UMBC Interdisciplinary CoLab: Narrative-based Paid Internship

CoLab is a 4-week paid summer narrative-based research internship for undergraduate UMBC students. Participants will create an effective narrative about UMBC’s campus, communities, and lives with an interdisciplinary team of students. Open to all majors, this is an excellent opportunity for students in STEM fields to learn to tell effective stories and for students in social science and humanities fields to gain research and technical skills.

Participants receive a $3000 stipend and a tuition scholarship for a 3-credit internship course.

Program Dates
CoLab 2023 will be held during Summer Session One and meets in-person from Monday, June 5th – Friday, June 30th. PLEASE NOTE: During these dates, student interns are required to dedicate Monday through Friday from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm to the in-person internship.

Summer 2023 Projects

1. A Narrative-Based Curriculum for Writing and Civic Engagement of Latinx Youth

Project Leader: Dr. Felipe Filomeno, Political Science and Global Studies

Community members celebrating a donationBecause of an opportunity gap, Latinx youth lag behind their White American peers in civic engagement and college attainment. To help close this gap, this project will create the content of a writing and civic engagement workshop for Latinx youth in Baltimore. The project team will be working with/for the Latino Racial Justice Circle (LRJC), a local nonprofit organization that promotes the social inclusion of immigrants. The content of the workshop will be entirely digital and will consist of oral histories by local Latinx community leaders, news stories about the local Latinx community, writing prompts, and discussion questions. Once completed, the LRJC will deliver the workshop regularly for Latinx students of local public high schools.

Recommended skills and abilities for applicants
Student members of this project team should have excellent skills in oral and written communication, an interest in community educational programs, and capacity to work on Google sites and to edit audio-recordings.

2. CERA: Conservation Marketing & Engagement

Project Leader: Dr. Jennifer Maher, English

Preserved natural area with wooden walkwayStudents on this project team will work to increase physical and virtual engagement with UMBC’s Conservation and Environmental Research Areas (CERA). Established in 1997, CERA was created to support environmental education and conservation. At present, CERA covers about 50 acres of the UMBC landscape and is located in two different areas. The larger tract, covering approximately 45 acres of the south end of the main campus, is comprised of a wide variety of ecological conditions: mature upland forest, early- and mid- successional forest, and riparian and wetland environments. The second, and much smaller CERA area (about 3 acres), surrounds Pigpen Pond. Management of CERA is guided by the need to maintain these landscapes as natural areas to be preserved and protected for approved uses in education, research, and wildlife observation. To facilitate the use of CERA for varied purposes, students on this project team will work on the following: the redesign of the CERA website to include archival and educational materials; the creation of a brochure to publicize CERA, and the development of new signage at the pond and trail.

Recommended  skills and abilities for applicants
Student members of this interdisciplinary project team will demonstrate intellectual curiosity, strong written and oral communication skills, leadership ability, and solid research and production skills. Ideally, each student will bring a unique set of abilities and experience that creates a well-rounded team with knowledge of environmental science, marketing, graphic design, website production, video editing.

3. Documenting Places of Resistance: Black Tourism and Leisure during the Jim Crow Era

Project Leader: Dr. Liz Patton, Media & Communication Studies

Ebony magazine cover, record, map, family on the beachThe project team will develop a pilot website designed like a travel guidebook featuring archival sources primarily from Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library and the New York Public Library Special Collections. The website will be based on Dr. Liz Patton’s (MCS) archival research for her book project, “Representation as a Form of Resistance: Documenting African American Spaces of Leisure during the Jim Crow Era,” which examines the history of Black leisure and tourism in the US through the perspective of media. The website will feature mapped locations and archival sources such as photographs, home videos, and historic travel guides. Student interns will explore archival material, watch documentaries, and read published articles on the initial places that will be featured on the website. The project team will work collaboratively to produce an introductory essay for the website based on archival materials and published books and articles on the topic and create descriptive narratives for the leisure spaces featured on the website. Student interns will learn to use WordPress for online publishing, Google Maps API, and ArcGIS to create an interactive publicly available website.

Recommended skills and abilities for applicants
All student members of the interdisciplinary team should demonstrate intellectual curiosity, interest in archival research and history, and strong written and oral communication skills. Some qualitative research experience through coursework or internships is preferred. Experience with website design and/or HTML knowledge is preferred. All students will receive training in geographic mapping software (GIS) through the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems (GES).

4. Jazz and Justice: An American Art Form as Civic Deliberation

Project Leader: Dr. Earl Brooks, English

Jazz spelled in neon signCelebrated trumpeter Wynton Marsalis calls jazz a model of participatory democracy and integration. Its performance as well as its complex history bridge the divides between art, rhetorical invention, and civic deliberation. At a time when democracies around the world are grappling with the immense challenges of polarization, wealth inequality, mistrust of institutions, and a media landscape that is as disorienting as it is informative, the history and vitality of jazz takes on a new importance. What does jazz teach us about navigating the issues that paralyze and fracture public consensus? This project team attempts to wrestle with such questions by exploring the local history of jazz in Baltimore. Students will work with the Baltimore Jazz Alliance to create content to educate the public about the history and importance of jazz for the Alliance’s newsletter and website. Students will also work with archival materials in UMBC’S Special Collections.

Recommended skills and abilities for applicants
This project requires students to build strong written and oral communication skills,
facility with multimedia composing platforms (i.e. Adobe Spark, Audacity, iMovie), research skills, leadership ability, logistics, and organizational strategies.

5. UMBC Special Collections LGBTQ+ Oral History Project

Project Leader: Dr. Kate Drabinski, Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies

Selfie of students and oral history participant An interdisciplinary team of student researchers will build a website for Special Collections that highlights the UMBC LGBTQ+ Oral History Project collection. They will also write a guide for future students about how to add to and revise the website as new oral histories are added.

The project team will also complete 2-4 research projects with the collection that both share information gleaned from the oral histories and provide teaching materials for instructional librarians to help other researchers discover what we can do with oral histories. These research projects might include a podcast based on the oral histories in the collection, digital stories, a zine, or written essays that demonstrate how oral histories can be engaged in storytelling and research practices. The project’s goal is to make UMBC’s LGBTQ+ oral history collection and associated materials accessible to researchers, including UMBC students.

Recommended skills and abilities for applicants
Student members of the interdisciplinary team should come to the project with an interest
in understanding LGBTQ+ history and issues, a curiosity about storytelling, and strong written and oral communication skills. At least one student should have some experience with oral histories, podcasting, or other public humanities skills. Students will be trained to use the Omeka platform, but it would be helpful to have at least one member of the research team with some familiarity with website design skills.

Application requirements

  • To apply, you must be a UMBC degree-seeking undergraduate student, have completed at least 30 credits at UMBC, and you must submit an unofficial UMBC transcript
  • Your transcript must indicate that your UMBC cumulative grade point average is 3.20 or greater.
  • The review committee will only consider applications that meet the minimum qualifications and requirements. However, selection for this internship is competitive; therefore, meeting the minimum qualifications does not guarantee your selection.
  • You must complete the full application and answer all questions.

Apply Now

The Application is now open and closes at 8pm on Monday, March 13.

Want to see more CoLab? Have a look at what past students accomplished during their internships! See Past Projects.


Please contact Dr. Rachel Carter at

The UMBC Interdisciplinary CoLab program is a partnership between The Office of Summer, Winter & Special Programs; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; and the Provost’s Interdisciplinary Activities Advisory Committee.