The Department of History has long been committed to providing meaningful research opportunities for undergraduates. We firmly believe that conducting original research using appropriate primary and secondary sources not only increases student engagement and promotes deeper learning about the past, but also cultivates information literacy skills, analytical skills, and communication skills that are vital to a wide variety of professions and careers. Helping students transform from consumers to producers of knowledge also provides them with a stronger sense of the excitement of historical research and better sense of how professional historians actually work. This page highlights the many opportunities for conducting, funding, presenting, publishing, and getting formal recognition for undergraduate research in history at Virginia Tech.
1. Required History Courses:
All History majors are required to take Hist 2004: Historical Methods and a 4000-level topics course. Virtually all sections of these courses require completion of a major primary-source-driven original research project.
In addition to a basic history major, the Department of History also offers Options in four areas: Global/Comparative History, Military/Diplomatic/Political History, Science/Technology/Environmental History, Social/Cultural/Economic History. Each of the Options requires a minimum of 12 hours from a selected list of History courses and the completion of 6 hours of Hist 6994: Undergraduate Research, leading to the production of a 25 -50 page thesis on a topic appropriate to that particular Option. For more information on the Options within History, speak to a History advisor or see the checksheets available at: http://www.history.vt.edu/undergraduate/major.htm
3. Honors Thesis:
Students in the University Honors Program must complete a thesis to fulfill the requirements for the “in Honors” or “Honors Baccalaureate” degrees. Information on how to enter the University Honors Program and the degree options available to honors students is available at: http://www.univhonors.vt.edu/. History majors in the University Honors program should meet Professor Amy Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org, the departmental Honors Advisor, as early in their career as possible to start planning their course of study. Completing an honors thesis provides an excellent opportunity to develop and demonstrate one’s skills as a historian and to prepare for graduate study or careers requiring advanced research skills.
4. Independent Study and Undergraduate Research:
Qualified students may sign up to take Hist 4974: Independent Study or Hist 4994: Undergraduate Research, which provide opportunities to complete an undergraduate research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor. To enroll in Hist 4974 or Hist 4994, students must complete the form available at: http://www.uri.clahs.vt.edu/PDF/URISform.pdf and obtain the signature of a faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project. For more information, speak to a History advisor. Honors students should consult Prof. Amy Nelson about enrolling in these courses for honors credit (Hist 4974H and 4994H).
5. Faculty/Student Collaborations
From time to time, History faculty seek qualified students to help them pursue special research projects. For example, a group of three History majors recently worked with Professor Tom Ewing to complete a biography of Edward P. Long, the longtime principal of the Christiansburg Institute. More information about the project is available at: http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/10/101311-clahs-longbook.html. A copy of the book is available here.
Ask your professor if you are interested in pursuing a collaborative research project like this one, and check out the listing of opportunities maintained by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Undergraduate Research Institute: http://www.uri.clahs.vt.edu/fopportunities.html.
1. Marshall Undergraduate Scholarships
The George Marshall Library in Lexington, Virginia, offers funds to support research in 20th-century (1898-1960) diplomatic/military history and political affairs. Each year the History Department nominates one or two students, who receive a $250 cash award and up to $300 in travel expense to use the Marshall Library to complete a major research project. A call for proposals for this scholarship is circulated to the History Department major listserv early each fall. Additional info about this opportunity is available at: http://www.marshallfoundation.org/education/undergraduate.html
2. CLAHS Undergraduate Research Institute
The Undergraduate Research Institute has competitions to fund research and presentation of research in the fall and spring each year. Information and applications for these funds are available at: http://www.uri.clahs.vt.edu/funding.html
3. ACC Research Scholars
Each year the ACC Undergraduate Research Scholars Award Committee offers funding so the supports the research of highly qualified students. Information about this opportunity is posted annuals at: http://www.research.undergraduate.vt.edu/
4. Departmental Funds
The History Department has limited funds to support research related to Virginia or Civil War history. Please contact the Department Chair, Mark Barrow, email@example.com for more information.
1. Virginia Tech Undergraduate Research and Prospective Graduate Student Conference
Each April the Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence host this conference. In April 2011, the History Department had a dozen students presenting papers and posters at this venue. Information about the conference is available at: http://www.caee.vt.edu/Academic_Excellence/undergraduatereserach.html
2. Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference
Each spring, usually in March, Phi Alpha Theta, a national history honors society, sponsors a series of regional conferences, including one based in Virginia that moves around from site to site. In 2012, Virginia Tech had 10 students presenting at the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference held in Lynchburg, Virginia. Information about the annual Virginia Regional meeting is available at: http://phialphatheta.org/regional-meeting-sites
3. Virginia Social Science Association
Each spring, usually in March, the Virginia Social Science Association hosts a meeting the features presentations from undergraduates, students, and faculty. The Department of History generally has one or more students presenting at this conference each year. Information is available at: http://www.virginiasocialscience.org/conference/
4. Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference
Each spring, in March or April, the History Student Graduate Association at Virginia Tech hosts a conference. This is a graduate student conference, but especially accomplished undergraduates may also participate. Please consult your research advisor at the beginning of the spring semester if you are interested in presenting your work at this conference. Information on the Bertoti Conference is available at: http://www.history.vt.edu/hgsa_website/bertoti/index.html
5. ACC Meeting of the Minds
Each spring the ACC puts on a conference that highlights undergraduate research. Participants are chosen by each participating university. In 2012, the ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference was held at Virginia Tech.
6. Additional Presentation Opportunities
See the listings maintained by the Department of History http://www.history.vt.edu/undergraduate/undergradresearchpres.pdf or the CLAHS Undergraduate Research Institute.
1. Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review
In the spring of 2012, the Department of History launched the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review as a venue to showcase the excellent undergraduate research being completed by your majors. Two issues will be published each year. Information on how to submit to VTUHR and copies of the journal are available at: http://www.history.vt.edu/vtuhr/index.htm
Each year, the College of Liberal and Human Sciences publishes an undergraduate journal entitled Philologia. Many of the issues contain submissions from history students, including the spring 2012 issue, which has an article by Kate Pandick, “’Riding with Hitler’: The Failure of Fuel Rationing During WWII.” Information on submitting to this undergraduate journal and copies of issues are available at: http://www.philologia.clahs.vt.edu/
3. Topics Class Books
Many sections of our 4000-level topics courses publish books consisting of student papers related to the topic that semester. Recent examples include The Second American Revolution: How the Sixties Changed America and Radiation Nation: America in the Nuclear Age.
1. History Prize
Each spring the History Department offers an award for the best research paper on a historical topic. Details are circulated on the History major listserv, and the winner is chosen by a committee of Phi Alpha Theta students.
2. Curtis Prize
Each spring the History Department offers an award for the best research paper on a topic in Virginia or Civil War History. Details are circulated on the History major listserv, and the winner is chosen by a committee of History Department faculty.
3. Wilson Prize
Each spring, the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa sponsors an essay contest. Information on this prize is available at: http://www.lib.vt.edu/find/vtauthors/pbk/
CLAHS Undergraduate Research Institute: http://www.uri.clahs.vt.edu/
Virginia Tech Office of Undergraduate Research: http://www.research.undergraduate.vt.edu/
Virginia Tech University Honors Program: http://www.univhonors.vt.edu/