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As a first-generation college student, Carmen Huerta-Bapat knew that she wanted to be involved in research, but she didn’t know how to connect with professors and begin a research career as an undergraduate.

Now a teaching assistant professor in the curriculum in global studies, Huerta-Bapat is helping Carolina students get involved in research on campus. That goal is at the core of the new course, “Contemporary World Problems.”

Co-taught by teaching associate professor of global studies Erica Johnson, the course introduces ways to conduct research on politics, economies, cultures and societies around the world by connecting students with current professors and researchers examining these topics at Carolina.

The course is part of Carolina Away, which includes one-credit, remote courses that encourage small-group experiences with classmates, faculty and staff. The curriculum is open to all students but is specifically designed for Carolina Away, which pairs virtual courses and social opportunities for first-year and transfer students who opted to attend Carolina remotely.

“The goal of the class is to be able to expose students to all of the global opportunities and the global centers that are present at the University that students might not necessarily be familiar with,” Huerta-Bapat said.

By inviting faculty members and researchers to speak to the class and share their own research journeys, Huerta-Bapat and Johnson designed the course to help students develop personal research roadmaps — complete with questions, values and the connections to pursue them.

Creating that roadmap early in students’ careers, Johnson said, can help students make the most of their time at Carolina and open more opportunities.

Published in the Spring 2021 issue | The Scoop

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