College of Humanities & Social Sciences

NSF REU Site: Multidisciplinary Training in Quantitative Methods

Program Information for Summer 2020

Dusty road with shadows of peopleThis REU program is supported by an award from the U.S. National Science Foundation (Award # 1852411) to Western Washington University as part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program. The primary purpose of this REU program is to teach students about social science research and to enhance their learning through an applied research project in Rwanda. The REU program is coordinated by Dr. Seth Feinberg from the Department of Sociology and Dr. Hilary Schwandt from Fairhaven College. Participants will also work alongside Rwandan faculty and student colleagues from partner universities in Rwanda. Students will learn about research methods prior to conducting research collaboratively in Rwanda and then write up the results of the work for eventual publication.

The project is to examine a portion of the family planning program in Rwanda. Family planning use in Rwanda increased dramatically from 17% to 52% in five short years, between 2005 and 2010. Our research is examining possible reasons for this success – particularly issues around youth access to and use of contraceptives and client-provider relationships in term of sustaining contraceptive use despite the experience of side effects.

Applications are open to all undergraduate students that meet the eligibility requirements listed below. An emphasis will be placed on admitting students who may not otherwise have research opportunities available to them at their undergraduate institution. Students who are underrepresented minorities, first-generation college students, from lower-income backgrounds, veterans and members of the armed forces, disabled, or attending institutions with no or few research opportunities for students are especially encouraged to apply. Previous research experience is not a requirement; however, a hunger to engage in learning about and conducting social science research is necessary. Participants will have the option to earn academic credits for their participation through Western Washington University.



The REU Fellowship includes a $4,000 stipend, domestic and international travel, as well as housing in Bellingham and in Rwanda. Meals are partially covered in Bellingham and fully covered during international travel. Health insurance is provided during international travel but will not be provided to students while in the U.S.

To be eligible for the WWU REU program, you must:

  • be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident
  • be a full-time student at a university, college, or community college
  • be a respectful visitor in a foreign country
  • must have a passport valid through February 2021
  • be available between June 15 and August 15, 2020 for the face-to-face portion of the program
  • not be enrolled in other coursework or have employment responsibilities during the eight weeks of the face-to-face program


Approximate program time-line:

  • 2 weeks of coursework at WWU in Bellingham, WA
  • 4 weeks of data collection and collaboration in Rwanda
  • 2 weeks of analysis and manuscript preparation at WWU in Bellingham, WA


About the Faculty:

Seth Feinberg earned his masters and doctoral degrees from the Ohio State University in Sociology. He has been teaching undergraduates at Western Washington University since 2005, and previously taught at Montana State University. In addition to the Rwanda REU program, his research interests include the racial inequities in the labor markets of collegiate and professional football, and post-colonial trajectories for sub-Saharan African states.

Hilary Schwandt, MHS PhD, earned her masters and doctoral degrees from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Population, Family and Reproductive Health Department. She has been teaching undergraduates at Western Washington University at Fairhaven College for the past six years. In terms of research, Hilary is passionate about primary prevention – particularly with a focus on unwanted pregnancy prevention, and the use of family planning to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the following sequelae. Hilary is particularly in awe of the success of Rwanda in terms of family planning use and enjoys doing research in Rwanda to better elucidate the factors that contribute to Rwanda’s success.



The students selected to participate in this program are expected to be fully present for the program, physically and mentally, for the entire eight-week duration of the program. We expect students to attend all coursework, field activities, and meetings as scheduled. If any accommodations are needed, we expect the students to initiate communication about their needs with us in advance of the planned events. We also expect students to be available for online communication and work prior to the mid-June start of the REU.

Application Form 

Click the link above. Please follow all directions on the application form. Direct questions to

All portions of your application must be received on or before November 1, 2019 for priority consideration. Applications will be considered until all spots are awarded.


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