URSCA Launches New Partnership

On Tuesday afternoon, the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity (URSCA) officially launched a partnership with Lone Star College, a community college in Houston, Texas, with a thriving honors program built on a foundation of undergraduate research. The Johns Hopkins University-Lone Star College Humanities Scholars Program aims to support the next generation of humanities scholars in their research and scholarly endeavors. The partnership developed from conversations between Dr. Katharine Caruso, Associate Vice Chancellor for Honors and International Education at Lone Star; Dr. Erin Rowe, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education at Hopkins; and Dr. Jennifer Wester, Director of URSCA. Dr. Caruso approached Dean Rowe and Dr. Wester about a partnership after several years of Lone Star students having positive experiences in the JHU Mellon Humanities Collaboratory and the Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium, URSCA’s signature humanities programs. Recognizing the affinity between our institutions – both dedicated to undergraduate research – and seeing an opportunity to encourage Lone Star students to consider Hopkins for transfer or for graduate school, the URSCA staff mobilized partners across the university to support this new program.

Text reads: The Johns Hopkins University-Lone Star College Humanities Scholars Program. Includes logos for both institutions.

The JHU-LSC Humanities Scholars Program kicked off with a virtual event on Tuesday, November 14. Dr. Wester opened the event with a reflection on the promise of this partnership between two institutions dedicated to developing humanities scholars, and she shared the proud legacy of humanities research at Hopkins, from the school’s founding in 1876 to the present day. Dr. Caruso discussed the benefits of the Humanities Scholars Program for LSC students, who will have access to world-class programming both in person and online, and she encouraged the inaugural class of Humanities Scholars to apply their knowledge and skills to serve the greater good. 

Guest speaker Dr. Shawntay Stocks, Assistant Director of Fellowships and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins, gave a talk on community-based research and the potential of the humanities to activate community engagement and learning. She shared stories from her experience on the Inheritance Baltimore project and encouraged the JHU-LSC Humanities Scholars to consider forms of knowledge, expertise, and creativity that sit outside what academia has traditionally valued. As they go out into the world as researchers, Dr. Stocks implored the Humanities Scholars to apply the principles of Critical Participatory Action Research, by engaging in a constantly renewing cycle of preparation, action, reflection, and evaluation.  

Following Dr. Stocks’s inspiring remarks, Dr. Samanda Robinson, Academic Program Administrator in URSCA, joined Dr. Wester to give the Humanities Scholars an overview of the Mellon Humanities Collaboratory and to encourage them to apply for this unique summer research experience at Hopkins. Finally, the students were invited to join two breakout sessions. First-year students joined Dr. Eric Mason, JHU’s Assistant Director of Life Design for the Humanities, to explore career pathways in the humanities. Second-year students joined Bailey Jackelen, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Hopkins, to discuss how to build a successful transfer application. 

The full group came back together at the end to reflect on the powerful messages shared, the palpable energy felt, and the unbridled excitement for the future of this partnership.  

Throughout the academic year, URSCA will continue to plan virtual programming for Lone Star students, and will look forward to reviewing their applications for the Macksey Symposium and the Humanities Collaboratory.