Field Research Project
Independent undergraduate research has become a valued and important element in higher education and study abroad. Our dynamic world calls for students with leadership qualities, maturity, and the ability to work in an organized and independent way. Directing an in-depth research project enhances these skills and leaves students with a tangible representation of their hard work. The challenges of these projects are recognized not only in academia, but also in the job market, as highly transferable skills. When conducted abroad, research projects add a meaningful intercultural and integrative elements to students’ international experiences.
For twenty years, Lexia Study Abroad has been on the cutting edge of undergraduate research abroad, understanding the benefits of field-based learning alongside traditional classroom instruction. Coupled with a Research Methods Seminar, the Field Research Project offers Lexia students the opportunity to pursue an independent, self-designed project in a specialized field of interest supervised by a faculty member, professional, artist, architect, or other mentor. Students use their language skills and knowledge of the local culture and subject matter to investigate their selected topic(s).
For academic year students, one topic may be explored in-depth throughout the academic year or different topics may be chosen each semester.
"I really really really really really liked this aspect of the program. The Field Research Project really allowed me to express myself and follow my interests in a way that I have never been able to until now."
The following steps will help Lexia students navigate the experience of creating their own research project:
1. Pick a Lexia Location of Study
The research project is available at all of Lexia’s semester programs and may be accommodated on summer programs as well. The range of potential projects at each location is wide – from the role of sport or pop culture to the cultural impact of fine arts or ethnic minorities. Your Lexia advisor is happy to help you discuss your options at each location.
2. Generate a Proposal
Once abroad, students generate a proposal, which they refine with the help of both faculty members on-site and on their home campus. A faculty advisor on the student’s home campus can ensure that their research project will transfer to the student’s home institution for credit. They can also assist students in picking a topic that is feasible within the time frame and fits their major or other academic interests. The on-site professor helps the student connect with local resources, such as museums, libraries, events, and industry experts relevant to the research subject.
3. Conduct Research
Lexia students are challenged to use both experiential and classroom learning to investigate beyond the surface level of culture. Using both styles, students are able to maintain a high level of academic rigor while furthering their global understanding of the interdependent nature of culture, history, economics, politics, art and architecture. The culturally interactive nature of the research project is what makes it unique and helps students to integrate into the local community. Past students have spoken with local experts, including artists, politicians, professors, and other residents as part of their research.
The required local language course and the Area Studies and Culture Seminar give a depth of knowledge of the culture that would not happen otherwise. A researcher who is able to listen instead of speak, understand instead of assume, and synthesize instead of repeat adds to the academic conversation. Lexia students also aim to add to the global conversation, while simultaneously honoring the culture they study. Students spend a minimum of 60 hours per semester conducting research for their project and meet for a minimum of eight hours with their advisor and/or the Resident Director.
4. Finalize and Share
A week at the end of each semester is planned for the synthesis of the students’ findings, writing, or other work, followed by the presentation and discussion of the projects. The final product can take a variety of forms, but must express a rigorous, sustained inquiry into the chosen topic and demonstrate the student’s ability to engage with the resources available in their host city.
As academic fields vary greatly, each final piece is tailored to optimally demonstrate increased knowledge on the subject. For example, the final project for the architecture program usually takes the form of a proposal with a model and plan. For photography, a series of photos with a written analysis is appropriate. The social sciences, on the other hand, generally call for a 20-25 page research paper (40-50 pages for academic year students).
Grades for the field research project are based on the required paper or project, meetings with the advisor, and the final presentation. The on-site faculty advisor and the resident director make final grade assessments.
Research Methods Seminar
This seminar teaches a range of methods for engaging in sustained, original inquiry in the field. The seminar sets the framework for developing rigorous, individual projects. By exposing the students to the diverse environments within the community, this course encourages students to examine and revise their ideas of what it means for someone or something to be "from" their host city and country. By extension, students begin to question their own sense of self and to explore the culturally-embedded nature of identities in general.
The course introduces a variety of research skills, methodologies, and techniques including reading, listening, observing, choosing, questioning, summarizing, organizing, writing, presenting, and reflecting. A variety of techniques for collecting and analyzing data will also be examined.
Each city offers students myriad visual and cultural encounters, from architecture to the collections of images housed in museums, to the fascinating, often fleeting exchanges on every street corner and subway ride. Through a series of visual and writing exercises, students explore language ability, visual skills, and ethical issues, theorizing about experience and how to synthesize field knowledge into original work and/or formal academic writing.
Research Projects by Major
Lexia’s curriculum can cut across many different disciplines. The following is a list of research projects by major for which students have received academic credit at their home institutions. Projects are also located under Courses on each program page.
Architecture and Engineering
- An Archaeological Promenade: The New Entrance to Berlin’s Museumsinsel
- Influence of American Architecture in Post-Reunification Berlin
- Engineering Projects to Save Venice
- War Monuments in French Village Life
- Temple Architecture in Thailand
- Byzantine Architecture in Turkey
- Construction Techniques in Argentine Architecture
- Architectural Styles in the Neighborhoods of Cape Town
Arts and Humanities
- French “New Wave” Cinema of the 1950s and 1960s
- The History of US-German Relations
- German Expressionism and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
- The Cultural Role of the Tango in Argentina
- Secularism and Religious Tolerance in Turkey
- Roman Inscriptions at Sites in Rome
- Images of Shanghai in Chinese Literature
- Prague Jazz Culture
- The Progress of Corporate Social Responsibility in Argentina between 2000-2009
- China’s Economy in the 21st Century: Will it Sink or Swim?
- France and the Euro
- Catalonian Economic Development and Regional Business Culture
- Italian Business Practices
- Thailand’s Economy: an “Asian Tiger”?
- The Post-Apartheid Economy in South Africa
- The Marketing of Folklore in Transylvania
Communication, Media and Popular Culture
- Film, Media, and Popular Culture in Buenos Aires
- Perceptions of Consumerism in Chiang Mai, Thailand
- China and Censorship
- Fútbol Club Barcelona and the Dreams of the Catalans
- Journalism under Communism in Prague
- Turkish Newspapers in Berlin
- Technology Liberates: the Internet in China
- Perceptions of Women in Italian Media
- Elementary Schools and Child Development in South Africa
- Women in Education in Thailand
- Working in the Italian School System
- Study of a Chinese School
- Special Education Training in French Schools
- Popular Education in Argentina
- Improving Roma Education by Alleviating Poverty in Romania
- Education and Students of Immigrant Origin in Paris
Fine and Applied Arts
- A Study of Coloration, Figuration, and Iconography in Renaissance Art in Berlin
- Schall-Skulpturenpark in Berlin Zentrum: A Sound Installation Using Historical Artifacts
- The Venetian Landscape: A Photography and Site-Specific Installation Project
- The Berlin Portrait: A Photography Project Exploring Personal Identity in Berlin
- French Luxury in Men’s Fashion
- A Study of Bauhaus Drawing and Design Methods
- Contemporary Vocal Music in Italy
- A Study of Three Thai Artists
Health, Science and Technology
- Agriculture and Sustainability in Barcelona
- Environmental Degradation in South Africa’s Western Cape
- Shanghai: Environmental Considerations
- Large Farms and Small Businesses in Rural China
- Women’s Health in Argentina
- History of AIDS in France
- Health Care in Rome and Italy
- Gastronomy and Wine in Catalonia
- Roma Unemployment in Hungary and Romania
- The Aftermath of Political Trauma and the Construction of Social Memory in Argentina
- Identity and the Apartheid Legacy in South Africa
- Attitudes toward Homosexuality in Contemporary China
- The Roles of Women in Thailand
- The Berlin Wall and Berlin Youth Culture
- Lobbying in France
- The Prague Spring and US Foreign Policy