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 projects and community engagement that will help them develop the knowledge and skills to serve as future leaders in their respective fields.
Want to learn more? Read about becoming a Laidlaw scholar and the scholar experience from students of St. Andrew's University and/or watch "Become a Laidlaw Undergraduate Research & Leadership Scholar," from the Laidlaw Foundation.
The Scholarship Program funds up to 25 undergraduate students over two consecutive summers, before and after the sophomore year in the College. This program is funded by the Laidlaw Foundation, which has instituted similar programs at a number of leading universities in the United States and internationally, creating a robust network of scholars and alumni who are affiliated with the program.
The Scholarship provides 16 months of programming that begins in the spring semester of your first year in the College, and ends in the fall of your junior year in the College. These activities allow you to:
- Develop leadership skills through training and community engagement;
- Develop research and analytical skills and pursue a research project;
- Build your network by collaborating with leaders in your field, be they faculty members or community leaders;
- Learn from an academically talented community of students at Columbia and across the world who are future leaders in fields across the disciplines;
- Strengthen your resume and your competitiveness for future opportunities.
Six days of leadership training in May, September and February.
- Laidlaw Scholars are expected to attend a combination of seminars and retreats that focus on developing their potential as future leaders in their fields and their research skills. 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.
One summer research period of six weeks.
- The first summer (immediately following your first year in the College) will consist of a combination of training on leadership, research fundamentals and disciplinary research on campus. The first week of the program will include 2-3 days of leadership training and 2-3 days that focus on research skills and project development. The remaining five weeks will focus largely on each student's individual research project, with meetings to discuss questions, discoveries, challenges.
An immersive leadership activity of six weeks.
- This immersive activity will take place in the second summer of the program (following your second year in the College), and is meant to expand your leadership skills and to engage a community. There are a number of different frameworks that you may consider, including opportunities within the US and abroad. Scholars have the option to continue their research, either in the same location or in a different environment or location. The expectation is that this summer Scholars will build on the research of the previous summer, and that they will assume more responsibilities and/or a leadership role in their engagement with the topic. Alternatively, Scholars are welcome to apply the research they pursued in the previous summer to a field work position, and to consider roles in which they might pursue an 'applied research' opportunity. Finally, Scholars have the option to engage in an internship position that allows them to engage with a community that will benefit from their contributions, and that will allow them to utilize your leadership training. The goal of this second summer is to allow you to build on the skills you developed in your first year, and to provide you with the opportunity to contribute to or address a predicament or challenge of a community to which you are committed. (If this is a scholarly group, this might be an underexplored area of study; if this is a social group, this might be about an issue of, for example, injustice or underrepresentation; if this is an environmental group, it might address a specific area, such as climate change.)
The Laidlaw Foundation has curated a short list of Leadership-in-Action projects for Summer 2021. These options include research, community engagement, and leadership development. View the list here.
In addition, your leadership skills will be further honed by several contributions that you are expected to make to the Columbia community.
- Some possibilities include the following: you can serve as a peer-to-peer mentor for incoming Laidlaw Scholars; you can develop and lead a workshop for the incoming cohort of Laidlaw Scholars regarding your second summer experience; you can serve as an editor of the Columbia Laidlaw e-portfolio. All Laidlaw Scholars will be expected to develop a single slide and a three minute oral presentation about their summer projects that will be included in the Undergraduate Research Symposium (if the project is research related) or in a panel discussion for the Laidlaw community (if the project is an immersive leadership experience).
The first summer will consist of a combination of training on leadership, 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 focus largely on each student's individual research project, with meetings to discuss questions, discoveries, challenges. This first summer allows students to develop a research project while staying on Columbia's campus and working under the supervision of a Columbia faculty member. The duration of the program corresponds to Summer Session I.
The second summer, the student can purse an immersive leadership activity that is meant to expand the student's leadership skills and their engagement with the broader community. Students may pursue a research project, a fieldwork opportunity, or an immersive global experience. Projects or experiences with an international focus are particularly welcome, 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 also possible, 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 our 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 with a welcome dinner following admission into the program. They will continue 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 broader public, and all cohorts of the Laidlaw Scholars Program. 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. Students who pursue research the second summer will likewise be expected to participate in the symposium. Those Laidlaw Scholars who instead opt for an immersive experience will be expected to share their experiences with the Columbia community in other formats.
Laidlaw Scholars in their first summer in the program receive housing on Columbia campus for Summer Session I. Should your project 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. Additional funding is available to support travel in the second summer of the program.
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 the program full-time (research or community engagement), which means 6 consecutive weeks, 40 hours/week.
- Commit 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.
- Commit to attending the seminars and retreats that take place in the fall semester (in September) and in the spring semester (in February).
- Commit to participating in a university wide symposium where all Laidlaw Scholars present their research findings through a poster (following the first summer).
- Commit to participating in a university wide symposium (if you conducted research) in the fall semester following your second summer as a Laidlaw Scholar. If your summer experience was an immersive leadership experience, you will be expected to share your experience and your leadership skills with the Columbia community by leading a discussion or developing a workshop.