CWU banner, your future is Central.  
Pictures from around campus

National Science Foundation Research Experience: About Us

Application Material
Society & Environment in China
A National Science Foundation Research
Experience for Undergraduates Program
Central Washington University
Undergraduate Research Program
June 17-August 12, 2003
Sponsored by:
The National Science Foundation
Central Washington University
Program in Asia/Pacific Studies,
Undergraduate Research Program,
and the Office of International Studies and Programs


This is a program of field research in the Social Sciences. It is open to undergraduates in their junior and senior years; graduate students are ineligible. The eight-week program is comprised of: ten days of research preparation at Central Washington University, four weeks of research in Beijing and Xian, and two weeks of analysis, writing, and presentation at Central Washington University. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Ellensburg Washington, for personal miscellaneous expenses, and application/processing fees. Costs of travel to and within China and residential costs at Central Washington University are covered by the sponsoring institutions.

Subject of Inquiry:

China has been undergoing intense transition and transformation since the late-l970s. Economic and population growth, industrialization, and urbanization all have had profound environmental impacts. This program will allow 15 high-quality undergraduates and a team of faculty mentors to undertake collaborative research on how economic development and societal change is impacting China's already precarious environmental position in two metropolitan centers, Beijing and Xian. The program will be conducted in conjunction with Shaanxi Normal University, Peking University, and the East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The program's primary objective is to mentor students through the complete process of designing a research agenda and performing primary research in the social sciences at an international field site. Thus, the program will be characterized by a unique combination of close mentoring, multidisciplinary research, and international field experience with student teamwork. Moreover, as primary research in the social sciences becomes progressively multidisciplinary and transnational, researchers need to become cognizant of the demands of working across different disciplines and cultures. Therefore, scholars will also have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of American and Chinese researchers.


Costs of CWU-on-campus program components (including room and board, Seattle trips), transportation between Ellensburg and SeaTac airport, program travel to and from China and within China, and most room and board costs while in China are covered. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from Ellensburg, Washington. Miscellaneous expenses are the student's responsibility.


The program will have four phases:

Phase I: Selection of NSF Student Scholars

Participation is encouraged from academically motivated students in a diversity of fields, especially within the social sciences, environmental studies, and Asia/Pacific area studies. The group approach will be multi-disciplinary, essential for dealing with environmental change and mitigation. Students entering their junior and senior years are eligible. Graduate students are ineligible. Application review will begin on March 7, 2003.

Phase II: Pre-Trip Experience: Research Preparation and Topic Selection

From June 17 to June 26, NSF Student Scholars will enroll in a non-credit "China and the Environment" course at Central Washington University. Working with both CWU faculty/mentors and visiting East-West Center scholars, students will prepare for their Chinese field experience by learning about recent changes in China and the resulting environmental challenges. By the end of the period, each student research team will complete a preliminary literature review and develop a research proposal. Additional background lectures on Chinese politics and society, and ethics in science will be incorporated.

Phase III: Field Research in Beijing and Xian, China

The period from June 27 to July 28 will be divided between Beijing, the country's current capital and Xian, China's ancient capital. In both cities the program will be based at CWU-affiliated institutions (Shaanxi Normal University and Peking University). Campus lectures, on-site visits, interviews and other primary research in both cities will be facilitated by local interpreters. Students will also work closely with Chinese researchers and graduate students.

Phase IV: Back at CWU: Research Analysis and Writing Component

From July 28 to August 12, NSF Student Scholars will be resident in CWU campus housing. During this period scholars will meet regularly with mentors and will prepare final research reports. There will also be ample opportunity to travel to Seattle to both develop possible cross-cultural comparisons of green policies and programs, and to use the University of Washington's comprehensive East Asia Library.

Phases II and IV of the program will take place at the Ellensburg campus of Central Washington University. Located 105 miles east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, the community prides itself on quality living, and students experience a friendly and safe small-town atmosphere. This atmosphere is augmented by diverse cultural and social fare offered by the University, the city and our proximity to the Cascade Mountains, Seattle, Puget Sound, Yakima, the Yakima River Valley, Spokane, and the Columbia River recreational areas. The region offers a wide variety of exciting recreational opportunities.

The campus, an appealing mixture of traditional and modern architecture, consists of 83 mostly brick buildings, stretching across 380 acres of shaded lawns that are framed by evergreens, landscaped malls, and walks. A nationally renowned Japanese garden in the center of the grounds offers a serene refuge from campus bustle. The University is four blocks north of historic downtown Ellensburg, and shops and restaurants are within walking distance.


This program is open to university juniors and beginning seniors with cumulative GPA's of 3.0 or higher and who are US citizens or permanent residents. Majors in he Social Sciences, Environmental Studies, and Asia/Pacific Area Studies are sought. Selection will be competitive and some preference will be given to students who speak and read Mandarin (the ability to speak and read Mandarin is not required).

Application & Deadline:

Get Application Material.

Each applicant will assemble and submit by mail a complete application packet that includes the following:

  1. Completed application form. Download the application form.
  2. 750-word essay that describes your interest in the program, what you would contribute to the group effort, and how this experience would benefit you in your planned career;
  3. Two academic letters of reference (a third maybe added to document abilities in Mandarin);
  4. An official copy of your college transcript.

Complete application packets should be mailed to:

Katherine McCarthy, Study Abroad Advisor
Office of International Studies and Programs
Central Washington University
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926

Review and selection of applicants will begin on March 8th, giving first consideration to all complete application packets postmarked March 7th and earlier.

For more information, please contact: Katherine McCarthy

Contact Information

National Science Foundation Research Experience
400 E. University Way
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Phone: (509) 963-3617
Central Washington University 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg WA 98926 This Site Optimized For Newer Browsers.
Go back to Central's main page