When exposed to low power laser light, photorefractive materials can function as dynamic diffraction gratings, making them attractive for applications in holography and optical image processing. Conventional crystalline photorefractive materials are useful in demonstrations of basic nonlinear optical phenomena at the advanced undergraduate level, although the fabrication of such crystals is beyond the reach of most undergraduate facilities. Within the last five years, however, polymeric photorefractive materials have been developed that can be fabricated by collaborative teams of undergraduate physics and chemistry students. We have found that the study of photorefractive polymers provides an excellent framework to emphasize connections among optics, chemistry, and materials science at a level accessible to undergraduates. We provide an overview of photorefractive polymers, describe the fabrication of a typical photorefractive polymeric system, and discuss experiments in volume holography. © 2001 American Association of Physics Teachers.