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Arts research award to be scaled down

Funding for summer internships with profs runs out

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The Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Awards (ARIA) is facing downsizing now that the lump sum fund, which had been granted in 2009, has run out.

The Arts Internship Office (AIO), which put on the awards program, is working to fundraise for its continuation, though on a smaller scale.

ARIA was originally designed to run for a two-year period – the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years – providing 70 undergraduate Arts students with the funding to work one-on-one with a McGill professor on a variety of research projects, to be completed over an 11-week period over the summer.

The fund was given to the AIO, which then designed the idea for the ARIA program. Each student was awarded $2,000 to $4,000 from the fund itself, and an additional $2,000 matched by the participating professor.

While ARIA gave recipients opportunities to get hands-on research experience and work directly with professors, the initial funding from the Faculty was only enough to support two years of the awards program.

Anne Turner, the Faculty of Arts internship manager for the AIO, said that finding funding for the program was a “priority” and that they were “trying to get the pool [of funds] as big as they can.” Despite these downsizings, Turner and the internship program administrator for the AIO Matthew Lyle both emphasized the importance of the awards and their continuation.
Prior to the introduction of ARIA, Turner said that “there was all this research going on, but there was no sort of formal process” for arranging undergraduate student-professor research opportunities.

Tyler Call, an honours philosophy student, worked with Professor Dirk Schlimm on a project titled ‘The Works of Moritz Pasch” this summer.

“I learned a lot in terms of content and how to do research – and do it well – and be very organized about my research,” said Call.

“It’s a good opportunity and I got to learn a lot and do what I like to do and get paid for it so,” he continued.

According to Lyle, the AIO aimed for the awards to be “evenly spread out among the [Arts] departments.”

Examples of past projects include “Canada’s Looming Demographic Fiscal Squeeze” in the economics department, “Aesthetics and Politics in Contemporary Iran” in the middle east studies department, and “A Sociological Analysis of the Use of Deadly Force From 1977-2010” in the  sociology department.

“I would do it again,” said Call. “I don’t know if I’m eligible to do it again – as far as I was told once you do it they kind of want new people to do it every year – but I would definitely do it again.”

Lyle added that the popularity of the awards program has shown the AIO “a need for other efforts to promote undergraduate research.”

Some of these other efforts include the Arts Undergraduate Research Event, in which students can showcase any research efforts done throughout the year, and research workshops entitled MyArtsResearch.

The Arts Undergraduate Society confirmed their intention to provide funding for the program in the future, although exact figures have not yet been decided on.

— with files from Erin Hudson