Society Supports Self-Directed Undergraduate Research and Scholarship
Chestertown, MD, March 20, 2002 — Washington College's Society of Junior Fellows (SJF) will celebrate its first decade with an Anniversary Symposium on Wednesday, March 27, 2002, from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center. The symposium will feature presentations of undergraduate research and scholarship sponsored and funded by the Society.
Founded in 1992 and modeled after Harvard University's Society of Fellows, Washington College's SJF gives undergraduates a taste of academic freedom through the opportunity to pursue their own self-designed and self-directed studies. Membership is open to all upperclassmen that have attained Dean's List status, have a cumulative GPA of 3.4, and have demonstrated leadership qualities through extra-curricular activities and community outreach.
"The Society extends a privilege and an obligation normally reserved for graduate students and faculty," says J. David Newell, chair of the philosophy department and curator of Washington College's SJF program. "Grants are given to SJF members who submit proposals to fund projects that will extend their learning beyond the classroom and the textbook into the realm of the experiential. In turn, these students return to campus and contribute to the intellectual life of the College. It gives undergraduates a taste of the 'real world' of academic research and scholarship."
The average size of a grant is about $3,300, says Newell, and the SJF gives out almost $95,000 per year in total grant money.
The ultimate object of the SJF is to motivate students beyond the classroom, with the goal to empower and to build self-confidence, personal maturity, and competency in undergraduates. Representing about 10 percent of the College's student body, the SJF has created a collegium of students dedicated to the exchange of ideas, motivated to enrich their educational experiences, and setting standards of excellence for the entire student body.
"I like to refer to these students in Platonic terms," says Newell. "They are 'the brightest and the best.'"
The SJF has admitted just over 200 students since its inception. Competition for grants is intense—only about one-third of SJF members receive them each year. It has funded hundreds of projects and internships since its inception and financed travel for students to conduct research in over 18 countries. Recent projects have taken students to Cuba, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland and South Africa.
For more information about Washington College's Society of Junior Fellows, visithttp://sjf.washcoll.edu.