My student research journey began freshman year in Dr. Bryan Luther’s “SciFi Cinema: Filming the Future” inquiry seminar.
In that class I was introduced to not only my first real research project (and first 20-page paper!), but I was brought into the world of the researching issues and topics that may or may not have a right answer.
Coming to college, I naively thought that research was something you did to write a paper and get a grade. In “SciFi Cinema, ” I woke up to the notion that research isn't about getting a grade; research is about walking bravely into new territory to emerge with the ability to shed light where there was uncertainty before.
Researching as an undergraduate student pulls aspects of the entire student experience together. As a liberal arts college, Concordia represents a plethora of experiences that result in a comprehensively developed student learning experience. As students, we are taught to seek out experiences that make us well-rounded, thoughtful, informed and complete people.
With all research, you begin with a question. Questioning the world around you leads to discovery of the current situation and, by extension, a revelation of problems. Leaning on critical-thinking skills to develop thoughts and questions about the world and problem-solving skills to go about solving the problems discovered, research begins by deconstructing and constructing world-views revolving around how to best influence the affairs of the world.
In my experience, student research has helped me to discover connections between events that others may not have been able to see. The difference is asking “why” rather than “how.” Being a student researcher, I challenged myself to analyze and ask “why” something was happening. This was most evident in my research on political campaigns. Rather than asking, “how is this political campaign doing well?” I asked the question “why is this political campaign doing well?” This led to forming connections that were previously unclear.
Perhaps the most important skill I gained from undergraduate student research is how to bring together my knowledge and experience gained to the world. I was fortunate enough to have not only one but two projects selected for presentation at the annual Celebration of Student Scholarship (COSS). Participating in this celebration means that all of the hard work and time put into researching does not just end when the final grade is given out. But by sharing this research, the world can be challenged to utilize new information to understand or change.
I take pride in my research as an undergraduate student. Knowing that you are improving the world with your contributions is one of the best feelings in the world. Being able to have a valuable piece of work that is commented on and challenged by others provides a great sense of accomplishment.
Student research is a great way to combine becoming thoughtful and informed with becoming responsibly engaged in the world. Not only does research benefit the researcher, it also benefits all who are exposed to the researchers’ questions and insights. This is one of the most beneficial experiences I have had at Concordia, and I highly recommend every student take on a substantial research project and have the courage to present it to the public.
Be brave, research often, and share your light with the world.
Ian Jahnig '17 is studying business marketing and public relations at Concordia.