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Community and Environmental Transitions in Metropolitan Trenton:

Institutionalizing Research in a Struggling Post-Industrial City: 

New Project Teams For 2008
Preliminary Project Summaries for 2008

trentonAs part of its strong commitment to undergraduate research and community engagement, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in 2008 will continue its eight-week interdisciplinary summer research program involving undergraduates to conduct research on how Trenton has responded to social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges. The project is funded by National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and the Alice and Leslie E. Lancy Foundation. This enhances TCNJ’s existing Mentored Undergraduate Summer Experience (MUSE) with an interdisciplinary project that builds bridges across diverse scholarly areas of campus, and emphasizes community engaged research to foster ties with the city of Trenton.  This program continues the interdisciplinary project begun last year with seven additional teams, whose findings appear at left.  

... an interdisciplinary project that builds bridges across diverse scholarly areas of campus, and emphasizes community engaged research to foster ties with the city of Trenton.

Once an industrial powerhouse, Trenton has faced an economic decline and demographic transition since the mid-1950s and the city is struggling to fight poverty and crime, to redevelop industrial sites, to meet the needs of a rising immigrant population, and to improve the local environment. Because social transitions are the driving force behind changes in the built and natural landscape, an interdisciplinary approach that fostered the exchange of ideas helped participants to recognize how demographic and economic transitions are driving the changes in Trenton’s environment, and in turn how these changes motivate people to mobilize the community and address social problems.

Beginning in June 2008, seven teams of students led by faculty mentors will examine a variety of projects in metropolitan Trenton, ranging from local artists to local businesses, from land use decisions to the provision of health care.  Integrated weekly meetings with all participants will build a scholarly community and stimulate the exchange of ideas around overarching questions about local transitions identified by the group at the beginning of the program. Summer activities will conclude with a mini-conference where students present findings. These presentations will be refined and presented to the community as well as at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in 2009. The faculty team and TCNJ’s administration are committed to sustaining the project with internal and external funding.

For additional information, see the TCNJ Update feature about the original award.

A Project in Undergraduate Summer Research with the support of:

The Board of Governors of the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and the Trustees of the Alice and Leslie E. Lancy Foundation have provided grants to colleges and universities throughout the country since 1999 to support the development of interdisciplinary undergraduate research programs. The program focus is on helping to build communities of student and faculty scholars spanning the academic disciplines but working on a unifying theme. An institution that receives an NCUR/Lancy award has a cadre of faculty with the time, energy, and interest to supervise six to ten undergraduates for a period of eight to ten weeks during the summer, and an administrative support structure that nurtures this activity. Scholars supported by an NCUR/Lancy award present their work at the annual NCUR conference. The program aspires to catalyze efforts of faculty, administrators and development officers to build a sustainable program. Both NCUR and the Lancy Foundation are committed to the notion that a broad interdisciplinary perspective is vital for an educated member of contemporary society. Thus, NCUR/Lancy summer support is available to students majoring in any discipline, and proposals must stipulate how interdisciplinary representation in the sciences, humanities, arts, and social sciences will be achieved.


Community and Environmental Transitions in Metropolitan Trenton

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

The College of New Jersey

P.O. Box 7718

Ewing, NJ 08628

p) 609.771.2670

F) 609.637.5186



Project Directors

Diane C. Bates

P) 609.771.3176



Elizabeth Borland

P) 609.771.2869