Research in the public sphere: Connecting students & the community

Kevin Stoy, Mai Nguyen, Felipe Cardenas

Session Information

Year: 2016 | Time: 3:35pm-4:15pm | Location: Innovation Hall (Room 334)


Despite increased pressure on academia to produce job-ready graduates, students can still learn how to discover new knowledge and put that knowledge to use without compromising the important lessons a liberal education and the interdisciplinary research process teaches. An innovative course in Mason’s Honors College called “Research in the Public Sphere” connects student researchers from across all disciplines with Northern Virginia nonprofits and businesses whose pressing challenges serve as a starting point for student research projects. Students develop their research questions around the needs of these public entities, exploring and examining their research questions from multiple perspectives. Now in its third installation, this “translational” research course demonstrates to students important relations and distinctions between “pure” and “applied” research, helping them translate their learning to the public sphere. Bio-engineering, computer science, finance, government and international politics, neuroscience, psychology, and systems engineering majors have all taken the course. Two students who took the course will share some specific research experiences and learning gains.  Lesson plans will be made available for those interested in particular assignments from the course.


active learning; evidence-based practices; collaborative learning; multidisciplinary learning; problem-based learning; research experiences; team-based learning; self-regulated learning; interdisciplinary learning; transdisciplinary learning


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