AN INTERNATIONAL UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH EXCHANGE: THE UTC/UCA PROJECT
During Summer term 2017, faculty members from The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga (UTC) and The University of Cadiz (UCA) established a new summer International Undergraduate Summer Abroad Research Experience (iURE). The purpose of the program is to broaden the research experience for undergraduates and to provide a global perspective. This program has funding for a North American Erasmus program. The undergraduate research experience is part of a much larger program that will expand inter-institution research at all levels, from undergraduate to graduate students to faculty. In this presentation, we review the inaugural program and the preliminary results. iURE is based upon the model of a successful National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) program. Seven undergraduates from diverse backgrounds and majors were selected via an internal competition at UTC. It was important to have a diverse, cross-disciplinary group of students. For this inaugural year, students came from the areas of political science, communications, business and finance, environmental science and biology. Assessment and outcomes were measured using both internal and external evaluations, including both a preflection and post-experience assessment tools. The iURE program is unique in several ways. It represents a true collaboration between UTC and UCA; both institutions have dedicated time and funds to the success of the program. This is not a program for course credit, but rather an intense research experience in the students’ field of interest. Faculty mentors were chosen based upon each student’s statement of research interests. Unlike Study Abroad programs, this program does not use UTC faculty, but rather uses local UCA faculty as research mentors for undergraduate students. Therefore, students work on individual research projects with a carefully chosen and assigned Spanish faculty member. At the termination of the program, each student was required to present their research. The expectation is that the majority of the projects will lead to peer-reviewed publications.