Undergraduate research is a vital component of the Trevecca educational experience, and students will have plenty of opportunities to take part this year.
Faculty-Led Academic Research Experience (FLARE) projects planned for the Spring 2020 semester include editing a quarterly journal, completing business case studies in Belize and an interdisciplinary project combining film, religion, history and music.
Over the past four years, Trevecca professors have guided students in a wide array of research projects, says Dr. Sam Green, director of undergraduate research. Undergraduate research allows students to apply what they’re learning outside the classroom walls—and this year is no different.
“It’s one thing for professors to teach students,” Green said. “It’s another level of learning for students to actively engage in hands-on experiences through FLARE projects.”
Prof. Seth Conley, associate professor of communication, is working on an interdisciplinary digital project in collaboration with Dr. Tim Gaines, associate professor of religion, Dr. Laura Hohman, assistant professor of history, and Dr. Eric Wilson, associate professor and chair of Trevecca’s Department of Music.
Called “Digital Cinema: Theological and Moral Formation in Early Christian Worship,” the FLARE project will include 22 film, history, theology and music students traveling to Rome. The students will produce a series of short films around the formation of the early church, exploring how traditions like daily prayer, reading Scripture, communion and baptism developed.
The beauty of the research project, Conley says, is that it will allow students to work in a team, building on each other’s skills, interests and areas of expertise.
“The project is learning how to implement it all together,” Conley said. “[Students will explore] how we take all this information from four different areas of learning and synthesize it all together.”
Gaines echoed Conley, stressing the purpose and importance of FLARE projects.
“These FLARE projects capture the best of what Trevecca is: a Christian community committed to scholarship that allows students to better engage the world faithfully and creatively,” Gaines said.
Hohman is looking forward to the impact this project will have on her students’ communication skills as well as their faith.
“In the end, I hope this experience will expand their knowledge about this important era in human history and deepen their faith in God’s work in and through this world,” she said.
Prof. Graham Hillard, associate professor of English, will lead another Spring 2020 FLARE project. His students will compile and edit The Cumberland River Review, Trevecca’s quarterly online literary journal. In addition, the students will also attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference held in San Antonio, Texas, March 4-7, 2020.
Hillard says the conference will allow students to interact with professionals, network with other writers and attend panel discussions.
"This is the biggest conference in North America for writers with or without academic affiliations," Hillard said. "It certainly gives our students a sense of the professional world of what writing and editing look like. It gives them the confidence that they can potentially join that world if they are interested in doing so."
Business students will also have a chance to delve into their area of study and explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to businesses in Belize. Called “Business Case Studies in Belize,” the FLARE project is led by Dr. Roy Philip, associate professor of marketing; Dr. Mary Ann Meiners, professor emeritus of economics and an adjunct faculty member; and Dr. Charlotte Houke, professor of business.
The project will also include a spring break trip to Belize City and the island of St. Pedro, where students will get to see the businesses they've researched up close, learn more about the economy and complete their analysis.
Green is excited about this year’s projects—and another chance to help faculty members invest in students’ lives.
“I see my role as a cheerleader for professors to be more excited about areas they are passionate about and ways they can invest themselves and their expertise in students’ lives,” he said. “There has been research going on at Trevecca for many years, and FLARE is an additional way that we are encouraging and supporting these types of projects.”