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Research & Scholarship

The opportunities for student research are diverse, robust, and numerous. In addition to curriculum-based research, students can initiate semester-long independent research projects for credit, and many take advantage of grant-funded programs for summer research worldwide.

Whether in the sciences, arts, or humanities, students take ownership over their research projects and in many cases serve as first or second authors on published work.

Independent Research

Within the Art Department, independent study courses enable students to complete individual research with a faculty member. Recently students have explored such topics as art and medicine, contemporary art and fashion, the black body, a 3D-printed exhibition of antiquities from cyprus, the Davidson College art collection, and mural painting, among many others, with some producing work for publication and/or exhibition.

In addition to research-based coursework, our thesis/capstone program is designed to promote, develop and recognize individual excellence through a semester, year or more of directed independent research. Art history majors spend the fall of their senior year applying theory to a topic of their choice in the perspectives seminar and then study a faculty-selected topic in the spring capstone course and travel to a relevant destination to present their individual research. Studio art majors spend their senior year preparing for a solo exhibition to be presented in the Smith Gallery.

Art history majors who qualify for honors choose their thesis topics during fall of their senior years and work with faculty advisers throughout their projects.

Research with Professors

Our faculty members have a wide variety of research interests, both within and beyond their course topics, and often collaborate with students on research projects. They involve students in meaningful ways, and as a result students often serve as co-authors on published research papers and articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Some current examples of faculty research range from "Art and Environmentalism: Greening of Modern Architecture," "Exploring Spatial Concepts in Renaissance Painting in Europe," digital projects, and "Making Art for Social Impact."

Summer Research

Students have multiple options for summer research, many of them paid. The grant-funded Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) allows first-year, sophomore, and junior students to design research projects, engage with faculty mentors for guidance and collaboration, and present and publish their findings. Some recent DRI projects in the art department have included studying Gothic Cathedral mosaics in France and researching Persian gardens in Iran.

In addition to the many DRI-supported opportunities, a variety of offices on campus offer grants or are affiliated with external grant programs.