Program Dates: June 13—July 22, 2022

Important Information/Dates

Application Due Date: March 4, 2022

Students will be notified of acceptance by March 18, 2022

This program is open to students who participated in the 2021 Summer Bridge Program in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Summer Bridge Research Institute is designed to introduce participants to research traditions, approaches, and procedures in the humanities and social sciences. Our goal is to help students develop their research skills and to provide the building blocks for further coursework and careers for which research and research skills are essential.

This six-week program provides a remarkable opportunity for sustained exploration of the way humanists and social scientists think about research. Fellows of the Summer Institute will work independently and collectively in close concert with four faculty mentors (Sony Bolton, Latinx and Latin American Studies, Spanish; Nusrat Chowdhury, Anthropology and Sociology; Austin Sarat, Political Science and LJST; Kiara Vigil, American Studies) as well as other faculty and staff.

This summer’s institute is organized around the theme of “Inequality.” We will examine how this theme is taken up in different disciplines and how it spawns interdisciplinary inquiry.

Inequality seems to be an eternal, unavoidable condition, and yet its distinctive features and the ways to redress it have changed throughout history. In one sense, it indicates a mere imbalance, a difference of size, degree, and circumstance. In another, it represents a grave lack, a disparity of wealth, status, opportunity, and liberty. The Greek philosopher Plutarch, for instance, observed that “an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Closer to our own time, Martin Luther King Jr. sought to marshal the forces of state and society into an all-out program against inequality: “The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation.” Inequality is increasingly understood as an “ailment” of society and state, and by extension higher education. As such, studying inequality often reveals how human beings experience injustice, oppression, and prejudice. In recognition of this cultural context, this summer institute is designed to support and train those who remain underrepresented in academe, including: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, first-generation and low-income students. We will undertake a sustained examination of the diverse meanings and forms of “inequality” by considering how different disciplines in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences understand the term. Together with professors from various scholarly backgrounds, summer fellows will consider such questions as: What is the experience of inequality? How do economic and societal structures exacerbate (and possibly mitigate) it? What is the distinction between inequality and inequity? How has inequality been represented in art, literature, and popular culture? Whose responsibility is it to resolve inequality? Can it be resolved?

Along with the academic component of the institute, we anticipate a rich cultural program that will take advantage of the diverse offerings of the five colleges and other regional institutions. We will also work with the Loeb Center to discuss how research skills connect with and enhance career possibilities. Fellows will be provided a stipend for the six weeks as well as room and board. Program expenses will also be covered. 

Learning Goals of the Summer Bridge Research Institute

  • Introduce students to research traditions in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Convey the excitement and challenges of doing research.
  • Empower students to make informed and meaningful choices about research opportunities at Amherst.
  • Equip students to succeed in doing research at the college and beyond.
  • Encourage creativity, flexibility and persistence in confronting and overcoming challenges encountered in doing research.
  • Understand discipline specific approaches to a common research problem as well as the advantages and disadvantages of interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Use cohort learning to strengthen student relationships with one another.
  • Develop skills in collaboration and joint problem solving.
  • Strengthen relationships among participants, and with faculty, staff, peer mentors and alumni.
  • Connect the development of research skills with career opportunities and opportunities to make significant social and cultural contributions.
  • Help underrepresented groups take advantage of the full range of research opportunities at Amherst and beyond.