Festival of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (FURCA)
The Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) launched at the University of Alberta in 2011 with a bold vision: to create a culture in which every undergraduate student has opportunities to engage in research and creative activities, both in and out of the classroom. Why? Because we believe that undergraduate students deserve the very best that a research-intensive institution has to offer: high-impact, hands-on experiences at the cutting edge of human knowledge -- the opportunity to put their ideas and their curiosity to work.
How do we support students?
So far, the Undergraduate Research Initiative has funded more than 120 interdisciplinary undergraduate research projects. We’ve helped thousands of other aspiring researchers take their first steps by providing one-on-one advising, research skill development workshops, and other research-related activities. But creating a campus-wide culture of undergraduate research requires more than supporting individual students. It takes a community of passionate and curious people who believe, as we do, that students don’t come to university to just absorb knowledge. Undergraduate research provides opportunities for students to take charge of their learning -- to learn how to think critically, ask questions, express ideas, to discover how they can become active, engaged citizens and leaders.
Last year, we launched the University of Alberta’s first ever campus-wide Festival of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (FURCA). Our goal is to bring together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community to celebrate the creativity and innovation of our undergraduate students. With FURCA, unlike many discipline-specific events, students have opportunities to practice sharing their research with and learning from people outside their own areas of expertise. We believe that supporting students in meaningful and diverse interactions will help them develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for them to thrive as members of interdisciplinary teams, no matter what their future career goals might be.
In its inaugural year, FURCA brought together more than 25 groups and reached more than 2000 students from across all disciplines. You can check out some of the highlights here.
This year, FURCA’s back, with more of what students have told us they’re looking for:
- Opportunities to explore undergraduate research & creative activities. (e.g. Research Crawls)
- Events & activities that empower students to take their first steps (or next steps!) in research. (e.g. our first-ever Undergraduate Research Resource Fair)
- A celebration of enlightening research and creative activities by University of Alberta students. (e.g. the Undergraduate Research Symposium, Awards Reception & Keynote Performance)
How can I help?
We invite you to help support this emerging culture of undergraduate research by becoming part of it! We are crowdfunding to raise money to support FURCA events, but also to provide a mechanism for the whole community to get involved in our celebration of undergraduate research. Every contribution in support of FURCA sends a clear message to our students: The University of Alberta is a place where their questions matter.
Where will your money go?
The funds we raise will help cover costs associated with running various events throughout FURCA, as well as monetary awards for outstanding undergraduate research in several categories, including interdisciplinary research and creative activities. (For a list of last year’s award recipients, click here).
What events are happening during FURCA this year?
Here are some of the major events happening during FURCA this year:
- Nov 3: Faculty Showcase: Highlights outstanding examples of course-based undergraduate research at the University of Alberta, and ways that students are exposed to research through their courses.
- Nov 7-8: Tomorrow’s Ideas, Now: Hacking Social & Cultural Innovation: A hands-on, interdisciplinary event focused on developing undergraduate projects related to social & cultural innovation.
- Nov 10: Research Crawls: Interactive guided tours of different research facilities on campus. It's a fun way for students to see behind the scenes of research and discover the diverse interdisciplinary research opportunities at the University of Alberta.
- Nov 13: Undergraduate Research Symposium: The marquee event of FURCA is our annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, where students from across all disciplines gather to share their research through posters, performances or other demonstrations.
- Nov 14: Undergraduate Research Resource Fair: The Resource Fair helps empower students to get started in research by connecting them with organizations and resources that support undergraduate research and related activities.
- Nov 14: Awards Reception & Keynote Performance (GWG Piece by Piece, with University of Alberta alumna, Maria Dunn. Read a profile of Maria here!)
Only 2 days left -- and why undergraduate research isn't just good for students
Published on Monday, Oct. 27, 2014 at 09:25 PM (MST)
Although our crowdfunding campaign may be winding down, FURCA itself is just starting to warm up. FURCA launches exactly one week today, on November 3rd! Our "What's UR Question?" lawn signs are going up around campus as we speak, and our team is busy making all the final preparations for next week's events. There is a FURCA'n buzz in the air!
But FURCA is also more than just a celebration. Everything we do at URI is focused on student skill development -- helping students put their education to work. Last week, the Globe and Mail published their annual Canadian University Report, which examines the quality of the student experience at various Canadian post-secondary institutions. One article in this year's report focuses on bridging the "expectation gap" -- ways students and institutions are working to ensure that educational experiences meet the needs of students after they graduate.
We often talk about the benefits of undergraduate research for students, but undergraduate research is also of tremendous value to employers. According to a 2013 Job Outlook Survey by the National Association of Colleges & Employers, the following skills top the list of qualities rated as most important for applicants to possess:
- the ability to communicate effectively
- the ability to work as part of a team
- the ability to solve problems
- the ability to prioritize work
FURCA is meant to be fun, but our emphasis on student skill development is maintained through all of our events. Here are some of the ways FURCA supports students in developing the skills employers want:
- Our Social & Cultural Innovation "hackathon" (Nov 7-8) will bring students together in interdisicplinary teams to solve problems affecting the campus community. Our keynote speaker, Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, will emphasize the importance of students' leadership skills and their role as agents for change.
- Our Research Crawls (Nov 10) give students an opportunity to explore what research looks like in different fields, learn about potential research-related career paths, and connect with potential research opportunities in their field of interest.
- The Undergraduate Research Symposium (Nov 13) is all about interdisciplinary communication. Here, we take students out of their traditional disciplinary context and challenge them to "talk nerdy" with people from other disciplines. Judges will provide constructive feedback, and awards will be given for outstanding communication & interdisciplinarity.
- The Undergraduate Research Resource Fair (Nov 14) encourages students to take action -- to get involved, to connect with the resources they need to be successful in their research, and to feel empowered to take control of their undergraduate experience.
- Please contribute to our campaign now. We only have 2 days left, and we rely on your support to provide these kinds of experiences for our students!
- Please share our campaign with your networks -- whether you're a student, a parent, an alumnus, or an employer -- we all know someone who benefits from undergraduate research. If all our supporters and advocates could reach out to just one person, we'd reach our goal in no time at all!
Link to this Update
Interdepartmental Science Students' Society (ISSS)
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Make an Impact
Ask a question!
In undergraduate research, everything starts with a question -- and a question can take you anywhere! By helping us raise awareness of undergraduate research through FURCA, you’ll be helping to ignite students’ curiosity. It starts here!
You've got a great question. Now what? The next step in undergraduate research is to dig deeper and learn more about the topic. By supporting FURCA, you’ll be helping us empower students to take those first steps toward independent research, through events like our Undergraduate Research Resource Fair.
Get your hands dirty
Undergraduate research is all about hands-on experience. Your support of FURCA will help us facilitate Research Crawls and other events where students can explore potential projects and connect with mentors and other students.
Research isn't just about satisfying students’ curiosity -- it’s also a chance to develop practical skills, and discover new and exciting career paths. Your support helps students experience the thrill of discovery.
Sharing new knowledge and inspiring others to ask new questions is one of the most important stages of the research process. FURCA events, such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium, allow students to share their work and learn from one another. Your support helps recognize students as active and valued contributors to the research community.
One of the goals of the Undergraduate Research Initiative is to foster a culture of undergraduate research at the University of Alberta. Events like FURCA are a “snapshot” of what that culture might look like -- each successful FURCA event brings us one step closer to our vision of making undergraduate research accessible to every student.
Uplift the whole people
The University of Alberta’s founding president, HM Tory, believed that “The people demand that knowledge shall not alone be the concern of scholars..” Undergraduate research helps equip students -- our future alumni -- to be engaged citizens and leaders, realizing Tory’s dream of “uplifting the whole people.” Your support of FURCA is just the beginning.