Editorial: Life in an R2 university


The most important thing about college is that it fosters growth and discovery. One of the greatest parts about Lehigh specifically is that students and professors alike are encouraged to follow their passions.

Through getting involved at Lehigh, any student can find a club, organization, course or area of study that they are passionate about. But the responsibility falls on us as students to understand how these activities apply to the real world.

Learning is not confined only to a classroom. Outside of Lehigh, global studies majors might work with finance majors. Students who graduate with an engineering degree may professionally collaborate with students who studied sustainable development. In the real world, you need to have a broader scope of professional understanding. In order for an organization to succeed, there must be a collaboration of diverse minds and expertise.

It is crucial to understand the interdisciplinary nature of learning. While everyone likes to get good grades, there is a difference between people who actually absorb what they learn — even if it’s information from one core impactful class — and students who simply want a high GPA but don’t comprehend the material they’re learning. Students who acknowledge that everything ties together appear to be more willing to learn.

Imagine a spectrum where one end is completely structured and the other is completely freeform. College is the time to find out where you fit. It is the time to experiment with various lifestyles and to be unafraid to explore diverse interests.

This spectrum applies to professors, just as it does students.

Professors’ courses are what enable students to identify their passions and pursue them. Every professor here at Lehigh has a different approach their job. They have various teaching styles, syllabi and priorities in the classroom.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is a framework created in 1970 that classifies institutions throughout the United States based on education and research. It provides comparisons of colleges and universities drawing information from the College Board and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

This framework classifies institutions into one of three categories: Highest Research Activity – R1, Higher Research Activity – R2, and Moderate Research Activity – R3.

Lehigh falls under the “Higher Research Activity – R2” category, meaning that Lehigh employs professors that prioritize either research or teaching.

Going to a research university enables students to directly interact with academics who are innovators in their fields. Students have the opportunity to engage with professors’ research by reading it in the classroom or helping conduct it in the lab.

As both a research institution and a teaching institution, Lehigh doesn’t prioritize one over the other. There is room for both on this campus. Students have the option to lean to either research or a classroom setting.

Over the course of our semesters in college, it is easy to pick out the professors who are at Lehigh specifically for research purposes and those who are here to put equal effort into teaching and creating a stellar syllabus.

With so many professors who have different approaches to higher education, students can learn how to take different approaches to their own lives. There are myriad ways to engage and learn.

As you go through your undergraduate career, take the time to think about what learning styles and environments suit you best, and seek out those kinds of opportunities. Taking advantage of Lehigh’s R2 status can enable you to work both in the classroom and in the lab, abroad and domestically, and academically and practically.

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