Elizabeth Propst’s teachers often used online materials to supplement the limited resources of her high school in Asheville, N.C. This summer, she’s developing material for students in similar situations as a participant in the Summer Residential Research Programs offered by the Harvard College Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
From June to August, Propst ’22 and other undergraduates from diverse disciplines — including the sciences, arts, humanities, and social sciences — live together in the Research Village at Winthrop House while working on faculty-led or independent research projects. Many students view the program as an opportunity to engage with issues they personally care about and to reimagine the role of research in everyday life.
Propst, who plans to concentrate in English, is a fellow with SHARP (the Summer Humanities and Arts Research Program) for Poetry in America, a digital initiative across platforms that offers free courses and television programming on the art and history of poetry created by Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature Elisa New.
“I know firsthand how important it is to have high-quality digital resources for education,” said Propst, who is helping retool an online poetry course, originally taught to college students, into a new pilot program aimed at students in Title I high schools, where a high percentage of students come from low-income families. She researches poems that embody different course themes, including the city, coming of age, and protest, by poets from Walt Whitman to Kendrick Lamar.
“In the office, I act as a sounding board for a lot of the stuff that we’re working through because I was the person who was most recently in a low-income public high school,” she said.
Through his SHARP fellowship, Jonathan Yuan ’22 is engaging with a different community: Harvard Square. The Massachusetts native is working with Suzanne Preston Blier, the Allen Whitehill Clowes Chair of Fine Arts, professor of African and African American Studies, and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of African and African American Studies on Be the Change! Harvard Square and its Setting, a project that develops research-backed recommendations for future development that maintains the neighborhood’s unique community atmosphere.