On September 10, 2018, CIRS formally launched the CIRS Undergraduate Research Advancement program (CURA) by hosting a reception that was attended by GU-Q students, staff, and faculty members. CURA aims to support GU-Q students in the development of their passion for research, by assisting them in developing new skills and providing opportunities for students to present on and publish their research findings.
During the launch, Professor Mehran Kamrava, Director of CIRS pointed out that CIRS has had a robust program of supporting student development since the earliest days of its establishment. He suggested that: “The CURA program gives coherence and direction to this effort by imparting on our students the skills to engage in in-depth research, to present the results of this research in an academic forum, and to publish it for wider audiences,” he said. “We are excited to be working with our CURA Fellows and with the broader student community to ensure CURA’s continued growth and success in the coming years.”
One aim of CURA is to help enrich the undergraduate experience by encouraging students to cultivate research skills beneficial to their studies and careers. To this end, CIRS will hold a research skills workshop each semester on the essential components of the research process and writing of scholarly papers. CURA workshops are open to all GU-Q students and are designed to offer hands-on experience, combining a presentation of techniques with hands-on application of the skills in peer-led group exercises. The first workshop, Designing a Research Question, takes place in October of this year, featuring a presentation by Professor Kamrava and facilitated by Elizabeth Wanucha, CIRS Project Manager, and Islam Hassan, CIRS Research Analyst.
“The CURA program gives coherence and direction to this effort by imparting on our students the skills to engage in in-depth research, to present the results of this research in an academic forum, and to publish it for wider audiences.”
Ayesha Iqbal (class of 2022) said by attending the workshop, she was able to narrow the scope of her research, and discern and access the relevant literature in the field. “CURA’s exercises, like mind-mapping, colleague critique, brainstorming sessions and, most importantly, Professor Kamrava’s guidance and expertise, have helped me construct my research question and formulate a sustainable research plan.” She added, “Research is at the heart of Georgetown and I am extremely excited to begin this journey with CURA.” The next workshop will be offered in early February, 2019. You can read more about the CURA Workshops here.
GU-Q students have the opportunity to conduct independent research and submit their work for consideration to the CURA Paper Series. The process of selecting papers is rigorous and competitive. This is an unparalleled opportunity for students to have their work professionally reviewed and published by a reputable source. The CURA Lunch Talk series is another initiative that will give students a platform to present their independent research in a public forum.
Nine GU-Q students joined CIRS as CURA Fellows for the 2018-19 school year; CURA Fellows work for the Center and are also mentored by CIRS staff in a range of areas. CURA Fellows provide research assistance, and also engage in tasks related to publication, administration, and project management. Fellows participate in peer mentorship programs designed to facilitate student to student learning, and also hone their analytical skills by convening one seminar each semester on a current CIRS research project. Fellows are invited to discuss papers written by experts in their respective fields, and share their conclusions with the authors of the papers in the CIRS Working Group organized around that research project.
Mehaira Mahgoub (class of 2019), a CIRS research fellow said, “As a senior preparing to enter the real world, I found the chance to develop my academic research skills with CIRS to be exciting and incredibly useful.” After joining the CIRS team, she said, “I was able to gain valuable insight on Middle Eastern and international politics from topics like the patterns of migration in the Middle East to Russian foreign policy.”
Khansa Maria, CIRS Project Assistant and CURA Fellow