Introduction to International Field Research Methods
UMBC International Field Research Program
Internationalizing UMBC’s Distinctive Undergraduate Experience
UMBC is nationally recognized as a research University with strengths in STEM education and an ethnically diverse student body. The International Field Research Program (IFR) provides an innovative approach to help students prepare for the realities of a global economy. UMBC has a solid track record in providing an international research experience for students and in attracting donor support. Since 2000, IFR has engaged more than 150 students, from over 20 majors and six graduate programs, with field research experiences in seven countries. Now UMBC Departments and Programs can partner with the IFR Program to offer customized, high-impact opportunities for their students as a part of UMBC’s distinctive undergraduate experience.
The introductory course for IFR is HAPP 403/SOCY 663: Introduction to International Field Research Methods. During spring semester students study research methods, complete background research, and write a research paper as part of an interactive weekly seminar class. During the spring, IFR participants contact UMBC faculty with research interests similar to their own to complete an “expert interview”. Students are assigned to a research team based on their topic and select related field research exercises to complete during a required one-week field experience in Switzerland. Field research methods include: site visits, expert interviews, participant observation, local informants, literature review, case studies, visual methods, administrative data and historical sources. HAPP 403 fulfills UMBC culture requirements for GEP and GFR. A hybrid course format was implemented in 2012. A linked Physical Education class enables students to get PE credit to condition for alpine hiking that relates to their field observations.
Following their introductory experience, students often choose to continue their international studies by working with their mentors through independent study, applying for Undergraduate Research Awards, Fulbright Fellowships, taking related courses at UMBC and participating in other international study opportunities.
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology coordinates the academic program, which features an interdisciplinary faculty. UMBC International Educational Services provides administrative support. The Dean of Undergraduate Education provides marketing and communications assistance. UMBC Athletics Department offers the linked physical education class. The New Media Studio provides support for Visual Digital Storytelling. Financial Support is provided by The UMBC Provost’s Office; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences; and private donors.