Two projects approved for Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Scholars program

Assistant history professor Daniel Domingues: “[Students] will learn important skills, not just for their studies at the university but also for their careers.”
MU linguistics professor Michael Marlo works with Mulyambuzi Nasiri on his language, Lugwere, in Busia, Kenya, in May. Photo by Moses Egesa, research assistant for Michael Marlo

For the past 15 years, linguistics professor Michael R. Marlo has been collecting data on a set of undocumented languages spoken in Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda called “Luyia.”

Now, Marlo and fellow linguistics professor Rebecca Grollemund are using their research to lead an undergraduate research project entitled “Documenting Luyia Together” through the Honors College’s Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Scholars Program.

Their project is one of two approved as part of this year’s ASH program.

Marlo and Grollemund will work with students to develop the first official dictionaries of three of these languages. Students will work directly with data, including what Marlo collected in Kenya, to help assemble these dictionaries of language in danger of extinction.

“What the students can do in the project, that I think is really exciting, is that they can get their hands on the data without having to do some of the things that are really hard and would take a lot of experience,” Marlo said.

History professors Daniel Domingues and Linda Reeder are leading the other ASH project, titled “Visualizing Abolition: A Digital History of the Suppression of the African Slave Trade, 1808-1900.”

“The objective is to map the suppression of the African slave trade by tracing the correspondence between the British foreign office and its commissioners, ministers, and representatives abroad, naval officers and so on,” Domingues said.

Students will work directly with primary source documents from the time, such as letters and newspapers, and enter this information into a database.

“They will learn important skills, not just for their studies at the university but also for their careers,” Domingues said.

Honors College Director Jerome Bowers said the program allows undergraduate students to gain practical experience in their fields of study.

“Students will be trained by working with faculty and other students in the methods and skills of academic research,” Bowers said. “They will also work with the faculty on writing and the presentation of research while being guided by a professional program coordinator in associated matters, such as library skills, presentation skills and development of professional materials.”

In exchange for at least eight hours of work per week, students will receive a $2,000 scholarship, according to the Honors College website. The program is designed to be an extracurricular activity and does not carry academic credit.

Professors submitted project proposals, which were then reviewed by a team of faculty and staff members. The team reviewed the sustainability of the projects in the long term, as well as the skills and experiences of the faculty in working with students.

Students who wish to participate in this program can apply through the Honors College website until Sept. 5. Though the projects are based in social sciences and humanities, the program is not limited to students studying those subjects.

“I see this as a great way to attract people to our little program, who may have never heard of linguistics before, but who unknowingly have an interest in linguistics,” Marlo said. “We want more than just linguistics majors to participate.”

Edited by Kyra Haas |

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