The Hispanic Studies faculty are profoundly committed to creating and fostering opportunities for our students to participate in meaningful research, both at home and abroad. Faculty-student teams have worked together on collaborative projects based on a wide array of international topics. In recent years, these have included: recent trends in Cuban filmmaking; the cultural history and contemporary practices related to the famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage; the environmental documentary of Costa Rica; immigration experience located at the U.S./Mexican border; new directions for cross-cultural educational partnerships with public schools in Managua, Nicaragua; Spain's new Law of Historical Memory and the sites of civil war memory in Spain today (read blogs).
Our program also offers opportunities for students to conduct research through our ongoing summer and semester programs abroad. All participants in our Spanish-language intensive summer program in Cádiz, Spain --while living with host families and enrolling in two courses with local faculty-- design and complete a project under the supervison of the faculty director.
For the innovative Camino de Santiago summer program, students retrace the pilgrimage routes of medieval Spain, donning backpacks for up to 500 miles. Every student pilgrim develops a research portfolio in advance of the trip and carries out field work during the long walk.
As is the case in all Hispanic Studies scholarship at W&M, the study of cultural production (journalism, art, literature, photography, film) is at the core of all of these summer initiatives. Because Hispanic Studies scholarship is interdisciplinary, summer research links the study of culture to other disciplines like history, sociology, or public health. Because Hispanic Studies scholarship encourages investigation beyond the classroom, student research abroad routinely includes meetings with local scholars, students and professionals. Faculty encourage you to participate in these summer research programs anytime after your freshman year (recommended level of Spanish is HISP 207 or its equivalent). Our semester program in La Plata, Argentina, is the ideal venue for students interested in research about human rights and social justice. Students opting for the semester in Sevilla, Spain, can investigate contemporary Spanish social issues related to their possible volunteer placement in local NGOS.
The Hispanic Studies curriculum in general has been designed to help students formulate compelling research questions and engage in independent academic work at an advanced level. You will find that our faculty strongly support students in their efforts to obtain research funding to defray the costs of conducting independent projects of particular interest. Students interested in research grant support should become familiar with excellent grant opportunities available through the Charles Center.
We highlight here two especially noteworthy research courses available on campus. All majors enroll in our Senior Research in Hispanic Studies (HISP 493), an innovative, faculty team-taught seminar that affords each student the opportunity to develop an independent project based on his or her particular interest in the field of Hispanic Studies scholarship. Additionally, rising seniors who are eligible may apply for a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis course (HISP 495-496), working one-on-one throughout the year with a thesis advisor. Interested students should consult the Charles Center website to learn how to apply for Honors research.