculty-student collaborative or mentored undergraduate research and (4) develop an integrated approach with the support of the system that will aid in expanding the undergraduate research capacity throughout the system.
After two and a half years of work, WiSCUR has been created! That’s the Wisconsin Council on Undergraduate Research – WiSCUR, you know, like on a cat?
WisCUR provides a forum a discussion and an advocacy platform for faculty and staff from across the UW System who are engaged in research, creative and scholarly activities with undergraduate students. WisCUR’s mission is to provide leadership to advance, enhance and expand URSCA across the UW System in order to prepare graduates who can adapt and innovate for the challenges of the future.
This weekend I’ll be traveling to Washington, D. C. for a CUR Summit that many of my UW colleagues will be attending, along with individuals from several other State Systems and Consortia. I look forward to learning more about strengths and challenges of URSCA across the UW System and at other institutions as well and then bringing that information back as we seek to build a stronger URSCA community among the faculty at UWGB. So, be on the lookout for more blog posts related to this upcoming Summit and, more generally, to WiSCUR.
If you have any questions about URSCA, please don’t hesitate to stop by CATL or contact me directly!
Director of CATL