Ethnography of the University Initiative



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  • 217-244-7733


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  • University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign

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The Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) began in 2002 as a group of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Illinois interested in research on universities as institutions. Early on we agreed that universities and colleges are complex institutions with multifaceted and often conflicting values, commitments, and identities. We envisioned a collaborative, campus-wide project, dedicated to directing and supporting student inquiry on the university.

We had little idea of the many twists and turns this initiative would take, or the impact it would have. We knew it would grow and develop across theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary borders, but never could we have imagined it becoming a home for such innovative student research. Thanks to sustained interest from various campus units EUI is alive-and-well, and true to our history, still growing and changing.

At the heart of EUI are our courses: taught by faculty who have designed or redesigned classes with research on the university as the focus. To date, well over 100 EUI-affiliated courses have been taught on six different campuses (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois State University, Parkland College, Ithaca College and Syracuse University). These courses are spread across diverse departments, ranging from Rhetoric and Kinesiology to Anthropology, Sociology, History, and Urban Planning.

From these EUI-affiliated courses, nearly 1,000 student research projects have been archived for public and/or EUI use via the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS), an online repository of research and scholarship of faculty, staff, and students of the University of Illinois.