Academic Catalog


The Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement

The Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement is Denison's hub for programs that promote dialogue and scholarly excellence on campus. Our mission is to (1) mentor and support students, recent alumni, and faculty applying for nationally- and internationally-competitive fellowships and scholarships; (2) coordinate the Summer Scholars programs; (3) provide funding for student research and academic enhancement travel; and (4) sponsor an array of multidisciplinary programs and events, including Research Tables and the Experimental College.

1. Fellowships Advising

The Lisska Center staff assists students and recent alumni applying for nationally- and internationally-competitive fellowships at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Fellowships fund summer programs, study abroad programs, service projects, and postgraduate study and research both in the U.S. and abroad.

Examples of prestigious fellowships include the Rhodes Scholarship, the Marshall Scholarship, Fulbright awards, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in Science and Mathematics, the Morris K. Udall Scholarship in National Environmental Policy, National Science Foundation Fellowships, the Boren Scholarship for International Study, DAAD (German Academic Exchange) grants, and many others. Denison is proud of the many students and alumni who have won such awards over the years.

In collaboration with the Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, the Lisska Center also works with Denison faculty members interested in applying for nationally-competitive fellowships and grants.

While some fellowship applications require an institutional endorsement and have a minimum GPA requirement, many do not. All interested students are encouraged to schedule an individual appointment and/or attend group information sessions. Comprehensive listings of national and international fellowships can be found on the Lisska Center's MyDenison page.

The Lisska Center provides intensive one-on-one support to those applying for any fellowship or grant opportunity.  We help applicants identify appropriate opportunities, prepare their application materials, and write their application essays. We also coach fellowship competition finalists preparing for interviews.

2. Summer Scholar Program

The Lisska Center coordinates Denison’s Summer Scholar Program. Each year, more than 120 students across all disciplines receive funding to support independent research under the close supervision of a faculty member, or full-time collaborative work with faculty members, during the summer. Summer Scholar projects do not confer credit hours and are not graded. Summer Scholars receive a stipend ($4,000 for 10 weeks in 2018) and housing allowance allowance and supplemental research funds (up to $500 per student). Faculty advisors also receive a stipend per student supervised (three students maximum). 

The Lisska Center holds information sessions and works closely with the Student Research Grants Committee (SRGC), which selects the recipients of Young Scholar, Early Experience, and Off-Campus Summer Scholar awards. The Lisska Center also works with the coordinators of the Anderson Summer Science Program, the Woodyard Scholar awards in the Department of Religion, the Ashbrook Summer Scholar awards, and the Battelle Summer Scholar awards. Guidelines can be found on the Lisska Center’s MyDenison page.

The Lisska Center approves and coordinates the logistics of all Summer Scholar stipend payments, housing, and supplemental research grants. These activities include hosting a kick-off luncheon as well as weekly research dinners where Summer Scholars and faculty members share informal updates on their projects. The Lisska Center also organizes the early fall Summer Scholar poster sessions and performances where students present their final work.

Denison’s Summer Scholar Program permits students to pursue independent research under the close supervision of a faculty member, or full-time collaborative work with faculty members, during the summer. It gives students in all disciplines a unique undergraduate venue in which to experiment with ideas and artistic expression, pursue an intellectual passion, and focus intently on the resolution of a question over a sustained period of time. Summer Scholar projects do not confer credit hours and are not graded. 

Denison’s endowed funds provide students with a stipend ($4,000 for 10 weeks in 2018) and a campus housing allowance. Faculty advisors also receive a stipend of $2,500 for one student, $1,500 for a second student, and $500 for a third student in 2018).

Additional funds of up to $500 per student are available for the purchase of materials required for research if they are not otherwise available, as well as travel. All students must produce a scholarly project (e.g., final poster, paper, performance, or equivalent) and present their summer’s work in a public forum.

Qualified rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in all disciplines are eligible to apply for Summer Scholar awards. A qualified student is one who:

  • will be returning to Denison in the fall and has registered for classes;
  • will be on an approved off-campus study program in the fall;
  • is on an approved academic leave;
  • is on an approved leave of absence and does not have to reapply to return.

Projects do not necessarily need to be in the discipline of the student’s major. Interdisciplinary projects may be proposed as well. Any student who does not fall into one of the above categories is not eligible.

Applications for Summer Scholar awards are typically due at the end of January. Students are expected to identify their proposal, and secure agreement from their faculty mentor well in advance and to work with their mentor in developing their application materials. See below for details.

Decisions on faculty eligibility to supervise, or share in the supervision, of student summer research shall be made on a case-by-case basis by the Provost. In most cases, tenure track and non-tenure track faculty who teach at least 75% of a full-time load, and who have a contract to teach at Denison in the fall semester following the summer research, will be eligible to supervise summer research.

Young Scholar awards support students pursuing projects in the social sciences, humanities, fine arts, and interdisciplinary projects. Young Scholars work under the close guidance of a Denison faculty member for projects that typically last 10 weeks between mid-May and the end of July. In 2018 students received a stipend of $4,000 for 10 weeks, plus a room allowance for campus housing. Students may not hold jobs during the term of their research. Awards will not be made for projects requiring a substantial portion of time away from campus, although short research trips may be permitted on a case-by-case basis. (For projects requiring more than 1 to 2 weeks away from campus, see the Off-Campus Summer Scholar guidelines below.) Applications for Young Scholar awards are evaluated by the Student Research Grants Committee (SRGC), an elected committee of four faculty members (one from each division of the college), overseen by the Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement.

Faculty members are expected to work closely with students as they develop their project proposals in the fall and must submit a detailed letter of endorsement supporting each student’s application for a Young Scholar award. Applications, including letters of support, are typically due in late January.  Faculty advisors are expected to be on campus (except for short absences) and should meet at least twice weekly with each student during the project’s 10 weeks. Faculty members may not supervise more than three individual or joint proposals. Complete program guidelines can be found on the Lisska Center MyDenison page.

The Anderson Summer Science Program provides summer research assistantships in the sciences. Denison students conduct research under the guidance of a Denison science faculty member for projects that typically last 10 weeks between mid-May and the end of July. In 2018 students received a stipend of $4,000 for 10 weeks, plus a room allowance for campus housing. The program guidelines and the application and selection processes are routinely revised in consultation with chairs of the science departments. Current information is maintained on the Anderson Summer Science ProgramMyDenison page. For additional information, contact the Anderson Endowment Coordinator.

Off-Campus Summer Scholar awards support a limited number of students and faculty conducting a full-time independent research, scholarly, or creative project in any discipline (including the sciences) that requires some or all of the time to be spent off-campus. Projects typically last 10 weeks between mid-May and the end of July. (Some time may be spent on campus before and/or after the off-campus portion of the project). A Denison faculty member must be the primary mentor, but a non-Denison mentor may help supervise the project on site, as appropriate. Proposals must specify the role and time commitment of the Denison and non-Denison mentors; faculty stipends will be awarded accordingly. The student stipend and guidelines are the same as for on-campus awards, but also cover travel expenses and provide an allowance for off-campus housing. Applications for Off-Campus Summer Scholar awards are evaluated by the SRGC. For complete guidelines, see the Lisska Center MyDenison page.

Early Experience awards provide an opportunity for ambitious rising sophomores to explore interest areas and build relationships with faculty members that supplement their experiences in the classroom. Qualified students pursue independent research, scholarly, or creative projects in any discipline (including the sciences) under the close mentorship of a faculty member for a period of 5 to 6 weeks. The 10-week stipend is prorated based on the number of weeks, and a room allowance is provided for campus housing. Applications for Early Experience awards are evaluated by the SRGC. For complete guidelines, see the Lisska Center MyDenison page.

Woodyard Scholar awards provide students with Summer Scholar awards to carry out individual or collaborative projects in the area of “Religion and Civic Responsibility.” Woodyard Scholars will be supervised by members of the Religion Department for 10 weeks between mid-May and the end of July. (For projects involving other disciplines, other faculty members may also be involved). In 2018, the student stipend was $4,000 plus a room allowance for campus housing. For more information, contact the Department of Religion.

Ashbrook Summer Scholar awards are intended to “foster and promote research and educational cooperation between faculty and students in exploring ways to improve the political and economic betterment of the underprivileged Licking County person.” The Ashbrook Scholarship is open to any student who has engaged in community service (broadly defined as including, but not limited to, DCA involvement, work with America Reads or as a Community Service intern, and service learning coursework). Scholars work under the guidance of a Denison faculty member as they carry out research and engage in service with an organization that provides some kind of assistance to the community. In 2018 students received a stipend of $4,000 plus a room allowance for campus housing. For complete guidelines, see the Lisska Center MyDenison page.

Battelle Memorial Institute awards support Denison students participating in science research projects throughout the world. Some awards for entire summer support may be given, whereas other awards may be for a student’s short stay at a remote location to carry out data collection. For complete guidelines, see the Lisska Center’s MyDenison page. For additional information, contact the Battelle Student Research Coordinator.

Denison University Research Foundation (DURF) awards support students working as research assistants for Denison faculty members during the summer. (Note: research assistants are only considered Summer Scholars if they are doing a piece of independent work, not just assisting with the professor’s project). Denison faculty apply for DURF funds to support a Denison student assistant. Any qualified Denison student is eligible. Faculty may contact the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs for more information.

Student research may also be supported by outside grants received by faculty in various departments. Students receiving outside funding to conduct summer research (e.g., McNair Scholars, DAAD-RISE, etc.) may also be included as members of the Summer Scholar Program.​

3. Academic Enhancement 

The Lisska Center serves as a hub for funding for student research and academic enhancement travel. Specifically:

  • The Course Enhancement Fund provides small amounts of funding to faculty members wishing to take a class on a field trip or other class activity.
  • The Student Academic Travel Fund provides up to $500 per student for travel to academic conferences to students presenting papers or posters. Requests should be made to the Assistant to the Director of the Lisska Center.
  • The Undergraduate Research Fund provides up to $500 per student for students conducting senior research or other research during the academic year. The SRGC reviews and approves all awards.
  • The Academic Enhancement Travel Fund supports students traveling individually or in small groups with a Denison faculty or staff member to conduct research, attend a conference or workshop (where they are not presenting a paper), or similar activity not covered by other sources of funding (up to $1,000 per student over their four years in college).

The Lisska Center also administers a number of other Denison scholarships and awards, including the A. Blair Knapp, K.I. Brown, and Alumnae Endowed Scholarships, the Kenneth Joseph Hines Memorial Award, the Malchow-Weigert Award for Excellence in German, the Megan Lisska and Elin Lisska Christiansen Award in the Humanities, and the Provost's Academic Excellence Award.

4. Intellectual Programming

The Lisska Center sponsors an array of programs and events designed to promote a culture of intellectual life on campus.

Research Tables

The purpose of Denison’s Research Table’s is threefold: (1) to bring together faculty members from across the college and other institutions to explore various aspects of the liberal arts, using practices that sustain a strong academic community; (2) to create a forum for faculty members from different disciplines to learn from one another; and (3) to deepen the intellectual tone on campus by increasing opportunities for different disciplinary perspectives to intersect and new pathways among faculty and students to form.

Research Tables should focus on multidisciplinary issues of interest to participants who are committed to sustained intellectual exploration within the liberal arts. Research Tables may vary in scope, ranging from limited undertakings similar to reading groups (e.g., locally based members, one-year time-frame) to more ambitious projects (e.g., one or more outside faculty members, travel component, up to a three-year time-frame). All Research Tables must culminate in a focused symposium that brings other scholars and practitioners to Denison. Research Table members must complete a final report summarizing the Research Table’s focus, activities, and outcomes in terms of student learning and faculty research.

Students in good academic standing may be invited by faculty sponsors to participate in a Research Table. Calls for new Research Tables are put out intermittently so that there are no more than four Research Tables running at any given time. Proposals are reviewed by the SRGC.

Experimental College

The Experimental College is a program of student-led, non-credit classes. Teaching an Experimental College course gives students an opportunity to design a syllabus, guide classroom discussion, and engage a small group of peers in a topic of intellectual interest.  Students do not receive course credit for leading or taking the class.

Students interested in teaching an Experimental College course must submit a proposal, including a syllabus, to the Lisska Center for approval. All proposed Experimental College courses must have a designated faculty or staff advisor and must be approved by the Director and Associate Director of the Lisska Center and the Chair(s) of relevant academic departments. The Lisska Center will provide a certificate to students who attend all course sessions and satisfactorily complete the work for the course. The Center also offers a small amount of financial support to cover any costs of course preparation, supplies, and possible field trips. The Lisska Center will put out calls for a limited number of new Experimental College classes once or twice a year.

Faculty Events

The Lisska Center sponsors the Tuesday Faculty Lunch series, the Friday Faculty Lunches in Curtis, and the Faculty Research Dinners.

Other Activities

The Lisska Center hosts Chowder Hours, home-cooked lunches for students, faculty, and staff featuring presentations on the scholarship of an individual or group.The Lisska Center also coordinates the Monday Musings series of informal presentations led by faculty members on their scholarly interests.

Gilpatrick House

Housing is available for up to ten students who have done intensive research (such as Summer Scholars), or who will be doing independent research during the coming academic year.

The Lisska Center encourages students at every stage of their academic career, from first-year students to seniors, to keep in touch with people at the Center, who will help them find and take advantage of research and scholarship opportunities appropriate for each student.