REU Site: Studies in Social Inequality and Social Vulnerability
- View All
This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program at Texas A & M University aims to attract undergraduates to careers in social science research and to increase the participation of talented individuals from under-represented groups (e.g., African Americans and Latinos). The Departments of Sociology (SOCI) and Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning (LAUP) collaborate to host this REU Site that brings undergraduate students majoring in sociology, planning, and related disciplines to participate in an eight-week Summer Institute focusing on Studies of Inequality and Social Vulnerability. The primary student activities are participating in a faculty-supervised research project leading to a research paper and presentation at a professional conference, while upporting activities include a seminar providing grounding in theory, data, and methods relevant for research projects; two research field trips; and workshops on opportunities for graduate education and research careers. The site theme "Studies of Social Inequality and Social Vulnerability" reflects the expertise of the researcher mentors from SOCI & LAUP and is proven effective in attracting applications from African American and Latino students. The eight research mentors have strong research and mentoring credentials and prior experience in overseeing successful NSF REU and SBE programs. Students are incorporated into the ongoing research programs of the mentors and assigned individual research projects. Selected examples include: documenting disparities in socioeconomic, residential, and health outcomes by race and poverty-income status; assessing differential vulnerability of social groups to natural and technical hazards; assessing how hazards (e.g., hurricanes and floods) differentially impact ethnic minority, low income, and other vulnerable populations; investigating correlates, causes, and consequences of residential segregation by race and income; conducting historical case studies of the evolution of residential segregation over time in selected cities; and assessing variation in recovery from the impact of hazards. Diversity goals will be served by practices used in prior successful REU Sites. These include working closely with faculty at minority serving universities that have limited STEM student research opportunities to identify promising, motivated students with interests in graduate education and research careers. The proposed REU Site draws on the faculty expertise and institutional resources of two nationally prominent doctoral departments to provide students intensive research experiences based on participating in ongoing research projects, some funded by NSF, relating to social inequality and social vulnerability. Students undertake individual projects directed by faculty mentors and designed to be feasible over the summer institute and within the capabilities of advanced undergraduates. Although the mmediate contributions of student projects to science could be modest, the larger intellectual merit is enhancing student research capabilities, understanding of and interest in research, and odds of going on to graduate education and research careers.