Research shifts the line between the known and unknown.
TCU is a dynamic, living and breathing thing. Every part of the university is important, and some are absolutely essential. One essential part is research. I love research.
Without research, a university grows stagnant and diminishes its capacity to educate.
Scholarship informs teaching like nothing else. The university’s curriculum is designed to convey what is known. Active researchers invite students to explore the unknown based on what is known. Education leads to testing the boundary between these two, and research moves that line.
Teaching informs scholarship like nothing else. By explaining a complicated concept, teachers will begin to see what they do not yet know and understand. Storytelling goes along with the discovery process. Engaging students in the stories makes the process inviting, exciting and effective. Serious students at all levels drive research agendas with their questions and curiosity.
Upon beginning my first graduate degree, I was assigned to Jerry Meike, a professor of mathematics and statistics at Wright State University, as a mentee and assistant. He was a wonderful teacher who showed me the value of offering varied examples. When students don’t understand a mathematical concept, it doesn’t do much good to go over the same example and explanation for them. They need to see different examples to illustrate the concept because they didn’t get it from the first example.
One day I commented to him that I would like to earn a Ph.D. and “know it all.” He corrected me quickly. Earning the Ph.D., a research degree, requires understanding how much more there is to discover. A human can never know it all. Dr. Meike sparked my lifelong love of discovery.
Now I know that research is a process through which knowledge is created, discovered and shared in hopes the human condition can be better understood and thus improved.
Just as the university has many parts, the research enterprise has many parts, all making unique contributions. The arts and humanities explore and expand our abilities to interpret and convey the human story. Science explains the physical and social aspects of life. Business designs the complex industries and economies so essential to advancing the human condition. Health and technology disciplines use science to craft responses to human needs.
The lens of each discipline inspires students to think critically. Perhaps those students will become the scholars who continue to expand the boundaries of what is known.
Ask a researcher to share the story of their scholarship, and you will see that research is beautiful. The geologist finds beauty in the dull rock. The computer scientist is in awe of the beautifully designed code that implements a complex algorithm. The religion scholar is excited by the discovery of an old parable that sheds light on early human spirituality. The research stories in this issue of Endeavors provide a multisensory look at the storyteller’s passion for discovery. I hope they will ignite your desire to explore how we can better understand, and then improve, the human condition.
Bonnie E. Melhart,