Aren’t all heroes just humans who, given a set of circumstances, have stepped up to solve a problem?
This idea is the central theme to “Humans and Heroes,” the INQR 1000 theme for the 2016-18 academic years.
INQR 1000 is a one-credit hour, small group, discussion-based course designed to engage freshman and sophomore students in the discovery, exploration and analysis of ideas that faculty members, across a variety of disciplines, study and navigate.
“The course provides an experiential learning opportunity where students and faculty work together to ask and answer a question that students are interested in exploring,” said Dr. Adam Wyatt, associate vice president for academic affairs and student success.
According to Elizabeth Huggins, director of first and second year experience, the idea behind INQR 1000 originated several years ago.
“A couple of years ago, a group of faculty from every department on campus that taught undergraduate students came up with a really innovative idea of what to do with this one-credit hour that we had in which every single academic unit could play a role,” she said.
The 10-week course is designed to introduce students to research.
“It pushes students’ boundaries and takes them from being receivers of knowledge to actively engaging with a question and producing and communicating the answers to their questions,” Wyatt said.
INQR 1000 culminates with an academic expo where students present group projects via posters, PowerPoints and other visual demonstrations of learning.
“Students often say this has been a really unique experience,” Huggins said. “Students say they’ve never had an experience where they got to take complete ownership of a project, and they like it.”
INQR 1000 is a theme-based class, and each theme lasts for two academic years. “Food for Thought” was the original theme for the course.
“The first two years of INQR 1000, we wanted to establish some sort of an umbrella theme that faculty could hook into,” Huggins said. “It was a good theme for any discipline to use. You could focus on the history of food or the psychology of food, for example.”
The new theme, “Humans and Heroes,” was voted on by students.
“INQR faculty came up with a list of about 20 topics, and those were then narrowed down to three which students voted on,” Huggins said.
Both electronic and face-to-face methods were used to garner votes. Of the votes received, 51 percent of students voted on the humans and heroes theme.
Huggins is excited about the research possibilities this theme could explore.
“There are scientists out there that have done heroic things and are involved with cutting edge technology and research,” she said. “We have people like this on our own Health Sciences Campus. I think this can be very invigorating for our students. We can offer them different perspectives, and in doing so, they can really develop a critical-thinking mind.”
INQR 1000 fulfills the core course requirement in Area B and is unlike other Area B courses in the University System of Georgia, according to Huggins.
“Because we’re a research institution, this is a way we can start scaffolding research opportunities on our own campus,” she said. “It pairs nicely with our mission statement.”
Faculty who are interested in teaching the INQR 1000 course using the “Humans and Heroes” theme may submit their proposal Feb. 1 through Feb. 15. Faculty will be notified by Feb. 19 if their proposal is selected.
For the first time, there will be faculty development grants associated with the course. Faculty who teach an INQR 1000 course are eligible to receive $1,000 for professional development.
This grant is available in the fiscal year immediately following the year a faculty member teaches INQR 1000, explains Wyatt. It may be used for research materials, travel for research purposes or attendance at a conference, for example.