Every semester, more than 200 undergraduate CW R4B [Reading, Composition & Research] students gather for the College Writing Research Festival to present their final projects. Speaking in waves, in several different rooms, students have the chance to test ideas, ask questions, engage with an audience of their peers from other course themes, and develop an academic community bigger and richer than any one classroom.
First begun in Fall 2014 with just two R4B sections, the Research Festival has grown to include every R4B student, and has become a twice-yearly tradition at College Writing. As one student put it: "I'm proud that we have so many interesting people doing such interesting projects. It says a lot about the diversity of ideas at Cal in general."
Among the topics presented in previous semesters:
- "Zombies as Social Commentary"
- "Exposing Environmental Racism"
- "Memes for Lonely Teens"
- "The Toxic Legacy of Uranium Mining on the Navajo Nation"
- "Courtship and Marriage in the Japanese American Internment Camps"
- "You’re Too Pretty to be Deaf: How Lookism Works Its Way in the Deaf Community"
- "Neuromarketing and the Internet: Designing for the Mind"
- "The Middle East & North Africa: Democratization through Social Media & the Internet"
- "Problematic Values for Native American Art: How Museums Display Art"
- "Marginalization and Discrimination: An Observation of Chinese Online Activism"
- "The Impact of Sea Level Rise on Low-Income Communities"
- "Does Ink Matter? Looking at Tattoos in Academic Culture"
- "The Potential Implications of California's Drought on Kern County"
- "Discovery in the Face of Extinction: Ili Pika as Indicators of Climate Change"
- "The Sharing Economy: You're Not as Powerful as What You Own"
- "Stormfront: Online Hate and Its Offline Consequences"
- "Sound of the People: Information Technology and Democratization of the Music Business"
* What is a Research Festival, exactly?
Think Science Fair plus collaborative problem-solving -- plus snacks. Often, academics at conferences informally present their research to small groups of colleagues in what's come to be known as a Poster Session.
* What will I get out of it?
The Festival at this point in the R4B drafting process will help you test ideas and troubleshoot structural problems in your projects while you're writing. Besides showcasing your own hard work, it can also be helpful to ask questions of a note-taking partner -- a peer audience who doesn't know you, someone who is also writing their own research project, and has been thinking about the research process. It's also interesting to walk around and encounter the range of topics others are researching and to receive smart feedback on what's intriguing about your own project from an outside point of view.
* Do I need to make an actual poster?
Whether we use PowerPoint, Google Docs, a blog, or actual posterboard, academics use Poster Sessions to walk peers through our findings. At the Research Festival, speakers will take roughly 12 minutes to present their research question, outline, materials, and issues they'd most like help with. They’ll get feedback and questions for 6 minutes, and there’s a 2 minute transfer time between sessions.
* And you said there would be snacks?
Absolutely. We're celebrating your hard work, after all.
* Where is it, and when?
Monday, May 1 from 1pm-3pm. Meet at the Academic Innovation Studio in 117 Dwinelle at 1pm for the Festival Opening before dividing into your assigned spaces.
* And if I take two short Pre- and Post-Festival Research Surveys, there might be free ice cream sandwiches?
The university takes undergraduate research seriously. Your thoughts here will be essential. By taking part in two short surveys before and after taking part in the CWP Festival, you help advance the larger campus initiative to foster innovation in undergraduate research here at U.C. Berkeley. As an added incentive: we will randomly select students who contribute to *both* Pre- and Post- surveys for gift certificates to Cream! Thanks in advance for your perspective on the research process.
* Excellent. Anything else I need to know?
You'll be assigned a note-taking partner, a 20-minute speaking slot and also a 20-minute note-taking slot in the 2-hour window. The rest of the time, you'll listen, walk around the different rooms, speak with others, eat some food... and celebrate your collective success.