Northwestern allocates upwards of three million dollars annually to undergraduate research projects. That means the school is just waiting for students to walk into the research office with a research proposal about what engages their interests. Northwestern also has a number of research advisers who are ready to talk to students about how they can make whatever they are passionate about into a research project. While many of the research projects happening around campus are in the sciences and are taking place in labs on and around campus, students with interests in the arts or the humanities are also creating projects to dig their hands into whatever matters to them.
The summer after her second year, my friend Nikki received an Undergraduate Research Grant (URG) to go to the UK to study theatre for young audiences. Nikki sits on Northwestern’s theatre company that focuses specifically on producing plays for young audiences at Northwestern. She spent that summer traveling around Britain, watching, interviewing, and learning about the cutting edge theatre for young audiences (TYA) overseas. She was interested in exploring what the UK was doing right when it came to TYA, and what she could bring back to campus (and to this country). Since she’s been back, Nikki has used her research experience to continue growing the TYA presence on Northwestern’s campus. She is also writing her theatre honors thesis based on the research she did in the UK on theatre for the very young. Another friend of mine, Bea Cordelia, also used her URG to do research abroad. She went to Germany the summer after her junior year to conduct research on the impact of new legislation creating a space for trans citizens. Bea traveled around Germany interviewing trans individuals who had been affected by the new legislation, collecting their stories and working through them to conceptualize an improved form of the new legislation. Additionally, her fieldwork in Germany also happened to coincide with the German World Cup victory, and she got to join in on the celebration.