The Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Scholars Program seeks to develop undergraduate research and leadership skills by supporting first-year students who wish to pursue innovative research projects that will help them develop the knowledge and skills to serve as future leaders in their respective fields.
The Scholarship Program funds up to 25 undergraduate students over two consecutive summers. Each summer, Scholars receive funding for 6 weeks to pursue a research project of their choosing in collaboration with a faculty mentor. The first summer, Scholars build research skills and begin to develop a research project; the second summer, Scholars engage more fully in an independent research project. Throughout the two summers, Scholars will participate in a series of seminars and retreats that explore the connections between critical thinking, current research, and ongoing and future contributions to the field. The program is designed to help students learn from one another as well as from leaders in the academic and professional world, by supporting their intellectual pursuits and their future growth.
The Laidlaw Scholarship consists of two components over the course of two six-week summer periods: a research project; and seminars and retreats that focus on honing research and leadership skills.
The first summer will consist of a combination of training on research fundamentals and disciplinary research on campus. The first week of the program will allow the entire cohort to explore topics such as searching for and discovering primary and secondary resources, as well as understanding “knowledge architecture,” from structures of information to the ethical implications of information use. The remaining five weeks will be divided between two strands of research: research training, with students divided into subgroups that are specifically geared towards the Scholars' discipline, and an individual research project.
The second summer, the student's independent research project will be the main focus. Working closely with the advice and guidance of a faculty mentor, the research can be a continuation of the research from the preceding summer, or a new project. Projects with an international focus are particularly welcome during this time, as the program supports those who wish to spend their second summer at an overseas university or doing fieldwork. Partnerships or collaborations with international universities who are fellow sponsors of the Laidlaw Research and Leadership Programme are strongly encouraged, including six partner programs in the United Kingdom (Durham University, the University College London, University of Leeds, University of Oxford, the University of St. Andrews, the University of York), and one partner program in the United States, Tufts University, which may provide further research resources and networking opportunities.
Seminar and Retreats
Laidlaw Scholars are expected to attend a combination of seminars and retreats that focus on developing their research skills and potential as future leaders in their fields. These meetings include workshops, trainings, speakers, and events, as well as mentoring opportunities in conjunction with the Laidlaw Symposium (see below). These begin the first week of the scholar’s first summer research period, and will include several meetings and retreats throughout the academic year in between the first and second summer research period. Participation in seminar and retreat activities is mandatory.
Following the summer research period, all Scholars are required to participate in a symposium by creating a poster, presentation or research paper explaining their project and research findings. The event will be open to the Columbia academic community, the Scholars' Mentors, and all cohorts of the Laidlaw Scholars Program. Each year the event is organized by Laidlaw Scholars who have completed their second summer of research in collaboration with the Laidlaw Coordinator within URF. In preparation for this event, Scholars must submit an abstract summarizing the results of their research conducted during the summer and Scholars are expected to have incorporated editorial advice from their mentors before submission.
Laidlaw Scholars receive housing on Columbia campus for Summer Session I. Should your research take you abroad for your second summer, the Program will cover the cost of housing up to, but not exceeding, the cost of housing on campus for Summer Session I. Laidlaw Scholars will also receive a weekly stipend to cover living and research expenses, and funding for travel.
Candidates for the Laidlaw Scholars Program must:
- Be first-year students in Columbia College;
- Be in good academic and disciplinary standing, with preference given to students who have a cumulative GPA not less than 3.3;
- Commit to performing research (6 weeks, 40 hours/week) and to attending the seminars and retreats during the summer following their first-year, the following academic year; and during the summer following their sophomore year (6 weeks, 40-hour/week);
- Commit to participating in a university wide symposium where all Laidlaw Scholars present their research findings through a poster or powerpoint.