Research conference celebrates socially engaged scholarship

Professor speaking

Toussaint Losier, assistant professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, speaking at last year’s conference. Photo courtesy of Darrick Northington

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On April 4 and 5, Harvard students, faculty, and staff, along with nearly 40 undergraduate students from across the country, will meet for the 2019 Engaged Scholarship & Social Justice Undergraduate Research Conference (ESSJ). The conference is free and open to the public.  All sessions will be held at the Student Organization Center at Hilles.

“The ESSJ Conference is an opportunity for our students and faculty to engage in research, teaching, and learning outside of the classroom,” said Varsha Ghosh, director of Public Service Networks at Harvard College. “For many of our students who are activists on campus, this conference allows them to take an intellectual lens to their public service interests. It is also an occasion to showcase the work of faculty who producing innovative engaged research.”

At ESSJ, students will have the opportunity to present their social justice-oriented research to other students, as well as to Harvard faculty and staff. Alice Mar-Abe of Princeton University, who presented at the 2018 conference, noted that for students who put in so many hours of work into their thesis, an opportunity to disseminate their research was very much appreciated. This undergraduate research conferences is one of the few in the nation that focuses on research conducted by undergraduates.  

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This year’s conference will kick-off at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, with a faculty panel focused on engaged scholarship through different disciplines.  The panel will be moderated by Soha Bayoumi, the Allston Burr Resident Dean for Kirkland House, and feature:  plant biologist Banu Subramaniam of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, historian Kirsten Weld of Harvard University, and performance artist Kareem Khubchandani of Tufts University.  

The following day, undergraduates from across the country will present their research on critical social issues and community engagement. The research topics represent a range of disciplines, from anthropology to molecular biology, addressing issues in criminal justice, health care access, educational equity, and economic development.

For a full conference schedule, please visit