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Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholars Program 

The Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholars Program has been in existence since the beginning of the WCCFL. Its aim is to link faculty with upper-level students who are considering pursuing graduate school. The program requires that faculty and students pursue a research project that is intended for presentation at a regional or national conference that features undergraduate research. Faculty members are encouraged to serve as mentors, helping students to discern whether the vocation of a Christian professor might be in their future.

Mentoring the Next Generation of Christian Scholars

Since 1993, Whitworth University has participated in a program, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which is designed to encourage, educate and inspire a future generation of Christian academics. Since 1998, the program has been sponsored by Whitworth's Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning. The program is designed to identify academically gifted undergraduate students and to encourage them to pursue scholarly careers as Christian vocations. The program is structured around a one-to-one mentoring relationship with a faculty member, and it assists students as they make the transition from undergraduate to graduate work. Students interact with first-rate Christian scholars and are encouraged to believe that they can make significant contributions as Christian scholars themselves.

Dale E. Soden, Ph.D.
Department of History

The objectives of the Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholars Program are as follows:

  • to identify students with scholarly potential;
  • to encourage their pursuit of academic careers;
  • to educate students regarding careers in academia;
  • to inform students of graduate school opportunities;
  • to explore the challenges associated with being a Christian intellectual in a secular world .

The essence of the program is a mentoring relationship between a student and a faculty member.
Faculty members identify a student with whom they want to work and whom they wish to encourage to go on to graduate school. The faculty member and the student should agree to work on a project or independent study during the course of the year for the purpose of presenting a paper or poster session as part of Whitworth’s annual research conference in the spring and/or at an undergraduate conference elsewhere in the country.

The program offers the following support:

  • Each faculty member selected will receive $350.
  • Each student selected will receive $200.
  • Each faculty member will receive up to an additional $50 to support coffee or other food-related expenses as part of the mentoring relationship.
  • Each student will receive up to $750 for travel and other expenses related to research and/or presentation.

What is the benefit for the student?
This program benefits the student primarily by providing him or her with the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member on a project that is more advanced than the typical undergraduate assignment. After working with the student, the faculty member should be able to write a stronger letter of recommendation for the student when s/he applies to graduate school.

What disciplines can participate in the program?
All disciplines are eligible.

For which students is the program intended? 
The program is intended for junior- or senior-level students who are seriously considering enrolling in graduate school and who reflect a strong potential for a career in academia.

Must projects have a faith-learning emphasis?
No. Though the Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholars Program seeks to raise a generation of Christian voices in the academy, the program recognizes that not every piece of research by these voices will be directly informed by a faith perspective; however, issues related to faith perspectives and the academy will be discussed.

What is expected of participating faculty?
The heart of the program is building mentoring relationships between distinguished students and Christian scholars. A faculty member is expected, in addition to nurturing the mentoring relationship,to guide the proposed plan of research for the student with whom s/he is paired in the Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholar's Program. The plan may stem from the student's emerging interests or may continue a line of research in which the faculty mentor is involved.

What is the application procedure?
Initial contacts may be made in one of two ways: a) Interested students may approach faculty regarding the establishment of a mentoring relationship in the same way that they may approach faculty regarding an independent study, or b) faculty may solicit the participation of appropriate students.

Students must have the clear potential for, and an appropriate interest in, scholarly vocations. A student must have a faculty mentor. Please contact Dale Soden, Ph.D., if you want to participate in the program. Once a faculty mentor has agreed to supervise your project, email Dr. Soden regarding your interest in the program and inform him of the name of your faculty mentor.

What have previous scholars gone on to do?
Many Weyerhaeuser Younger Scholars have continued into advanced degree programs. Check the past scholars listing for further details.