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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award

Details on the current year's award requirements and timeline

2023-2024 Award Description

decorative image of planet EarthThe Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award promotes in-depth understanding of sustainability topics,
research strategies, and the use of library resources, providing participating students with vital skills they will carry into future academic and vocational endeavors.  It is funded by the award-winning UMass Amherst Libraries’ Sustainability Fund. 

 

We are accepting two types of submissions this year: 

Option 1: Previous academic work related to sustainability completed during Spring 2023, Summer 2023, Fall 2023, or Spring 2024 semesters and while an undergraduate student at UMass Amherst. This academic work can be in any format (paper, poster, presentation, art, video, etc.).

Academic works co-created or co-authored with graduate students, faculty, staff members, or anyone who is not a UMass Amherst undergraduate student are not eligible for this award.

Option 2: An original research project completed during Spring 2023, Summer 2023, Fall 2023, or Spring 2024 semesters and while an undergraduate student at UMass Amherst. This project needs to be supported by facts (which are cited), but does not need to be tied to a class. It can be in any format (paper, poster, presentation, art, video, etc.).

Projects co-created or co-authored with graduate students, faculty, staff members, or anyone who is not a UMass Amherst undergraduate student are not eligible for this award.

For both options, on the submission form, you will be asked to include:

  • A context statement describing why you chose the topic or focus area of your submission and how it relates to sustainability. Art submissions can include your artists' statement. (maximum 300 words)
  • How you used campus and library resources.
  • Statement of support from a UMass Amherst faculty member who knows your work (does not have to be the instructor of the course for previous work). Upload a document from the faculty member, which could be either an email (with headers showing it came from the faculty member) or a signed letter.

If submitting previous work, you will be prompted for the class it was for and the assignment.

Five (5) scholarships of $1,000 will be awarded. 

Group Submissions

  • Only one member of the group should submit an entry.
  • ALL group members need to be current UMass undergraduate students (no graduate students, faculty, staff members, or anyone who is not a UMass Amherst undergraduate student can be part of the group).
  • The submission form will have space to list other group members, along with their SPIRE id.
  • If selected as one of the winning entries, group members will split the $1000 scholarship. 

To learn more about sustainability efforts at UMass check out these links:

Timeline

February 1, 2024 - Open for submissions (Beginning of Spring Semester)

March 15, 2024 - Application materials due by 11:55 p.m. (Late submissions will not be accepted. Incomplete submissions will not be eligible for award consideration.)

April 3, 2024 - Deadline for notification of awards.

April 10, 2024 - RSVPs due for reception

April 25, 2024 - Reception at the Science & Engineering Library to recognize and celebrate award winners with their invited guests. 

Eligibility

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a full- or part-time UMass Amherst undergraduate enrolled in any discipline and at any level.
    • If you are in a 4+1 program, you are only eligible while you are in the first 4 years. 
  • Diversity of age, ability, race, religion, gender, social class, educational background is welcome.
  • Submissions must be completely the work of UMass Amherst undergraduate students - no faculty, staff, graduate student, or non-UMass Amherst undergraduate student co-authors or collaborators.
  • If awarded, you agree to have your submission added to ScholarWorks, the UMass Amherst digital showcase (with a Creative Commons license of your choosing)
  • If awarded, you will make every effort to attend library reception at the Science & Engineering Library on Thursday, April 25 (time TBD). 

Submission Details

The submission form will accept applications from February 1, 2024 until 11:55 p.m. March 15, 2024. 

All parts of your submission packet, including the faculty letter, must be submitted prior to the deadline. Late submissions will not be accepted. Incomplete submissions will not be eligible for award consideration.

The submission form requires:

  • Name, UMass email, and SPIRE id for the submitter and if a group entry, for each member of the group. 
  • A context statement describing why you chose the topic or focus area of your submission and how it relates to sustainability. Art submissions can include your artists' statement. (maximum 300 words)
  • How you used campus and library resources.
  • Indication of the Citation Style used for references.
  • Statement of support from a UMass Amherst faculty member who knows your work. (This does not have to be the instructor of the course for previous work.)
  • For previous academic work, the class name, course number, and assignment.
  • A file upload of your previous academic work or original research project.
    • You will only be allowed to upload 1 file. We acknowledge that many courses have multiple assignments that build upon each other, but please choose only one of those assignments to submit.
  • Declaration that the work was done by UMass Amherst undergraduate students and does not include contributions from graduate students, faculty, staff members, or anyone who is not a UMass Amherst undergraduate student.

Open the submission form

Review Process

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of librarians and staff from the Science & Engineering Library.

Evaluation criteria includes:

  • Substantive Topic
    • Potential for sustainability change or broader sustainability awareness/appreciation (environmental, social, and/or economic).
    • Broad scope (geographic or in aspect of sustainability work) or in-depth analysis score highest.
  • Research Strategy
    • Research methodology
      • UMass Libraries/other resources searched
      • keywords used or other search strategies
      • use of sources to find other sources
    • Depth and breadth of sources
      • All academic? All from single journal/NGO?
      • Direct quotes only? Or supporting ideas behind other arguments, too?
    • Refer to information provided on submission form
  • Attribution of Sources
    • Consistent formatting throughout with in-text notation (superscript, author-date, etc.) and complete reference list or footnotes/endnotes.
    • Quotes, paraphrasing, and credit for others' original ideas all clearly attributed.
    • Sources include all information needed for reviewers to track down full text.
    • Applicants should declare the citation style they are using.
      • We suggest you choose APA, MLA, AMA, Chicago/Turabian or another popular citation style. 
      • No points lost for minutia of punctuation/capitalization, as long as overall style is consistent.
  • Effectiveness of Communication 
    • Compelling narrative or imagery, writing is coherent/imagery conveys the meaning intended (compare to context statement from submission form), facts are conveyed to support the argument/emotions evoked as intended.
    • Disregard minor grammatical mistakes.
  • Overall Impression