Global Scholars Program for Undergraduate Research

The ClassWe are passionate about undergraduate research and global education. Both are proven components of the best liberal arts educations and prepare students for graduate programs and professional careers.

In 2012 we launched Dickinson College’s new model for combining student-faculty research and study abroad by building a research team of 19 Dickinson students enrolled at our partner institution, the University of Queensland (Autralia).

This diverse group of students included science and non-science majors who spent the semester studying the impacts of climate change on the marine ecosystems of Moreton Bay.  Their research was inspired by our recent student co-authored paper on the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal seagrasses , published in the journal PLoS ONE.  See the article here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0035107.  See our presentation from the 2013 conference of the Forum for Education Abroad in Chicago here: ArnoldForum2013FINAL

This program was developed with the view that student-faculty research and study abroad opportunities represent two transformative educational experiences for undergraduates, providing a wealth of life experience and practical training that classroom lectures can not deliver.  The program allows students to investigate an issue of global importance in an unfamiliar location, from difference perspectives.

In 2012 students spent the semester conducting research at the Moreton Bay Research Station and at a nearby fieldsite where ocean waters are naturally acidified by a mysterious underground spring system.  This remote site served as a “living laboratory” for the team, providing a glimpse of our future when carbon dioxide levels exceed 450 ppm.  The team surveyed the site, conducted analyses of water chemistry, characterized seagrass communities, and performed choice feeding experiments with rabbitfish – all to determine how climate change will alter local marine ecosystems.  They also participated in lectures and seminars, and hosted visiting scientists from UQ.  Ultimately, students completed a research manuscript for publication and presented their findings at UQ, as well as several venues here at Dickinson after they returned.

The Global Scholars research program was administered by:

Tom Arnold, Department of Biology, Dickinson College
Ian Tibetts, UQ professor and director of the international office for the SBS at UQ
Carla Maranto-Arnold and Brian Brubaker, Center for Global Study and Engagement, Dickinson College
and 19 Dickinson College students (~50% of those studying at UQ during this semester)

with support from research grants from the Smithsonian Institution, NASA, and the college’s Center for Sustainability Studies (to TMA), as well as funding from the CGSE at Dickinson College.

A few representatives from the Global Scholars group will be sharing their research at upcoming national scientific meetings.  Details about their work and presentations can be found here on our blog news site.  These presentations and their continuing work in the lab here on campus have served as excellent “re-entry” programs, helping students transition back to Dickinson and see the links between their experiences in Australia and their experiences abroad.  They have also helped some of the students plan for the next phase of their educations, serving as a way to meet researchers who might serve as future graduate advisors.  Thanks to Dickinson College, our collaborators at UQ, and the first Global Scholars students, who have made our pilot program a continuing success.

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