Undergraduate Research - Office of Research and Creative Activity - Christopher Newport University

Office of Research and Creative Activity

Student research and creative activity foster independent learning and complement coursework in meaningful, self-enriching ways. It is an academic inquiry conducted by students that employs discipline-specific methodologies and results in a product notable for its originality, rigor and/or creativity.

Suitable products include essays, reports, experiments, artworks or performances. Research opportunities are available in all fields of study, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, applied sciences and fine arts. Much research is interdisciplinary and collaborative, either amongst a group of students or through working with a faculty mentor.

The Office of Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) supports the work of students in all disciplines, programs and majors. We encourage you to visit us to discuss your interests. Begin by registering your student profile with the ORCA Research Match.

The Office of Research and Creative Activity (ORCA) facilitates the integration of student learning through research and creative activity beyond the traditional classroom. We provide opportunities for students to expand research literacy skills and engage in projects that put classroom coursework and academic theory into practice.

We view research as a deep learning experience, which motivates understanding of basic concepts through their application to a question or problem to help students develop a deeper understanding of more complex issues.

The ORCA is open to all students, regardless their major or stage of educational development. We advise and prepare students on how to find research opportunities, how to work with faculty and how to collaborate with each other in innovative and interdisciplinary ways.

We support the presentation of research and creative activity in local (including the annual Paideia research conference), regional and national conferences, juried shows, performances, competitions, other presentation modalities, and journal publication (including The Cupola).

Student Research and Creative Activity

Student research is a mentored investigation that seeks to make a scholarly contribution to knowledge.

Student creative activity is a mentored production of art forms, artistic performance, or other creative effort undertaken to explore the medium of such forms, performances, or efforts.

The ORCA values and respects:

  • Each student’s individual learning path
  • The discovery of new knowledge(s)
  • Intellectual risk-taking
  • An opportunity for active learning, beyond the classroom
  • An opportunity to think about the relationships within and across disciplines

The ORCA values student engagement in research as a path to afford faculty members:

  • Fresh points of view that may reveal new ways of articulating established theories
  • The chance to communicate joy and passion about their research to students
  • The opportunity to invite new students into their disciplinary fields
  • An atmosphere in which students operate as active cooperators in the search for new knowledges rather than as passive recipients of what the faculty member already knows

The ORCA values the role that student research plays in relationship to:

  • Each student’s holistic academic experience
  • classroom learning
  • Personal growth and development of long-term educational and career plans
  • Building a community of scholars

The ORCA values the public presentation and dissemination of each student’s work as:

  • A completion step in the research or creative process
  • A means by which students more fully develop research literacy competencies
  • A way to help students develop skills that are applicable and transferable to their development as future citizens

ORCA was established to implement CNU's Quality Enhancement Plan, Research LENS, aimed at expanding a culture of undergraduate research and creative activity.

CNU is proud to be an Enhanced Institutional Member of the Council on Undergraduate Research. The enhanced institutional membership allows all faculty members, administrators, students, and staff of CNU to join the Council on Undergraduate Research, at no cost.

CNU is a founding member in the Network for Undergraduate Research in Virginia (NURVa).


  • Advising conference and publication opportunities for all students
  • Help with designing conference posters
  • Help with designing PowerPoint demonstrations
  • Mock run-through and critiques of presentations


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