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Undergraduate Research Fellow Grants


Since 2003, the Henry Institute has funded undergraduate research fellow grants, with participants ranging from three to as many as nine Calvin students each year. Beginning with the 2008-09 academic year, the Institute started using a different approach to encouraging student research, seeking proposals from Calvin College faculty for funding a research project that would provide financial support to pay a Calvin student to assist the faculty member with research and project tasks. The new approach is intended to encourage Calvin professors to further their research endeavors as well mentor undergraduates in scholarly research.

2008-2009 Grants

The 2008-09 Henry Institute awards were granted to four Calvin faculty members. Randall Bytwerk of Communication Arts and Sciences, working with student Kevin Wuest will continue work on the German Propaganda Archive he has created, which includes material from Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic, both of which claimed religious scope but held an ultimate goal of eliminating religion from the public sphere. Janel Curry (Geography Department)will be assisted by Paul Hartge as they consider the range of Christian responses to climate change, including examining the responses and arguments of different Christian groups within the public policy realm and in public policy debates. Political Science professor Amy Patterson and student Michelle Fraser will investigate the role of Protestant churches in shaping policies to fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia and Ghana. Stephanie Sandberg of Communication Arts and Sciences will explore the relationship between poverty, race and faith in Grand Rapids, interviewing individuals about their personal experiences and ultimately turning those interviews into a theatre piece with assistance from Moriah Ophart.

[Excerpt from Summer 2008 Henry Institute Newsletter]

2009-2010 Grants

Dr. Gail Zandee (Nursing) will work with Calvin nursing student Lindsay Clutter to explore local disparities in health care within three underserved Grand Rapids neighborhoods. The project will examine methods to address the identified problem issues within the community, and evaluate the role of the Christian nurse in addressing health care disparities.
Dr. Amy Patterson (Political Science & International Relations), will continue her examination of the role of African churches in advocating on HIV/AIDS, with the assistance of student Michelle Fraser. They will explore political activities of churches, such as publicizing AIDS statements, encouraging public discussion about government policies, and direct participation by leaders and parishioners in lobbying efforts.
Dr. Bruce Bergland (History) is continuing his research for a book regarding religious and cultural history, focusing on the intersection of the arts, philosophy and Christian faith in turn-of-the-century and interwar Prague, especially focusing on architect Joze Plecnik. He will be mentoring Amy Surbatovich who is proficient in reading original documents and completing research in the native language of Serbo-Croatian.
Dr. Steven McMullen (Economics) will conduct research into the relationship between church attendance and crime in the United States between 1970 and 1990, using national crime data by state, along with General Social Survey church participation information. Student Andrew Warren will be involved in the research processes, empirical methods, and academic writing of the project.
Dr. Jamie Skillen (Geology, Geography & Environmental Studies) and student Rachel Stehouwer will examine the role played by religious values and arguments in the political debate surrounding the Interior Columbia River Ecosystem case study. The information gained will be included in a book Skillen is currently writing entitled Eco-system Management: The Ecology and Politics of Flux.

[Excerpt from Summer 2009 Henry Institute Newsletter]

2010-2011 Grants

Mandy Cano Villalobos of the Art and Art History Department was awarded a grant to work with student Tianna Wierenga (senior majoring in Studio Art). The two compiled a visual arts project entitled Voces, which told the stories of the women of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico where, since 1993, mass femicide has been taking place. The project sought to combine a social justice focus with a visual awareness of the existing social and political distress of the area. Additional information about the project is available on the web. In a report on the activities and accomplishments of her grant, Professor Villalobos noted, “The Undergraduate Research Grant was such a benefit for both Tia and myself. It allowed me to share my knowledge of a topic about which I care deeply. But more profoundly, the grant provided Tia with the opportunity to broaden her understanding of an under-recognized social justice issue and a marginalized culture through her passion for art.”

Gail Zandee (Nursing) utilized the grant to continue her research in community health, having received one of last year’s Undergraduate Research Grants as well. Andrea Lima, a junior student in the Nursing department, partnered with Professor Zandee to research disparities in health care in local Grand Rapids-area neighborhoods that have historically been underserved. As part of their research, they interacted with neighbor-hood members and collaboratively identified action plans to address disparities, conducted focus groups and surveys within the target neighborhood, and designed a report of the study’s findings. According to Zandee, “The Henry grant was an integral part of continuing our nursing department’s work in community health. The learning opportunity for Andrea was very valuable, and our ongoing program certainly benefitted.”

The third recipient, You-Kyong Ahn, also from the Art and Art History Department, worked with Elliott Spronk (senior student in Architectural Engineering) to study the architectural history of the Calvin College campus. The project involved recording the architectural characteristics of the current campus and conducting a survey examining perceptions of those features. The resulting report on their research suggests significant design elements related to maintaining the architectural integrity of Calvin College in the future, as additional buildings are added and altered in the public space of the campus. Summaries of Professor Ahn’s research (background and findings) are available on the Henry Institute website. Ahn noted, “The Henry Institute’s support was a great incentive for both Elliott and for me. It is difficult to find time for research work during the semester; the grant helped me to find a motivated individual to assist in the project. It was a rewarding and enjoyable experience to work with a student.”

[Excerpt from 2011 Henry Institute Newsletter]

2011-2012 Grants

Kevin den Dulk of the Political Science Department received a grant to continue his research work with student Jesse (Zexi) Sun (senior majoring in Political Science). den Dulk's work centers around religious freedom in mainland China.

Amy Patterson (Political Science) worked with Nicole Vander Meulen and Brad Wassink (both of whom are senior Political Science majors). Vander Meulen and Wassink transcribed numerous interviews conducted by Patterson during her 2011 trip to Zambia under a Fulbright Grant. The interviews were conducted as part of her research into the role and effectiveness of HIV support groups in Zambia, a country with an HIV rate of 14%. In these support groups, HIV positive patients can talk about their experiences living with the virus, encourage each other, talk about the challenges they face concerning medications, consider how they interact with family and friends, and also get support to receive anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs).