All human knowledge is the result of people wanting their questions answered. The Research area prepares students to undertake advanced research or inquiry-based learning in their respective fields. Students in this Area of Emphasis will:

  • Learn the purposes, uses, time dimensions, and tools and techniques of contemporary research
  • Master current technologies for accessing, synthesizing, and integrating information
  • Identify and assess targeted areas for investigation within the context of broader human problems, whether they be social, environmental, or economic
  • Propose hypotheses, gather data and information that facilitate theory building, and deploy inquiry-based strategies
  • Ensure that all study protocols are in accord with ethical guidelines and the legal obligations of federal and institutional research
  • Become effective oral, written, and visual professional communicators
  • Make recommendations that are useful in other disciplines, for instance, in marketing and management, the helping professions, or the social sciences

This Area of Emphasis is open to all students and is not just limited to Science, Math, and Engineering majors. Research and inquiry-based learning in the arts and humanities as well as in the social, behavioral and health sciences is also supported in this Area of Emphasis. 


Introductory Seminar (Fall)

HON 341 - Research

This seminar is designed as an introduction to the nature of scientific inquiry and what it means to be a research scientist and effective communicator. Topics covered will be both theoretical and practical in nature. This course will have three main units of study: 1) Ways of knowing (e.g. identifying causation vs. correlation, critiquing the experimental process, and the appreciating the importance of using models), 2) Scientific communication (e.g. accessing, understanding, and writing scientific literature; understanding the manuscript submission, review, and revision process; and interfacing with conventional modes of oral communication), and 3) From theory to practice (i.e. establishing and fostering productive professional relationships, maintaining accurate and thorough record keeping, and working within the framework of conventional scientific standards). Through the exposure and analysis of these topics and issues, students will become prepared for a positive undergraduate research experience.


Experiential Seminar (Spring)

Experiential seminar offerings may vary from year to year. The following are examples of seminars that have previously been offered to students in the Research area. 

Research in Practice
AREA(S): Research

At this point research emphasis students may be eager to start active participation in a research program. A second semester “Research in Practice” experience will help to bridge the gap between coursework and independent research with a faculty mentor.  At the end of the fall semester of their sophomore year, research emphasis students will identify a sponsor faculty member with which to work throughout the upcoming spring semester on a literature-based reading and review process.  Specifically, students will read and discuss scholarly literature selected by the faculty sponsor and relevant to said faculty member’s research program question/goals. Weekly faculty/student meetings to discuss the assigned literature will be expected.  By the end of the semester, students will produce a mini-review of the field.  Throughout the semester students will also work to experience and assimilate into the culture of the faculty sponsor’s research group by attending group meetings/social events and shadowing faculty or advanced research students. To facilitate reflection and connections back to skills introduced in the introductory seminar, students will meet throughout the semester with other research emphasis students for focus group conversations and discussions about their experiences.

NOTE: Some students will find that a course similar to HON 341: Research in Practice exists within their home department. In this case, students should enroll in their departmental course facsimile and apply for an Honors Option within this course to fulfill their second semester Area of Emphasis requirement. One of the Honors Option activities must include meeting with the rest of the "Research In Practice" student cohort. If a similar course does not exist within any given home department, students within this department should enroll directly in HON 341: Research in Practice. No Honors Option paperwork will be required in such a case. 

Regardless if students are completing a Research in Practice internship experience by taking a departmental course with an Honors Option or directly enrolling in HON 341: Research in Practice, all students will need to secure a faculty member (in addition to the Area of Emphasis Coordinator) to sponsor and mentor their work.  Arrangements with faculty sponsors must be made prior to the end of the fall semester. A faculty sponsor may also serve as a current or future independent research advisor.  In the event that independent research is ongoing, work in fulfillment of the second semester Research Emphasis requirement must be distinct from and in addition to that of the student’s independent research expectations.  

Global Citizenship in a Service-Learning Context
AREA(S): Creativity; Global Studies; Leadership; Research; Service

This course focuses on the concept of “global citizenship” in the context of an international service-learning trip.  Students will travel to the Dominican Republic (DR) and engage in an intensive service-learning project over spring break.  The course seeks to address definitions and issues of global citizenship, development and service, using the service-learning experience as an aid to learning within the course.  Students will also experience/learn about contemporary social, political, cultural and economic conditions within the DR, through service learning, structured outings, cultural events, guest speakers, coursework and course readings and assignments.  Ongoing structured reflection will provide a way for all participants to discover, articulate, integrate and act on what they learn from their experiences.  Students will work with both American and Dominican professionals.

Global Challenges and the Future of Work in the 21st Century: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years
AREA(S): Creativity; Global Studies; Leadership; Research; Service

In this presidential election cycle, candidates extol the virtues of education, economic growth, and job creation as keys to the future. But what does a quality education look like in the twenty-first century? Where can we squeeze out additional profits amid calls for sustainable environmental practices? What will the jobs of the future look like? Are we prepared for the next global or international economy? Emerson once wrote: “Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” Is this all the reassurance we need?

In this class you will engage in self-directed study of the future of work, the future of education, and the future global economy. We will study the past, present, and future of great global challenges; the importance of service, civic engagement and leadership; and the need for creativity in making a difference in the world.

James Madison University Undergraduate Research Journal
AREA(S): Creativity; Global Studies; Leadership; Research; Service

Students collaborate to publish the online undergraduate research journal JMURJ. Students taking the course serve as editorial board members, who act in a number of capacities: outreach, acquisitions, and marketing; editing in all its forms, from comprehensive editing to copyediting and proofreading; and publication and design. Editorial board members gain experience in defining and publishing a growing university-wide academic research journal; collaborating with a diverse group of enthusiastic, skilled editorial board members; and working with people and texts from various fields.

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