Pillars of Research

Contribute to cutting-edge scholarship and gain valuable research skills in a supportive community of peers and professors with the Pillars of Research Learning Community (PRLC).

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Contribute to Research of Consequence

“One thing that sets the Pillars of Research Learning Community apart from other communities is that students learn and collaborate about various research topics throughout the year. I joined this community in the fall semester and decided to continue throughout the spring because this community provided me with useful research resources. I also loved the opportunities to talk to government organizations, such as Freedom House!"

— Ruth Wolde-Semayat
BA, Government and International Politics
Ruth Wolde-Semayat
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Student Presenter: Sophia Lutz

Become a World-Class Researcher

The Pillars of Research Learning Community (PRLC) offers the opportunity,

  • to gain hands-on research and analytic skills while contributing to topics of interest.  
  • to earn 1 credit of GOVT 399.

As a part of this community, students will also have the opportunity,

  • to create a research proposal under the mentorship of a Schar School faculty member.
  • to learn fundamental research skills.
  • the option to participate in the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) and to receive individualized support for their URAP project.

This community is open to all interested students.

Diane Cruz

"As a senior, I wanted to really polish my research and writing skills before starting my career. The Pillars of Research Community was very welcoming and felt like a support group, rather than a required class. I loved that my peers and I were able to bounce ideas off each other, provide constructive criticism on what areas of our research we can improve on, and have a space to come together and help each other grow."  

— Diane Cruz
BA, Government and International Politics

A Community of Scholars

Students will have a wide-range of professional development opportunities, including:

  • Discussions around research topics with speakers, scholars, and experts;
  • Facilitated coffee-house conversations around topics related to research and scholarship, including methodology, research design, data management and analysis, and working with institutional review boards;
  • Workshops on poster design and presentations for both professional and academic audiences;
  • Presentation practice sessions with peer feedback and facilitated workshopping of ideas;
  • A trip each semester to a Washington, D.C.-area research organization such as the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Council on Foreign Relations, or Brookings Institution.
Library of Congress (Field Trip)
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Photo of heba-el-shazli

Meet the Pillars of Research Learning Community Director




Professor Heba F. El-Shazli

For any questions or to learn more, contact: helshazl@gmu.edu