Contacts | Program of Study | Curricular Goals | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | BA Paper Timeline | Sample Programs | Application | Grading | Honors | Advising | Faculty | Courses for IRHUM Majors | Courses

Department Website: https://college.uchicago.edu/academics/ir-hum

Program of Study

The bachelor of arts degree program in Inquiry and Research in the Humanities (IRHUM) offers undergraduates the opportunity to pursue an individualized program of humanistic study in preparation of an independent, mentored research project, which will form the capstone experience of their college education at the University of Chicago. IRHUM is thus not defined by a particular discipline or field, but by the techniques and practices of humanistic inquiry and research. For individual students pursuing the IRHUM major, cohesion is provided by the program of humanistic study, formal research training, and the final research project they design in consultation with the Faculty Chair of IRHUM and their faculty mentor. While the IRHUM major can stand alone, it pairs well with other majors in the Humanities Collegiate Division and beyond.

Admission to IRHUM is by application, in which students must clearly articulate their interest in humanistic research and describe the area of humanistic inquiry and research that they plan to pursue. Students design their own program of humanistic study in close consultation with IRHUM’s Faculty Chair and their individual faculty mentor (who will serve as the primary advisor of the student’s BA research project). Centered in the humanities, the program of study may draw on subject areas, fields, and techniques from disciplines in the social, biological, and physical sciences. While IRHUM has no formal language requirement, students researching topics in other languages and cultures are highly encouraged to demonstrate proficiency in those languages by taking higher-level courses and pursuing a Practical and Advanced Proficiency Certification. Students whose research would be enhanced by secondary sources in another language are highly recommended to take courses in reading a foreign language for research (e.g., GRMN 23333 Reading German for Research Purposes) early in their degree programs.

A student’s program of inquiry culminates in a genuine research project, closely mentored by a faculty member from a humanistic discipline (including the humanistic social sciences). To prepare students for their capstone research project, they will be trained in techniques and practices of humanistic research and given the opportunity to engage in genuine research in the context of a collaborative project or in a directed setting. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the various initiatives underway at the University of Chicago (College Summer Institute in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Smart Scholars Program, Archaeological Field School, etc.) or with our international partners (the University of Sussex International Junior Research Associates Program, etc.).

Curricular Goals

IRHUM majors will:

  • understand the nature of humanistic inquiry and research;

  • understand its relevance for professional and academic careers, as well as global citizenship;

  • learn how to design and conduct an individualized program of humanistic study and inquiry;

  • learn the conventions and codes of the disciplines on which their study and research program draws;

  • learn basic research techniques of humanistic inquiry and the more advanced research practices relevant to their chosen research program;

  • learn how to search and find sources;

  • effectively engage with primary materials of study and research (visual and material objects, archival materials, texts, theories, arguments, etc.) and evaluate their relevance;

  • learn how to find, identify, and evaluate relevant secondary scholarly literature;

  • experience the thrill of genuine discovery and the rewards of humanistic knowledge production;

  • learn how to effectively design, structure, and write an extended research paper, as well as research abstracts, proposals, and program applications; and

  • learn to present and communicate their knowledge and research in a variety of genres and media (conference presentation, conference poster, gallery or museum talk, research article, etc.), both to a discipline-specific audience and to the wider public.

Program Requirements

  • Six Courses in the self-designed program of humanistic study, developed in consultation with the Faculty Chair of IRHUM and a faculty mentor.

  • Academic and Professional Writing (ENGL 13000) , recommended in the Winter or Spring Quarters of Year 2, or in the Autumn Quarter of Year 3.

  • Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design (IRHU 20100) , recommended in the Spring Quarter of Year 2 or Autumn Quarter of Year 3. This seminar will introduce majors to the basic tenets of humanistic inquiry, including the formulation and testing of research questions and lines of inquiry, and expose students to best practices in research design. In partnership with the University Library, this course will train students in information literacy and introduce them to best practices in research design (feasibility, assessment of primary and secondary source material, collation of resources), as well as expose them to research ethics and the principles of culturally sensitive research practices. The course will also include training in data use and management, and introduce students to research tools and technology available to them through the University Library system, as well as other on- and off-campus resources.

  • Two Research Seminars in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. This requirement may be fulfilled with Independent Study or Reading and Research courses.

  • Applied Mentored Research Experience, undertaken in the context of a collaborative, faculty- or discipline-expert mentored project. This experience will not necessarily correlate to the students’ own research project but instead expose them to the work of knowledge production as “apprentices” to experts in a humanistic field. This could include opportunities within a structured research experience with College partners (Smart Museum of Art, Oriental Institute Museum, archaeological fieldwork, the University of Sussex International Junior Research Associates Program, etc.) or a research assistantship for a faculty member. Majors will receive a stipend and, therefore, no course credit for this requirement. A mentored research experience in the biological, physical, or social sciences may count toward this requirement by petition.

  • Research Proposal Colloquium (IRHU 29600) in the Spring Quarter of Year 3. Upon approval of their research proposal, students will receive the necessary financial support to pursue their research project over the summer between Years 3 and 4. Stipends cover living costs and may support travel and other necessary expenses in support of their research project. The College Summer Institute in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is aimed toward rising seniors and provides, thus, the ideal setting for IRHUM majors working on their research project.

  • BA Thesis Writing Colloquium (IRHU 29800) in the Autumn Quarter of Year 4. Students are expected to complete their thesis by the end of the Autumn Quarter.

  • In the Winter and Spring Quarters of Year 4, majors are expected to present their capstone research project to a wider audience by giving an academic talk at a conference, presenting a poster session, etc., for which IRHUM will provide the necessary financial support, as needed.

  • Majors are strongly encouraged to consider the curricular offerings of the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse, as well as the resources and training offered through the College Center for Research and Fellowships.

Note: Students double-majoring can double-count up to three of the six courses in the self-designed program of humanistic study between the two majors and write only a single BA thesis (counting for both majors). IRHU 29600 Research Proposal Colloquium and IRHU 29800 BA Thesis Writing Colloquium cannot be  replaced by similar courses or seminars from other majors.

Summary of Requirements

Six courses of self-designed study600
ENGL 13000Academic and Professional Writing (The Little Red Schoolhouse)100
IRHU 20100Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design100
Two Humanistic Research Seminars200
Applied Mentored Research Experience000
IRHU 29600Research Proposal Colloquium100
IRHU 29800BA Thesis Writing Colloquium100
Total Units1200

BA Paper Timeline

The final BA research project, usually taking the form of a written thesis, is carefully scaffolded. Students design their research project in consultation with their faculty mentor during the course of IRHU 29600 Research Proposal Colloquium in the Spring Quarter of Year 3. Upon approval of their research proposal, students receive full financial support to conduct their research over the summer between their junior and senior years. IRHU 29800 BA Thesis Writing Colloquium in the Autumn Quarter of Year 4 provides a structured and collaborative setting, in which students can complete their project in a timely and closely mentored manner.

This schedule is designed to avoid the usual Spring Quarter crunch of BA thesis writing and to make it easier for students to use their research thesis as a writing sample for fellowship or graduate school applications. The intentional design of the BA thesis (or, research capstone) experience ensures that students are fully equipped and able to put into practice the principles of academic research design. This elevates the value of the research thesis as a training experience, as well as a measurable academic output. Additionally, the enhanced structure of the thesis experience provides students with the opportunity to translate a portion of their project into a refined research and writing sample for the purposes of graduate school and/or any postgraduate experience that expects advanced research training (e.g., national fellowships like Fulbright, etc.). IRHUM also aims to train students in the dissemination of their research through written and oral communication to both expert and non-expert audiences. The final two quarters of Year 4 are reserved for attending undergraduate research conferences and symposia, writing up their research for publication, or preparing other forms of dissemination.

Sample Programs

While the potential for developing individual BA programs in Inquiry and Research in the Humanities is as great as the combined ingenuity, imagination, and interest of each student in consultation with the student's advisors, we have identified a few sample program plans below:

Studying Chicago's Cityscape

ARTH 24190Imagining Chicago's Common Buildings100
ARTH 24191City Imagined, City Observed100
ENST 22300South Side Ecologies100
GEOG 23500Urban Geography100
PBPL 28501Process and Policy in State and City Government100
TAPS 24500Chicago Theater: Budgets and Buildings100
ENGL 13000Academic and Professional Writing (The Little Red Schoolhouse)100
IRHU 20100Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design100
Two Humanistic Research Seminars200
Applied Mentored Research Experience000
IRHU 29600Research Proposal Colloquium100
IRHU 29800BA Thesis Writing Colloquium100
Total Units1200

Understanding Climate Change through Literature and Art

ENGL 12520Climate Change in Literature, Art, and Film100
ENST 28728Climate Change and Society: Human Impacts, Adaptation, and Policy Solutions100
GEOS 24220Climate Foundations100
GEOS 24705Energy: Science, Technology, and Human Usage100
PBPL 24756Exploring the Resilient City100
PHSC 13400Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast100
ENGL 13000Academic and Professional Writing (The Little Red Schoolhouse)100
IRHU 20100Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design100
Two Humanistic Research Seminars200
Applied Mentored Research Experience000
IRHU 29600Research Proposal Colloquium100
IRHU 29800BA Thesis Writing Colloquium100
Total Units1200

The History of Print

ARTH 18700The Arts of Arabic and Persian Manuscripts100
CLCV 21500Medieval Book: History, Typology, Function100
ENGL 45433Book History: Methods, Practices, and Issues100
GRMN 22312Reforming Religious Media: Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation100
HIST 12203Italian Renaissance: Petrarch, Machiavelli, and the Wars of Popes and Kings100
HIST 25425Censorship, Info Control, & Revolutions in Info Technology from the Printing Press to the Internet100
ENGL 13000Academic and Professional Writing (The Little Red Schoolhouse)100
IRHU 20100Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design100
Two Humanistic Research Seminars200
Applied Mentored Research Experience000
IRHU 29600Research Proposal Colloquium100
IRHU 29800BA Thesis Writing Colloquium100
Total Units1200

Application

Interested students should apply for admission into the IRHUM program as soon as possible upon completion of general education requirements (typically by the end of the second year and, except in extraordinary circumstances, no later than the end of Autumn Quarter of the third year). Transfer students in particular are urged to apply at the earliest point that they can. An application is initiated by consulting with the IRHUM Faculty Chair and/or Co-Chair, to discuss the feasibility of designing and implementing the planned study and research program. After consultation, students who wish to pursue an application to the IRHUM program must submit a recent course transcript (with a minimum B average in preceding course work) and a two-part written proposal according to the following guidelines. Applications must be written in error-free, succinct, and well-crafted language in order to receive full consideration.

Motivation Statement

The first part of the proposal consists of a 750-word motivation statement, explaining the student’s intellectual motivation and academic preparation for embarking on an individualized program of humanistic inquiry, and describing in broad outlines the research interest(s), as well as the program of study to pursue those interests. While not required, a brief statement indicating the student's current plans for a BA project and potential mentor may be included. This will further clarify the student's intentions for the IRHUM major and its final research experience for the review committee.

Course Prospectus

The second part of the proposal consists of a list of courses that comprise the complete program of study described in the motivation statement. This list may include courses the student has already taken as well as courses the student intends to take. While a list of proposed courses is a required part of the application, it is understood that these will undergo modification contingent on the availability of courses from year to year. Any changes to the course prospectus must be discussed with and approved by the IRHUM Co-Chair and then forwarded to the student’s College adviser.

After the application materials have been reviewed by the IRHUM Faculty Chair and Co-Chair, a twenty-minute interview will be scheduled with the IRHUM Faculty Chair and Co-Chair. The IRHUM Faculty Chair will inform the student via email of the result of the application.

Grading

All courses in the major must be taken for a quality grade, including ENGL 13000.

Honors

To be eligible for honors, a student must maintain an overall GPA of 3.25 or higher and a GPA in the major of 3.5 or higher. Honors are reserved for the student whose BA project shows exceptional intellectual merit in the judgment of the faculty mentor, the IRHUM Faculty Chair, and the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division.

Advising

Close contact with the faculty and staff relevant to the student's career in IRHUM—including the student's College adviser, the IRHUM Faculty Chair, and the student’s faculty mentor—is essential in a program that involves so much individual initiative and experimentation. Students are encouraged to seek their advice whenever they have an intellectual or practical concern about progress in the major.

Faculty

Since IRHUM is an interdisciplinary major whose field of study encompasses all the offerings in the various departments and programs of the University (particularly in the Humanities Division), all faculty members of these varied departments and programs are related to IRHUM. IRHUM students may approach any University of Chicago faculty member who works in the student's field of interest with a request to serve as faculty adviser for the BA paper. Similarly, IRHUM students may take courses with any faculty member from any department of the University.

Courses for IRHUM Majors

IRHUM majors can choose course offerings from across the College that fit into their program of study, provided they are approved by the IRHUM Faculty Chair and the student's faculty mentor. Methodology courses from other programs and departments may—upon petition—count toward the requirements of the IRHUM major.

Inquiry and Research in the Humanities Courses

IRHU 20100. Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design. 100 Units.

This seminar will introduce majors to the basic tenets of humanistic inquiry, including the formulation and testing of research questions and lines of inquiry, and expose students to best practices in research design. In partnership with the University Libraries, this course will train students in information literacy, introduce them to best practices in research design (feasibility, assessment of primary and secondary source material, collation of resources), as well as expose them to research ethics and the principles of culturally sensitive research practices. The course will also include training in data use and management and introduce students to research tools and technology available to them through the University Library system, as well as other on- and off-campus resources.

Instructor(s): TBD     Terms Offered: TBD

IRHU 29600. Research Proposal Colloquium. 100 Units.

Building on the research skills majors have learned in Introduction to Humanistic Inquiry and Research Design [IRHU 20100], the two Research Seminars, and the mandatory Applied Mentored Research Experience, the Research Proposal Colloquium helps majors identify a relevant research topic/questions, design a feasible research project, establish a research timeline and formulate a clear and compelling proposal. The collaborative setting of the Research Proposal Colloquium complements the individual mentoring provided by the Faculty Advisor and the IRHUM Co-Chair. Upon approval of their research proposal by their Faculty Advisor, the IRHUM Faculty Chair, and Co-Chair, students are eligible to receive full financial support to conduct a portion of their research over the summer between their junior and senior years, as merited.

Instructor(s): TBD     Terms Offered: TBD
Note(s): All IRHUM majors are required to take the Research Proposal Colloquium in the Spring Quarter of their third year.

IRHU 29800. BA Thesis Writing Colloquium. 100 Units.

Building on the Research Proposal Colloquium and the research undertaken over the summer, the BA Thesis Writing Colloquium provides a structured and collaborative setting, in which IRHUM majors receive instruction on effectively writing about their findings, workshop their efforts with their peers, and, ultimately, complete their mentored research project in a timely and productive manner. Like the Research Proposal Colloquium, the BA Thesis Writing Colloquium complements the individual mentoring provided by the Faculty Advisor and IRHU Co-Chair. Furthermore, IRHUM majors will receive support translating their research experience and output into competitive applications for graduate programs, research grants, and national fellowships.

Instructor(s): TBD     Terms Offered: TBD
Note(s): All IRHUM majors are required to take the Thesis Writing Colloquium in the Autumn Quarter of their fourth year.


Contacts

Undergraduate Primary Contact

Faculty Chair
Benjamin Morgan
Walker 512

Email

Undergraduate Secondary Contact

Executive Director, College Center for Research and Fellowships
Nichole Fazio
Gates-Blake 222B
773.702.7157
Email