As a research program, the RSLP will provide undergraduates with an engaging, hands-on introduction to the research methods and questions of an array of disciplines; it will provide graduate students with research and teaching opportunities; it will allow faculty to identify promising students and provide them with early mentoring, as well as supporting faculty research agendas; it will deepen UNM’s important function as New Mexico’s flagship research institution; baseline and ongoing research will help identify and address community needs in collaboration with a variety of community constituencies.
As a service program, the RSLP will help UNM fulfill its civic responsibility as a state-funded institution; it will demonstrate to students the purpose of knowledge creation and provide them with the opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing of their community—an opportunity many students may have never had before; it will demonstrate to the citizens of New Mexico UNM’s desire to be an active partner in New Mexico’s development; it will provide UNM students with the awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to address the complex social and economic issues of New Mexico and create an alumni base that will continue to partner with non-profit agencies to address the critical needs of New Mexico.
As a learning program, the RSLP will be strongly grounded in significant content of the disciplines; it will employ an experiential pedagogy that will ensure deeper, more durable learning; it will encourage socially-relevant learning, which is particularly important in trying to attract and retain our first-generation students; being situated in the complexities of real-life situations, it will emphasize the efficacy of an interdisciplinary approach organized around themes such as health, education, the environment, and economics.
Finally, as a program, the RSLP will develop long-term, collaborative relationships with community constituencies; it will extend beyond the one-semester, independently conceived and implemented community-based courses that currently exist at UNM; it will seek to complement, strengthen, coordinate, and enrich existing UNM initiatives; as a program, it will facilitate cooperation with large organizations such as the City of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Public Schools; and operating programmatically, it will be able to attract outside funding and use that funding more effectively.
The Program and the UNM Curriculum
Cohorts of students working on individual RSLP projects will be enrolled in existing courses as much as possible, drawing particularly on Core Curriculum courses and courses which are required for specific departmental majors.
Infusion and Sustainability
The curricular model outlined above will infuse the RSLP throughout departments across the University. To address long-term questions and establish enduring relationships with the community, the program will look beyond single semesters and plan for sequences of courses that enable students to engage in all aspects of complex academic work: researching the problem, developing a plan of action, implementing the plan, evaluating the plan, and disseminating the findings.