Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies

RIRS Application Guidelines (PDF)

The Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies is an eight-week summer program in which students of any major pursue research and creative projects through the regional lens of Memphis and the Mid-South area. Grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the Rhodes Institute brings together students and faculty to engage in an intimate intellectual odyssey.

The program provides a $3,000 stipend, housing, F11 credit, and unparalleled opportunities to explore Memphis and the region through field trips, focused academic research, student-faculty interaction, and more.

At the end of the summer, fellows submit their projects to a permanent digital collection. Projects can range from research papers, to podcasts, to documentary films, and more. In addition, students are encouraged to continue their research beyond the Institute, and many projects serve as the foundation for senior capstones and postgraduate opportunities.


The First-Week Seminar

Participants spend their first week of RIRS engaged in an immersive regional studies seminar, traveling to sites in and beyond Memphis and learning from community leaders. Each day of the week, faculty provide information and insight from their own disciplinary perspectives through lectures, readings, and discussions. Through the seminar, Institute fellows develop a sense of the unique attributes and contributions of the city and region.

Independent Research

After gaining a broad, interdisciplinary perspective in the seminar, students spend the following six weeks embarking on their own specialized research or creative project. Institute fellows leave the confines of the classroom and go into the community to work in libraries and archives, conduct interviews, or work in collaboration with other organizations.

Although each fellow works under the supervision of a faculty mentor within a specific discipline, all members of the Institute faculty take part in weekly discussions about projects. During these sessions, fellows receive guidance from faculty and make connections with one another about their various projects.

The six-week independent research period also includes continued regional immersion through weekly meals and discussions with Memphis-area leaders.

Regional and Community Engagement

Because the program focuses on the Memphis and the Mid-South, the Rhodes Institute serves as a cultural immersion experience, providing the fellows the chance to get to know the region in ways that few Rhodes students do. The region—encompassing an approximately 200-mile radius from Memphis—has figured prominently in the social, cultural, political, and economic life of the nation. The area’s racial and cultural diversity, its significant contributions to literature and music, its pivotal role in the history of civil rights, the prominence of its national political leaders, and its growing importance as a commercial and distribution hub make it an ideal place for research.

The Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies is made possible by the generous support of the Robert and Ruby Priddy Charitable Trust of Wichita Falls, Texas and the Mike Curb Family Foundation.