Research in the Public Sphere: Connecting Students & the Community


  • Kevin Stoy George Mason University
  • Mai Nguyen George Mason University
  • Felipe Cardenas George Mason University



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


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 Masonââ¬â¢s Honors College called ââ¬ÅResearch in the Public Sphereââ¬Â 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 ââ¬Åtranslationalââ¬Â research course demonstrates to students important relations and distinctions between ââ¬Åpureââ¬Â and ââ¬Åappliedââ¬Â 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. àLesson plans will be made available for those interested in particular assignments from the course.

Author Biographies

Kevin Stoy, George Mason University

Administrative Faculty, Honors College

Mai Nguyen, George Mason University

Mai Nguyen is an Honors Collegeàsenior majoring in Government and International Studies, and double minoring in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Journalism. Over the lastàthree years at Mason she has taken advantage of numerousàexperiential and professionalàlearning opportunities.àShe served as a research intern for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Southeast Asia program;àa social engagement and casework intern for the Restoring Family Links of the American Red Cross;àand as a grant and administrative intern for the Asia Foundation. She is also a University Scholar, the mostàcompetitive and prestigious four-year scholarship at George Mason University. Beyond the classroom, Maiàis alsoàan active student leader of two organizations:àHonors College Connects (HCC), which offers Honors Collegeàstudents unique learningàexperiences through collaborative projects with localànon-profit organizations, and Students Engage in Ending Displacement (SEED), which raises awareness of the current plight of displacement.

Felipe Cardenas, George Mason University

Filipe is a student at George Mason University.

Additional Files





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