Quick Facts

Section 1


EUI Quick Fact Sheet


The Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) began in 2002 at the University of Illinois. We sponsor faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on the university and preserve their findings in IDEALS (Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship), for future students, and others, to draw upon. Because the archive preserves student created documents related to the process of their research, the EUI IDEALS archives serves as a unique and publicly accessible documentation of student learning.


To date, over 100 EUI courses have been taught in 6 different U of I colleges and 17 different departments. EUI courses have also been offered at Illinois State University, Parkland College, Syracuse University, Ithaca University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Archives of Student Work

EUI has archived over 1,200 student projects and presentations in IDEALS, including research process documents and transcripts related to those projects. Not only is EUI the largest contributor of current research to IDEALS, an EUI student project tops IDEALS' list of most frequently downloaded entries.

Faculty Development Seminars

Since its inception EUI has conducted faculty development seminars each semester with over 70 instructors, who participate in a one-day development seminar in which we familiarize participants with institutional review board compliance, our customized course management platform in Moodle, our archives in IDEALS, student intellectual property rights, secondary literature on the U.S. university, and pedagogical approaches to conducting ethnographic and archival research. Additionally, EUI faculty attend 1-2 faculty meetings during the semester they are teaching.

Student Conferences

Beginning in the Fall of '04, EUI has hosted a conference of student research each semester. This joint institutional conference, including participants from the University of Illinois, Parkland College and Illinois State University, has allowed several hundred students so far to present their work in EUI courses either through a poster session or panel presentations. With the Spring of 2012, this now includes multimedia presentations from our pilot multimeda courses program. Although our student conference has steadily grown in the number of applicants every semester, all students in EUI courses have the opportunity to participate. In Fall of '07, EUI introduced a best presentation award including a small cash prize.

Larger Projects and Reports

Visualizing the Difference Diversity Makes. Faculty at CDMS consulted with EUI prior to their application for the Ford Foundation Grant, Documenting the Difference that Diversity Makes. EUI was awarded funds to examine the EUI archives of research on diversity, an analysis that took fruition as an interactive media feature, currently housed on the EUI website. EUI also participated actively in the making of the larger Report prepared under the sponsorship of the grant.

Ethnography of the Brown Commemoration

EUI was contracted by the Brown v. Board of Education Jubilee Commemoration Committee to study the U of I's 2003-04 comprehensive campus-wide activities devoted to commemorating Brown and generating a productive campus conversation about diversity. Those findings are captured in a report submitted to the Chancellor in November 2007, and in an interactive media feature housed on the EUI website.

Outreach and Special Recognition

In Spring '08 EUI was invited to submit an article on its programs to CHANGE: The Magazine of Higher Learning edited by the Carnegie Foundation. EUI actively seeks partnerships with other institutions and has received invitations to present our program at Syracuse University and has presented at Illinois Wesleyan University. Locally, EUI is a frequent presenter at the U of I's annual faculty retreat, and has presented to the Higher Education Collaborative as well as to six departments and units around campus. EUI is currently under study by Jeremy Hunsinger, Visiting Assistant Professor of Communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. EUI has as of 2007 begun generating "recommendation lists" in which we present recommendations for the university culled from the student work of the semester to increase visibility of student work.

Program Evaluation

EUI has piloted surveys to assess student learning in one course, and in Spring '08 worked on devising assessment instruments to evaluate the contributions of our programs to student learning in the rhetoric sections. Because our experience to date suggests that many EUI students extend research begun in EUI courses in other contexts, such as independent studies, honors theses, summer work, or other courses, we are beginning to compile data on these students to determine the long-term impact of the EUI experience on learning. In Spring ’08, Gina Hunter (Illinois State University) received a $4000 grant from ISU’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Program to examine learning outcomes of her former EUI students. Her study resulted in several conference presentations, as well as publication of an article in the journal Pedagogy.

External Advisory Committee

EUI's External Advisory Committee was formed in 2007 to advise EUI's long-term development. One hundred percent of those solicited to join the board accepted.

Internal Advisory Board

EUI's Internal Advisory Board is made up of a combination of U of I faculty, students and staff.

EUI Personnel

EUI is staffed by a full-time program coordinator, who oversees the day-to-day operation of the program, including IRB training of faculty and students, and special projects. Four faculty, three at U of I and one at ISU, share directing duties.


  • Nancy Abelmann, Henry E. Preble Professor of Anthropology and East Asian and Pacific Studies, U of I
  • Gina Hunter, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Illinois State University
  • Tim Cain, Assistant Professor of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, U of I
  • Sharon Irish, Project Coordinator, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, U of I

Program Coordinator

  • Karen Rodriguez'G (Visiting)