Learning by Doing: Using an Undergraduate Research Lab to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

Learning by Doing: Using an Undergraduate Research Lab to Promote Diversity and Inclusion

By Jeffrey Nonnemacher, University of Pittsburgh and Sarah Wilson Sokhey, University of Colorado Boulder

Undergraduate research labs have long been recognized as having educational and professional benefits, but much less attention has been given to how they can promote diversity and inclusion. Without a conscientious effort to promote these goals, labs are likely to replicate and perpetuate existing inequalities. This article discusses our experiences and lessons from launching an undergraduate research lab in a political science department at a research-oriented state university. It concludes with suggestions for other departments interested in starting undergraduate research labs. Promoting diversity and inclusion by working with undergraduates is unlikely if faculty are recruiting students individually outside of a lab, if the burden is on students to approach faculty, or if labs do not take practical steps to make this happen.

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