Student presenting at thesis conference

Undergraduate Research

Let your curiosity lead the way.

Research addressing global and international issues is a fundamental part of the Global Studies Program. Global Studies Program faculty and students are actively engaged in research projects that explore historical and contemporary issues around the world and draw on various disciplinary approaches. The research projects allow for, and help develop, a variety of skills that distinguish Global Studies from disciplinary programs: as a Global Studies scholar, you speak at least one foreign language, you are a conscious participant of intercultural encounters, and you are aware of historical and cultural linkages across political and geographical boundaries. In addition, you are prepared to use various methodological and theoretical approaches that suit your questions and take into account the cultural, political, and historical specificity of your research sites.

You are encouraged to publish your original research in a Senior Honors Thesis and/or are strongly encouraged to submit to and present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Qualified graduates are recognized by the Global Studies Program as Research Scholars each year.

Muslim women smile and pose for camera

Research Spotlight: Jaszmine Parks

IAS and French major Jaszmine Parks (LA'17) journeyed to Senegal to interview local women about their Islamic faith after finding their voices.

Research Spotlight: Nicholas Okafor

Research Spotlight: Nicholas Okafor

IAS major Samantha Pitz publishes independent study project during a semester in Geneva

IAS major Samantha Pitz publishes independent study project during a semester in Geneva

student reading in library

Take Your Knowledge Further

Opportunities for Independent Research

Many Global Studies courses include research components and final projects. In addition, Global Studies encourages you to gain credit through approved independent study projects, supervised research under the direction of Global Studies faculty, or participation in the Global Studies Research Methods Proseminar and Assistantship (L97 4007). Additional opportunities may periodically exist to join faculty projects. If interested, you may also form research cohorts under faculty direction.

Independent Study Projects

Research Assistantships

Global Studies selects a limited number of Research Assistants (RAs) each fall and spring semester. RAs will work on an ongoing faculty research projects for five hours per week. Research Assistants will meet for a weekly proseminar, or orientation to the practice of research professions. Ideally, students should apply to take this course in their sophomore or junior year.  There are no prerequisites to take this class. Students who successfully complete the Research Methods Proseminar will be awarded the Research Scholar Distinction within Global Studies.

How are students selected for the ‘Research Team’? This is a competitive process. Students are matched with faculty based on the needs of faculty for a particular research project. Some faculty, more often those in the Humanities, require certain language skills. Other faculty may not have specific needs but do expect that students are diligent, meticulous, and curious. Students will work with faculty from Global Studies and other departments in Arts & Sciences on projects focused on public health, human rights, and political behavior, among others. All of the projects are international or global in focus and some may make use of students’ foreign language skills. 

To apply for the Research Team, please submit an application to Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds and register for Research Methods Proseminar and Assistantship (L97 4007).

While we encourage you to pursue individual interests outside the classroom format by enrolling in L97 GS 400 (Independent Study) OR L97 GS 4007 (Research Methods Proseminar) under the direction of one or more faculty members, please note that electing either of these two options may not necessarily fulfill your 400 level requirement for your specific Global Studies concentration and direct approval must be sought from your major advisor. If that approval is given, a limit of 3 units of independent study may be counted toward the 36 units needed to complete the Global Studies major.

If you have additional questions, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds.

Email Dr. Reynolds

Honors Thesis

Writing an honors thesis is exciting and very rewarding, but it can also be challenging, exhausting, and far more time consuming that you imagine. Ideally, you need to start thinking about potential topics and meeting with potential advisors by the end of your sophomore year. The deadline to declare your intent to write an honors thesis (by completing this intent form and submitting it to the Global Studies main office) is the second Friday in April of your junior year. You must have your thesis advisor secured at this time. [For those students graduating in December, the deadline for the intent form is the second Friday in November of their junior year.]

In writing a thesis, you will work closely with a faculty advisor to articulate a narrow research question, identify the type of data and secondary sources you will examine to answer this question, and formulate an original argument based on your findings. Your faculty advisor will do their best to guide you, but ultimately, the project is up to you. In the Fall, all Global Studies honors students must enroll in the Global Studies honors seminar course (GS 485). In this seminar, you will present your thesis proposal, your results at various stages of progress, and a final presentation. To write a first-rate research paper, all scholars need the opportunity to present their ideas and receive feedback. In addition, you will have the opportunity to interact and learn from your fellow honors students. In the Spring, all honors students must enroll in GS 486. You will work closely with your thesis advisor (they will determine and submit the final grade for your thesis). Once your research and writing is complete, you will present your thesis to the Global Studies Honors Committee. We view this more as an assessment than a defense, and as an opportunity for professional development in preparation for the public presentation at our annual spring semester conference.

Through the process of writing a thesis, you make the transition from being a consumer of other scholars’ analyses to being a contributor to knowledge. Regardless of your future plans, conducting an independent research project in the form of a thesis is a meaningful intellectual process. Moreover, the thesis can be helpful professionally. If you plan to attend academic graduate school or any professional graduate school requiring independent research, analysis, and writing, you should strongly consider writing a thesis.

Global Studies majors who write an honors thesis are eligible for Latin Honors (level is determined by the College of Arts & Sciences) and are strongly encouraged to submit to and present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Note: there are special requirements for students who conduct independent research involving human participants - for more information on the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process, contact your thesis advisor. The WUSTL Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) website has information for undergraduates conducting research, including information for students who conduct research abroad, and a special section for SIT program participants.

For more details about the thesis writing process, please consult the Director of the Honors Program.

student presents research

"The experience of writing my thesis on a United Nations climate change policy was both challenging and incredibly rewarding, as it pushed me as a writer and a critical thinker. I continue to use my research, writing, and critical thinking skills daily at my job as an analyst at a consulting firm in D.C. specializing in government-driven markets such as the aerospace, defense, energy and healthcare industries."

―Rachel MeyerIAS major, Class of 2011