First Year, Round Two

Can't wait to get back to tango in the streets. (Buenos Aires, 2011)
Tango in the streets. (Buenos Aires, 2011)

The spring semester is upon us and from the looks of Washington Square and Bobst, it looks like students are back in town and ready to get back to work. Here at CLACS, this means that first-year students are preparing to submit their grant proposals in order to receive research funding for either a CLACS Tinker grant, or a FLAS fellowship. The proposals are due on February 8th, so we have about one week to make final edits and revisions, and get opinions from our peers and professors, before we submit them to the grant committee. These are the proposals that we have been working on since the very first day of class last semester, when we were encouraged to begin thinking about a topic that we would be interested in researching for our Master’s Project. I am planning my research to be in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Throughout the fall semester, we worked bit by bit on our proposals in the first half of the Introduction to Latin American and Caribbean Studies class, the second half of which we’re all taking this semester. In addition to weekly readings, presentations, discussions, and discussion posts on the assigned readings for the class, we had incremental assignments designed to help us in creating our grant proposals. We started out by first submitting two ideas for a research topic, then using one of these ideas to find primary sources in order to construct an annotated bibliography. Finally, we put together secondary sources and defined what kind of methodology we would be using for our research. Throughout the semester, we were constantly reminded not to worry if our research questions or thought processes changed along the way, because this was only natural as we read articles and books that redefined what we thought about certain issues.

I think the CLACS MA at NYU is unique from other programs that I considered because it focuses on grant writing from the very beginning of the program. Here, they understand that many of us have not done grant writing before and they take us through the entire process. It is still very much independent and self-motivated work, but professors and second-year students have all been very helpful in aiding us in defining our projects and how to best approach our research questions. In addition, upon graduation, for those interested in applying for other grants like the Fulbright or working in the non-profit sector, effective grant writing experience will be an invaluable and useful skill to have.

Elizabeth Con is an MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU

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