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New ASURE program gives research opportunities to freshmen



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Owen Hall is located within IU’s campus at 790 E. Kirkwood Ave. The College of Arts and Sciences recently launched the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience initiative, which is designed to give incoming direct-admit students the college research experience at the beginning of their college career.  Alex Deryn Buy Photos

IU’s College of Arts and Sciences launched a new program this semester to give research opportunities to first-year students.

The new program, the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience initiative, is open to direct admits and the program has two tracks of study – humanities and biology. 

Students learn research methods during their first semester ASURE class and then apply these skills in a lab setting during their second semester.

Paul Gutjahr, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, said he wants students to approach the ASURE classes with curiosity and courage. 

“What I would like to offer freshmen is the chance to be transformed by some kind of research experience,” Gutjahr said.

He said he wants students to leave ASURE classes with a newfound appreciation for subjects they may have no intention of majoring in. 

“I want them to kind of say, ‘You know what? This was an educational experience that really changed me. That changed the way I looked at the world. That changed the way I kind of thought about problems,’” Gutjahr said. 

Gutjahr said the key to giving students that transformational experience is great teachers. When he began creating the ASURE program, he went to the chair of each humanities department and asked them to recommend their best teaching faculty.

“The people I have onboard, they’re all in,” Gutjahr said. 

Collin Bjork, an associate instructor in the English department, is teaching an ASURE class studying podcasts with another professor, John Arthos. He said he is excited to utilize students’ natural talents in the classroom. 

“They have talents that we can hone and refine and that they can also contribute to the knowledge making and the production of art and artifacts in the world,” Bjork said. 

Bjork said it was important students have research classes so they could learn how to practically apply the things they learned in class.

“The goal of this course is to do the other part of education, which often gets lost, which is empowering students to produce knowledge as well as just consume it,” Bjork said.

Both Bjork and Gutjahr are excited to see how ASURE grows. Bjork said he plans to continue teaching his podcasting class as part of ASURE. Gutjahr said he is already thinking about expanding the program to add more tracks, such as mathematics or another humanities subject. 

When Gutjahr started creating a new research program for freshman, he went to the Classics department and asked the faculty to translate the initiative's motto— “Curiosity with courage”— into Latin. Because the phrase was difficult to directly translate, they gave him an approximation. Invenire et Audere: to discover and to dare.

With an enthusiastic group of faculty and administrators, the only thing the ASURE program needs is students willing to discover and to dare. Monday, Gutjahr was preparing for a private dinner with students and faculty involved with ASURE. He said he planned to tell students that while he hoped the program inspired their curiosity, he also wanted it to inspire their courage. 

“I want it to develop a habit of the heart,” Gutjahr said. 

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