Kutler Center adds first directed study for research projects

Tara Stone

Projects in Interdisciplinary Study and Research will be offered as a directed study through the Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research department next year.

The course is “intended to facilitate immersive and extensive exploration of interdisciplinary subject matter, through directed mentoring by a faculty member and peer consultation and critique,” according to the course proposal.

The class, which is open to juniors and seniors, will be offered each semester twice a cycle. ISIR department chair Larry Klein will be the lead teacher for the course.

The class aims to have students design a project for which they can undertake research while working with their peers and mentors. Students will also have the opportunity to learn and practice their ability to present information through public presentation as they must produce something concrete, Klein said.

The course is modeled on existing courses such as Studies in Scientific Research and will provide a vehicle for students who have a specific interdisciplinary interest to begin or continue exploration of that interest in a directed, structured and peer-linked manner, according to the course proposal.

The course will be the first directed study in the Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research department after the department’s inauguration this year with the opening of the Kutler Center.

The logistics as to how the class will operate in particular instances have not been fully developed yet, as the course was approved by the Faculty Academic Committee last week, Klein said.

One such project that may be included through the new course is a project led by visual arts department head Cheri Gaulke, in which students will study the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and learn the technique of how to document issues related to war and peace through filmmaking, Gaulke said.

The project will center around a week-long trip to Rwanda where students will meet affected people and visit various monuments in order to record footage. Students will then spend the rest of the semester-long course working with Gaulke and Emmy award-winning journalist Jeff MacIntyre to turn their footage into short documentaries.

The trip is slotted to take place over spring break or in February. Students who are not enrolled in the course are permitted and encouraged to come on the trip, though they would not receive credit for the class.

Gaulke got the idea for the course after returning from the Laos trip she coordinated over spring break that had a similar goal. She realized that a class would be more beneficial for the students as they could learn about Rwanda before they go and then have a designated time to work on their documentaries.