Pillars of Research

Contribute to cutting-edge scholarship and gain valuable research skills in a supportive community of peers and professors with the Pillars of Research Learning Community (PRLC).

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Contribute to Research of Consequence

Become a World-Class Researcher

Open to all students, the Pillars of Research LC offers the opportunity to gain hands-on research and analytic skills while contributing to topics of interest and gaining class credit. Students in the semester long community will earn 1 credit of GOVT 399.

As a part of Pillars of Research, students have the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) conducting a hands-on research project under the mentorship of a Schar School faculty member.  Students serving as an undergraduate research assistant earn 1-3 additional credits of GOVT 399.

Pictured, left: Former Pillars of Research student, Delaney Soliday, presenting her award-winning research project entitled “The Taliban Over Time: A Diachronic Case Study of Governance in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”

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"I joined the Pillars of Research Community in the fall semester and decided to continue throughout the spring because it gave me so many useful research resources. I also loved the opportunities to talk to non-government organizations, such as Freedom House!"

- Ruth Wolde-Semayat

Ruth Wolde-Semayat
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A Community of Scholars

Students will have a wide-range of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Weekly discussions on research topics with speakers, scholars, and experts;
  • Facilitated coffee-house conversations around topics related to research and scholarship, including methodology, research design, data management and analysis, and working with institutional review boards;
  • Skills workshops on poster design and presentations for both professional and academic audiences;
  • Presentation practice sessions with peer feedback and facilitated workshopping of ideas; and
  • A trip each semester to a Washington, D.C.-area research organization such as the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Council on Foreign Relations, or Brookings Institution.
Pillars of Research scavenger hunt
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Pillars of Research trip to the Library of Congress

A Memorable Year

Past events have included:  

  • A class field trip to the Library of Congress for a customized tour and a chance to pick up a Reader Card 
  • Notable speakers including senior editor at Foreign Affairs Justin Vogt, and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and Schar School professor Steven Pearlstein 
  • An opportunity to present at the Schar School Research Fair. Read more about the Spring 2022 winner, a Pillars of Research student, here 

Meet the Pillars of Research Learning Community Director

Professor Heba F. El-Shazli

For any questions or to learn more, contact: helshazl@gmu.edu