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Research Coordinator Corner


Examining Humanity: Research and Innovation in the College of Liberal Arts

by Jessica Schneider

In April 2018, Texas State University was recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education for its significant research and development (R&D) spending in the humanities. Nationally, Texas State ranked number 48, with over $1.4 million in humanities R&D expenditures in FY16 alone. In Texas, the university ranked in the top five. However, when these expenditures are viewed as a percentage of total R&D, Texas State ranked first in the state, with the highest percentage of overall R&D spending dedicated to the humanities. This demonstrates the contribution of humanities faculty to helping Texas State meet its National Research University Funding (NRUF) goals, and it acknowledges the significance of humanities and social science research within the College of Liberal Arts.

The College of Liberal Arts consists of nine departments, three college-level centers, and 12 research centers across four departments. Faculty research ranges from understanding the impact of emerging religious movements to examining issues of race and culture through graphic novels to exploring the temperature regulating habits of primates in savanna environments. This spectrum of research activity is illustrated in our faculty’s external funding portfolio. In the last five years, three faculty members have been named National Endowment for the Humanities fellows. These fellowships are highly prestigious, and they contribute to the university’s efforts to achieve NRUF status. In that same five-year period, Liberal Arts faculty have been awarded eight grants from the National Science Foundation and three from the National Institutes of Health. Across all this work is a common theme: humans and the human experience. By examining history, culture, health, politics, place, and behavior, Liberal Arts faculty are helping to solve real problems — both old and new — that center on the human experience, our well-being, and our interactions with each other and our environment. 

In order to increase awareness of the significance of Liberal Arts research, Associate Dean for Research Dr. Aimee Roundtree has increased the college’s promotional efforts and developed new forums for communicating faculty research to the public. The college has expanded its social media presence to share faculty research and publications (follow us on Twitter and Facebook!). Additionally, the college has launched a series of promotional videos that highlight the innovative work of Liberal Arts faculty, and Human Inquiry, the College of Liberal Arts magazine, which features work of both faculty and students within the college. Check out and follow these newly launched forums to see the ground-breaking work originating in the College of Liberal Arts.   

Dr. Jill Pruetz, Professor of Anthropology, discusses her work on the Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project in Senegal, West Africa. She examines environmental impact on chimp behavior and how this behavior relates to early human development.

Dr. Samuel Saldivar, Assistant Professor of English, studies Latinx and Chicanx representations in pop culture and media. His current project explores race, class, and culture through representations of phenotype in graphic novels.

Dr. Joseph Laycock, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, shares his work on religious movements, how new religious movements are defined, and how we respond to them as a society. 

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