Research in the Social Sciences

By Jackson Moore-Otto (CAS’22)

For this blog post, I’d like to discuss research in the social sciences: both why I recommend it, and some of the unique benefits and challenges.

Even if you don’t plan on going to graduate school, undergraduate research provides a unique opportunity to work on issues of personal interest under the mentorship of an expert in the field. It’s also versatile: it can be done during the semester or over the summer, largely individually or as part of a much larger group, and as a way to learn about a topic or a capstone to one’s studies.

Research can also provide a chance to explore areas not covered in traditional coursework. For example, last summer I had the chance to conduct research on how the public involvement process, and local opposition, increase the cost of infrastructure projects. This is something I’ve long been interested in, but would have had little chance to explore in my coursework as an Economics and Mathematics major. This also offered me the chance to meet faculty in the Political Science department, and exposed me to another intellectual universe. Involvement in research was an intellectual springboard for me: it clarified my interests and increased my own confidence.

While social science research can be uniquely rewarding and impactful, there are some unique challenges. Compared to the natural sciences, it can be harder to find an existing project to attach oneself.

This is where Kilachand can make a difference. The close relationships forged with faculty–particularly through the first-year seminars–can provide a leg up in research, and in everything else.