Research Cluster: Science and Subjectivity

Eric Kandel

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The Research Cluster for Science and Subjectivity (RCSS) provides undergraduates with the experience of taking responsibility for their own work as future scientists and physicians who will practice with a more complete understanding of their fields and who they care for. We do this by providing stipends for students who propose and carry out their own projects, which involve aspects of science, subjectivity, and service. We envision future generations of scientists, physicians, and other science-grounded professionals building their careers in realization of a more complete human experience.

Together, RCSS undergraduate interns currently explore:

  • Spirituality and the arts in end-of-life care
  • The role of race and inequality in healthcare
  • Ethics and implications of genetics in healthcare

The first and only program of its kind at Columbia University, RCSS is led by undergraduate students under the direction of Cluster Leader Dr. Robert Pollack. Undergraduate interns have assisted in developing two 4-point courses that each combine interdisciplinary studies and service learning:

  • Life at the End of Life
  • Marginalization in Medicine (read the full article about this course)

In creating these courses, students were able to advocate for and fill a gap they thought was missing in our education. The courses have been a great success with full enrollments and waitlists.

Other projects include:

  • Music and art therapy at Terence Cardinal Cooke (an end-of-life care facility)
  • The intergenerational housing project
  • Developing an exchange program with Queens University in Brisbane, Australia

The experience of leading a project or helping to create a class has allowed students to investigate academic issues while developing real-world skills and having an opportunity to impact their communities.

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