Summer Research College Benefits Student Researchers

In 2013, 45 students participated in Summer Research College, a program that gives Stanford undergraduates the opportunity to assist faculty with research...

Over the summer, 45 students participated in Summer Research College, a program that gives Stanford undergraduates the opportunity to assist faculty with research during the 10-week break. Students were matched with faculty mentors and participated in research about international relations, history, and political science.

Topics in political science ranged from racial identity and political attitudes to corporate environmentalism. Research projects of the international relations program included the politics of energy, regulating trade and investment, and political violence in Iraq.

International relations student Claire Colberg, ’14, mapped militant organizations while serving as a research assistant for Prof. Martha Crenshaw. Claire credits the opportunity to build relationships with faculty as a notable benefit of the program.

“The best part of Summer Research College is the opportunity to interact with professors and faculty in the Political Science and International Relations Departments,” she said. “Especially for younger students, this is an invaluable opportunity to get to know faculty and learn from them. Some may also find an advisor.”

Among other benefits, all selected research assistants received a $6,000 stipend to cover housing on campus and living expenses over the summer.

“The program also offers seminars twice a week on research methods, game theory, and graduate school, among other topics,” Colberg continued, “so there are plenty of opportunities to learn while still working on your projects.”

During these seminars, students exchange ideas with their peers, discuss their projects and highlight their findings.

“Students go in depth with their faculty mentor, but they also get exposed to other projects by other research teams,” said Professor Michael Tomz, director of both departments’ programs.

Caitlyn LittlepageCaitlyn Littlepage, ’16, partnered with Prof. Gary Cox to study the constitutional history of fiscal autocracy. Littlepage said that Summer Research College prepared her for what to expect as she pursues her degree.

“This experience has been extraordinarily valuable in giving me insight into the reality of political science research,” she commented, “which I believe will aid me enormously moving forward, possibly completing my own research for an honor’s thesis and going into graduate school.”

Students and faculty interested in participating in Summer Research College next summer should contact Christelle Anne Sheldon (sheldon1 [at] at the start of winter quarter.

International Relations is an interdisciplinary undergraduate major focusing on the changing political, economic and cultural relations within the international system in the modern era. The program explores how global, regional, and domestic factors influence relations between actors on the world stage.