Cultural Connections: A (Literal) Marriage of Cultures

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Each month, Global Thinking features a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post provides an inside look at TA Aori Rodriguez’s wedding, which combined elements of Japanese, Mexican, and American wedding traditions for a truly international celebration!

aori-wedding1Recently, our Japanese teaching assistant, Aori Inoue, became Aori Rodriguez. Aori married her long-time boyfriend officially on October 26th, 2014 in small wedding ceremony that was an amazing collage of cultures. While Aori is from Japan, Arturo, her new husband, is originally from Mexico, and the United States has become their home. This wedding was an intersection of all three cultures.

Many of Aori’s and Arturo’s wedding activities represented the merging of Japanese, Mexican, and American wedding culture. During the wedding ceremony, the couple each presented their country’s flag, in addition to playing games from their respective countries. Such activities included a common Japanese quiz game about the bride and groom, a Mexican line dance, and many Mexican wedding games. They also created new versions of old traditions.  Single ladies were able to catch bouquet, while men tried to catch an afro wig! Aori said that she really wanted all guests to have an enjoyable time.

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Kokeshi (bottom) and rabbit dolls made by Aori and her grandmother (top)

One Japanese tradition that was displayed at their wedding was the presentation of bride and groom dolls. Several Asian cultures also observe this tradition of having the couple represented by dolls. Aori’s wedding had both a kokeshi and a rabbit couple doll. Kokeshi are Japanese wooden peg dolls which are carved and painted in simple patterns; they are also often given to married couples. One of Aori’s friends from Japan sent her a wedding gift of a hand-carved kokeshi. More special to Aori was a rabbit couple doll that she and her grandmother crafted together. The bride rabbit wore a kimono, while the groom had traditional Mexican wedding clothes. The dolls were rabbits to represent the pet bunny that Aori and Arturo have together.

Although Aori and Arturo included many traditions into their wedding from their respective cultures, some were left out. They decided not to practice the Japanese tradition in which the guests are required to bring money to attend the wedding. It usually costs between $300-$1000 depending on your relationship to the bride and groom. The American and Mexican tradition of a wedding registry was also an idea that they opposed, as they were happy to just have their friends and family. Although they did not register, many guests brought them gifts anyway. In addition they disliked the tradition of having a maid of honor and best man,  as they felt it mean to rank their friends. Japan does not have this kind of tradition, instead they group guests at tables based on how well they know the bride and groom, such as guests from university, work colleagues, etc. In Mexican and American weddings, the garter game is played in which the bride sits in a chair and the groom is blind folded. He then proceeds to try to remove the garter with his mouth, which is not something the couple was comfortable with.

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Aori in one of her wedding kimonos

As Aori and Arturo have family and friends across the globe, they will be taking their wedding to multiple locations. This will give Aori the opportunity to practice another Japanese tradition: multiple wedding dresses. In Japan brides wear at least two different kimonos and two to four different colored dresses in addition to the main white wedding dress. For each of her weddings, Aori has had a different dress and she plans to continue this trend with her future weddings. So, although Arturo was reluctant to buy so many dresses, this is a tradition which Aori is really excited for.

By traveling to be with their friends and family, Aori and Arturo will be able to have their Japanese ceremony at the Shinto shrine in Kobe where Aori was baptized as a baby. There are many rituals in a Japanese wedding. For example, the couple takes nine sips of sake (three sips from three cups) in order to become husband and wife. The reason why it should be three is that it cannot be divided in two, just as the couple cannot. The major Japanese wedding superstition is the concept of a lucky or unlucky day for events. The date on Aori’s marriage license is October 26th, which is considered the luckiest and most ideal day of marriage. Different levels of luck are assigned to days as indicated on the Japanese Rokuyou calendars and it varies each year. There are also many words and gifts that are unacceptable for a Japanese wedding as they symbolize the separation of a couple. Bad luck items include things to cut with and breakable items, such as kitchen knives and mirrors respectively. These items and words remind people of cutting the connection between two people or breaking the relationship. Therefore, in a Japanese wedding they do not say “cutting the wedding cake,” but rather, “placing the samurai sword into the cake.”

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Placing the samurai sword into the cake

Aori and Arturo’s wedding was a wonderful celebration of not only their time together, but also the union of many different cultures. The International Languages and Cultures would like to wish Aori and Arturo a long and happy marriage. We hope that they continue to take the best from the culture that they are in and combine them in a way that is best for them.

Global MA Spotlight: Josh Lange

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Each term, the College of Arts & Sciences highlights one of its Global MA students from the International Relations or International Nongovernmental Organizations programs.

Josh Lange is originally from Collinsville, Illinois. He has been interested in international relations since his sophomore year of college and his interest has only grown since then. Though he is interested in many of the different aspects associated with the IR field of study, his top 3 include international law, human rights, and environmental policy. We checked in with Josh in London, where he’s wrapping up his second spring term as a Global.

 

What is your current city, and what’s your next stop?

I’m currently in London and my next stop is Leiden, The Netherlands.

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What has been your best experience so far in the GMAIR program?

Out of a plethora of great experiences I’ve had during this program, I would have to say my best experience so far has been being able to go skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland one weekend during my term in Geneva.  Apart from looking like the location that most Christmas cards are based on, Zermatt is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been.  Also, being able to ski (poorly) in the Swiss Alps was something I never though I’d get to do.

Which city has been your favorite so far in the program and why?

This is a tough question seeing as I’ve immensely enjoyed every city.  But if I had to pick one it would be Geneva, Switzerland.  Though Geneva may not be as large as some of the other cities I’ve studied in, it is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.  Being able to view the mountains any time I want is not something I’m used to back home.  Furthermore, the campus is located in a beautiful spot with a great view of the mountains.  I also liked the fact that Geneva isn’t too large of a city.  Getting around was very simple and the public transportation system was exceptional.  Geneva being one of the most international cities in the world was also something that appealed to me.  With many international organizations located either in or around Geneva, the city is full of people from all around the world.  Lastly, I was treated very well in Geneva.  The people were friendly and very helpful whenever I had a question about anything.

What has been your biggest challenge as you adapt to different cultures during your travels?

Though many challenges exist, I would have to say my biggest would have to be moving from place to place every 2 months.  It seems that once I get comfortable in one place, it is time to move on to the next one.  Though I expected this aspect of the program to be a challenge before the program even started, having to move to completely different places with new cultures and different societal norms has been challenging.

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What is the best part about the GMAIR program, academically speaking?

Academically speaking, the best part of the GMAIR program has been being able to learn from many different professors all with unique backgrounds.  I have yet to have a professor I haven’t liked or learned a great deal from.  Each professor has his or her own distinct views and methods of teaching, which provides for more enjoyable class sessions.  Also, the emphasis on writing throughout this program has helped me hone my writing skills significantly.

What are your plans for the future after you complete the GMAIR program?

After completing this program, I plan on returning to the U.S. with hopes of acquiring a job with an NGO of some kind.  Throughout the program, I’ve written a few papers within the environmental policy realm so getting a job with an NGO in the environmental sector would be ideal, though I do have interests outside of this area.  Additionally, I believe working for the United Nations would be very satisfying.  While there is no doubt obtaining a job at the UN would be difficult due to the competitive nature of the organization, working with many dedicated professionals who are passionate about the work they do would be a great opportunity.

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The Global MA program is still accepting applications to join our 2015-16 cohorts. For more information, visit webster.edu/global, or contact Sarah Nandor at nandor@webster.edu.

Interview by Gracie Gralike.

A&S Bids Fond Farewell to Graduate Assistant Gracie Gralike

graciegralikeApril 13 – 17 is National Student Employment Week, and the College of Arts & Sciences is lucky to have a number of fantastic student employees whose hard work supports the College’s mission in myriad ways. In the dean’s office, we’re particularly grateful for Gracie Gralike, our marketing and communications graduate assistant since January 2014. Gracie has helped immensely in the College’s communications efforts over the past year and a half, creating posters for events, writing stories for Global Thinking, taking photos of Webster events, compiling the scholarly achievement booklet, and more — all while earning her graduate degree. She’ll get that hard-earned diploma next month, and while we’re sad to see her go, we know she’s headed toward a bright future. In her honor, we’re turning the tables on our blog and focusing behind the scenes on Gracie herself with a quick Q&A as she wraps up her time at Webster.

What graduate degree are you pursing at Webster, and why? 

I am pursuing a degree in Communications Management. I decided to pursue this degree to take my career a step further. I received my BA in Advertising and Marketing Communications at Webster and loved the experience. I always knew that I wanted to get a Masters and the program seemed to fit my needs well. I’m also hoping to be a professor eventually and I would like to pursue a Doctorate.

What’s the best thing you have gotten out of your graduate education here? 

I would say that I have learned how to do more things that I will be able to apply to my career. I have written communication plans, business plans and have done projects that will help me in the future with my job.

What role has your assistantship played in your education? 

My graduate assistantship has played a huge role in my education! When I got this job, I was so thrilled that I cried. I was able to pursue my Masters full-time and have it paid for. The job has allowed for me to focus on school and have the funding to be able to do so. I also love having a job through my graduate program because I can apply what I do at work to the classroom. A lot of the classroom discussions involve talking about work experience, so it helps that I am working in my field right now.

Do you have a favorite memory from your graduate experience at Webster? What is it? 

There are so many great experiences, it would be hard to choose one! I think I have loved going to the events on campus most. In my job, I get to take photographs of these events. I loved attending them and getting to know my fellow students/faculty.

What are you most excited about post-graduation? 

I think I am most excited about working my first full-time job. I haven’t worked full-time yet, so I am so excited to get my career started. I hope to work at a nonprofit or a university setting. This will be the first time in my life that I won’t be in school, so it will be an interesting change for me.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

I see myself working in marketing management hopefully or becoming a full-time professor.

 

Thank you, Gracie, for all your contributions to the College! We wish you the best!

Webster Signs Agreement with Lewis & Clark Community College to Expand Nursing Programming

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A Webster nursing student practices health assessment in an on-site class with BJC Healthcare.

A new agreement between Lewis and Clark Community College and Webster University will assist nursing graduates in continuing their education and obtaining their bachelor’s degrees.

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a blueprint report outlining the future, entitled The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health (FON). One major recommendation focused on nurses achieving higher levels of education through an educational system that promotes seamless academic progression. Specifically, the report recommends increasing the percentage of the registered nurse (RN) workforce with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees to 80 percent by the year 2020.

“As a result, partnerships between community colleges and universities are extremely important to assist in this demand,” said L&C Dean of Health Sciences Donna Meyer. Currently, 51 percent of the nurses in the country hold a bachelor’s degree, according to Meyer.

“Many employers are beginning to have preferential hiring practices for the BSN-educated nurse, and therefore it is imperative for L&C graduates have their opportunity to further their education in a seamless progression,” Meyer said.

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New Human Rights Scholarship

The College of Arts & Sciences is pleased to announce a new scholarship available to support students who seek to contribute to global conflict resolution with their scholarly work.

The 2015-16 Ellen Maland Scholarship will be awarded to two gifted students majoring in the College of Arts & Sciences with a specific academic interest in conflict resolution. Each award recipient will receive a scholarship in the amount of $2,000. Applicants must be of junior or senior standing for the full 2015-16 academic year, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

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Kingston

“This scholarship is a wonderful way to support students who want to learn more about conflict resolution and, in turn, international human rights,” said Lindsey Kingston, Director of the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies. “There are so many issues that need attention in the world, and that includes really critically thinking through potential solutions.”

The application form and instructions for the 750-word essay requirement are available online. Interested students should submit the completed form and their application essay to Lindsey Kingston at lkingston54@webster.edu. The deadline is April 27, 2015.

Nursing Program Awarded $100k Grant

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BSN students hard at work in class

The William Randolph Hearst Foundations’ Health Funding Priority awarded a grant of $100,000 to Webster University’s nursing program. The funds will aid in hiring two faculty members who will teach full-time while pursuing a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) or PhD in nursing. Hearst Foundations funding will provide tuition reimbursement and additional funds toward degree completion totaling up to $15,000 per year for a maximum of five years. Hearst faculty will commit to a minimum of two additional post-doctoral years, putting them at, or approaching, tenure eligibility.

“Webster University is pleased with the academic focus of this grant,” said President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “These funds will provide new nursing faculty for the University, which will further strengthen Webster’s health-related STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) programming and will help prepare nursing students to meet regional and national workforce shortages.”

Read the full story on webster.edu.

St. Louis Rising: Authors Tell New Story about Old City

stlrisingcoverThe Webster community will be the first to get their hands on St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of St. Ange de Bellerive – a new book by historians Carl J. Ekberg and Sharon Person – next month, courtesy of Le Centre Francophone. To commemorate the book’s launch, Ekberg and Person will participate in a panel discussion about the founding of St. Louis on Monday, April 13 in Webster University’s East Academic Building at 4:30pm. They will be joined the Consul Général of France, Vincent Floréani, who will provide opening remarks.

St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive sheds new light on the founding of St. Louis. The popular narrative of the city’s early days focuses on the efforts of French fur-traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau to create a settlement out of the wilderness. But Ekberg, a retired professor of history, and Person, an ESL instructor, have culled another story from their examination of new source documents. In Ekberg’s words, St. Louis “was not founded by two greenhorns from New Orleans, Laclède and Chouteau, but rather by scores of Illinois-Country residents — men, women, slaves, and children — who moved across the Mississippi during the early 1760s to find better lives for themselves in a new settlement.”

Director of Le Centre Francophone and Webster’s Jane and Bruce Robert Endowed Professor of French Lionel Cuillé believes St. Louis Rising has the potential to spark “a fascinating debate for everyone who is interested in the founding of St. Louis.”

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Kemper Award Winners Reflect on Teaching

The William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching is awarded each year to two full-time and two part-time faculty members at Webster University who demonstrate teaching at its finest. Nominated and supported by students and colleagues, they are selected by a committee of their peers for their outstanding teaching. College of Arts & Sciences professors Karla Armbruster (Department of English) and Kate Parsons (Department of Philosophy) each received the Kemper Award for 2014-15.

At the Kemper Luncheon on March 20, Armbruster and Parsons offered President Stroble, Dean Wilson, and other members of the Webster community reflections on their role as educators.

“I was moved,” Dean Wilson said afterward, “and deeply proud.”

Our award-winners’ remarks are below.

Karla Armbruster, Professor of English 

armbrusterWhen I started teaching twenty-seven years ago, like most graduate students in English, I began with freshman composition.  Composition is a skills-based class in which students learn by doing, and so my students and I analyzed examples of the types of papers they were supposed to write, workshopped their drafts, and discussed simple, specific strategies such as countering your audience’s potential objections in a persuasive essay.  There was really no place for lectures or tests.  So when I started teaching literature classes, it made me a little uncomfortable to see students taking notes as I was talking.  I had to restrain myself from saying “No, no — You need to figure things out for yourself if you want to really learn anything!” Looking back, I’m more sure than ever that I was right.  To the degree that I’ve been successful as a teacher, I owe that success to the ways I’ve found to motivate and enable my students to take responsibility for their own learn

ing — even in courses where I am very much an expert on the content.

Today, I thought I would share a few of the strategies that have helped me do this.

One thing I learned, long before the era of assessment began, was that it’s crucial to be up-front about your expectations with students.  After encountering one too many first-year students accustomed to being told what to think and mistrustful of a teacher who asked them questions instead, I realized that I could eliminate a great deal of potential misunderstanding by spending a day or two at the beginning of class on a discussion of pedagogy and the ideal roles for teachers and students.  It turns out that students actually prefer being asked to think for themselves, once they understand that’s an option, and by making this discussion part of the class, we start the semester with the students not only understanding the approach we’ll be taking but actively embracing it.

I also came to see the value of being comfortable with a little chaos.  In a true discussion, topics and suggestions come up that you’re not prepared for, and you need to be able to let go of all your careful plans in order to pursue the powerful questions and ideas that will emerge, if you’re lucky.  Every few years, I teach Toni Morrison’s masterpiece, Beloved, and when we get to one of the most important chapters, narrated in stream-of-consciousness by three different characters, I always have the class read it out loud by going around the room and having each student read a line.  Hearing the beautiful

, poetic language coming from different voices is deeply moving and profoundly different than reading the words silently to oneself, and I owe this idea to a former student who suggested it the first time I taught the class.

I have also learned to balance being realistic about what students will do with granting them some freedom.  In my Introduction to Literary Analysis seminar, I discovered the hard way that a lot of beginning English majors won’t use a reading journal regularly, even when required to do so, so I turned the journal prompts into daily homework sheets.  On the other hand, I am flexible about electronics in the classroom, simply making clear that they can be used only for class-related tasks, and I find that students often use them to engage with class material, looking things up to contribute to discussions. For example, my American literature students were discussing a poem that uses saxifrage, a flower that splits rocks, as a metaphor for poetry, and I wanted them to visualize the contrast between the delicate flower and the hard, sturdy rock.  The word picture I was painting for them ran into trouble, though, when I realized I didn’t know what color saxifrage is. But within seconds, three or four students had photos of the flower on their phones and were showing the rest of the class.  It’s white, if you were wondering.

Perhaps most importantly, I have learned that you have to take seriously the notion that students not only have something to contribute, but also something to teach you, the teacher, despite whatever expertise you bring to the field. My job is to make sure my students learn.  If I learn something from them in the process, it may seem like that’s just a bonus — a perk of the job. But when that magic moment occurs — as it did twice in my eleven o’clock class today —, and a student comes up with a truly amazing, unanticipated insight, it’s also a sign that my students are truly engaged and have taken intellectual ownership of their experience in the class. Because I get to keep learning from my students, I find that teaching is in many ways its own reward. Nevertheless, it was a tremendous honor to receive the Kemper award and join the distinguished company of the other award winners.  It’s also a wonderful affirmation that the intuition I had so many years ago — that my students should not just be writing down what I said — was on the right track.

Kate Parsons, Professor of Philosophy

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Mr. Kemper, Mr. Leadbeater, Ms. Joyner, and Ms. Hoelzer, thank you so much for your ongoing support of this most prestigious and coveted award at Webster.  I, and likely all of the faculty members in this room, feel deeply honored and humbled to be recognized, simply for getting to do a job that I love and care so much about.

I teach Philosophy, a discipline with which I have a complicated relationship.   At its heart is a mode of living and approaching the world about which I am passionate.  Philosophy requires that we take nothing for granted, that we confront even the scariest and most confounding questions about life and death, and that we gain comfort with questions—sometimes more comfort with questions than with answers.   It requires a kind of courage that I don’t always possess, but that I believe in deeply—one that I try to instill and inspire in my students.

And yet its institutionalization in a university setting sometimes swaps this courage for more conservative canonical thinking, ironically privileging safe, familiar, careful arguments over bold but fringe voices and experiences.  This tendency unsettles me and sometimes situates me on its margins, particularly in terms of my gender and my class background. The fact that the field is mostly populated by men, white people, and folks from the middle to upper classes (and that it suffers from lack of diversity more than any other field in the humanities) spurs me to ask:  whose lives, whose experiences, and questions are considered to be central to philosophy, and whose are on the margins.

In thinking about what it means to be a recipient of this prestigious award, and what it means to teach philosophy well, it dawned on me that similar questions might be appropriately aimed at my own conception of teaching.  In an effort to remain mindful of the potential trappings of my privileges as a full-time faculty member—I ask myself not merely who is recognized but also who isn’t typically recognized by an award such as this—and I would like to offer gratitude and recognition to just a few folks who whose work might also be relegated to the fringes, and yet is nevertheless critical to my teaching and to my students’ learning.

I am indebted, for instance, to: the Counseling Center staff, who help students get to my classes, despite depression, abuse, loss of family members, and a whole host of other challenges; to the Academic Resource Center staff, whose work serves as a reminder that my way of learning is not the only one, and that students learn and access resources in myriad ways; to Adjunct Faculty members, who spend immeasurable time with our students and devote themselves to the welfare of our departments, without job security, a living wage, or insurance; to the Groundskeeping and Janitorial staff, who, whether through snow removal or dust removal, work earlier and later than most of us (often under backbreaking conditions) and keep me and my students safe.  I am indebted to our Department Associates, who serve as primary contact and sounding board for our students’ daily needs and whose organizational and multi-tasking skills put mine to shame; and finally to IT folks, who connect me with my students within seconds and make it possible for me to answer midnight emails .  (Acutally, I’m not really sure I should thank you for this; I probably got more sleep before you were doing such a good job.)

These are just a few of many unnamed members of the university community who play a critical role in fostering a transformative learning experience for our students.  In accepting this award I am deeply honored to be publicly named as just one of them, and also humbled by the realization that I have not earned this alone.  For all of this, and to the Kemper foundation, I offer my sincere thanks.

A&S Senior Wins Scholarship to Israeli-American Public Affairs Conference

cultural connections biggerEach month, Global Thinking will feature a “Cultural Connections” guest post written and curated by a member of the Department of International Languages and Cultures (ILC). This month’s post profiles German major Chandler Waite.

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Chandler Waite, a senior International Relations and German double major here at Webster, recently received a scholarship to attend a large international conference in Washington DC. This scholarship was earned through UCLA’s branch of the Jewish Awareness Movement (JAM). JAM is a large Jewish student organization in Southern California that choose only 25 students to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference, of which Chandler was one. AIPAC is the largest lobbying group in the United States, supporting pro-Israeli and Israeli American collaboration. In attendance at the conference was the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of the Czech Republic, the US National Security Advisor, and the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Chandler was excited to apply for this scholarship as it aligned with both his academic and personal interests.  Chandler is the founder and president of the Tribe Jewish Student Council and an active member of the Student Government Association at Webster University.  In addition, he is pursuing an International Relations Major with a focus on Israel. He learned of this opportunity from his friend at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and applied for a scholarship to attend this conference for leaders in the Jewish Learning Experience. He applied and went through the interview process from the JAM organization located in West Hollywood. JAM had already filled the positions for the trip, however they were so impressed by Chandler’s resume, application, and interview that he was contacted regardless. He was one of the only non-Californian student to receive a spot on the trip. With the scholarships from JAM and JLE, Chandler only had to pay $50 out of pocket for the entire week-long trip which included the flight, hotel, and conference entrance fee.3

Being an International Relations major whose main focus is on Israel and the Levant, Chandler was extremely enthused about the trip. This conference gives insight into this year’s foreign policy objectives for both the United States and Israel. Through the AIPAC conference, he was able to meet all of the major Jewish community leaders of the Eastern Seaboard in Baltimore, and he met Californian senator Charles Schumer. As his goal is to work in American-Israeli foreign policy, the conference was beneficial as a catalyst for networking in this area. He is still in contact with the leaders with whom he connected on the trip. Meeting those leaders has widened his perspective on issues in the Middle East — especially that of global superpowers’ influence on it. During the conference, Chandler was able to converse with one of the writers from The New York Times and discuss the Middle East and Russia’s Involvement. The Jewish community leaders of the Eastern Seaboard were Orthodox Jews, so being able to meet with them and receive their viewpoints was a valuable learning experience for him, as although he is Jewish, he is not an Orthodox Jew.

1The AIPAC conference on American-Israeli foreign policy is only one of Chandler’s many international experiences. Chandler has gained international awareness as a foreign language and culture student and as a study abroad alum. He has done hybrid courses in Cuba and Berlin and studied abroad for a semester each in Vienna and Thailand. However, these are still just a few of his many international involvements. His interest and curiosity in both languages and politics are pronounced in the classroom. Webster University professor of German Dr. Paula Hanssen said that she did not find it surprising that he was a recipient of the JAM and JLE scholarships, as he is contagiously enthusiastic.  She says that Chandler “is constantly finding new ways to express himself, both in native language and in the languages he studies.” She is thrilled to have such a wonderfully engaged student here at Webster University.

Webster to Host Undergraduate Research Across Disciplines Conference in 2015

Students peruse research performed by their peers at Webster's 2014 Taking the Lead conference

Students peruse research performed by their peers at Webster’s 2014 Taking the Lead conference

For the last weekend in April, Webster University’s East Academic Building will be overtaken with student research presentations in biology, chemistry, and physics.

And sociology. Oh, and English. And philosophy and education, too.

rad_evite_graphicIt’s the inaugural weekend of Research Across Disciplines (RAD) — a conference showcasing research performed by undergraduate students across the region in a variety of academic fields. Born of a conference developed by a group of 5 local institutions (Fontbonne, Maryville, Missouri Baptist, Lindenwood, and Webster) that initially focused on student research in the sciences, RAD 2015 expands that initial conference’s scope by offering presentation opportunities to students who do research outside the sciences as well.

Students will present their work through posters, oral presentations, and roundtable discussions, gaining valuable experience as emerging contributors to their field.

Dr. Danielle MacCartney, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Division of Liberal Arts Programs, says that conducting and presenting research is recognized as a “high impact student practice,” meaning it’s widely considered one of the most valuable endeavors supporting student learning at the university level.

“The research process gives students the ability to grapple with challenges, to recognize a problem, and persevere through to a solution,” MacCartney explains. “It also gives students experiential understanding of the way knowledge is constructed and disseminated. And ultimately, tackling big projects can increase students’ self-confidence and provide them with more readiness to engage in future research.”

MacCartney

Opening up the conference to research from a variety of disciplines is an exciting development which, MacCartney believes, reflects the College’s spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration. The College of Arts & Sciences is home to programs ranging from anthropology to exercise science to creative writing, and many of those programs overlap with disciplines in other Schools and Colleges at Webster, such as the recently-launched MS in Science Management and Leadership/MBA; collaboration is an integral part of the College’s mission.

“We also think it’s beneficial for students to get exposed to research in other disciplines,” MacCartney adds, “because real-world problems are almost always interdisciplinary.”

When students go on to tackle — and find solutions to — those real-world problems, experience in conducting and presenting original research can come in handy. It can teach students to ask big questions and pursue answers. From an employer’s perspective, MacCartney says, those skills are key: they show the ability to solve problems in a labor market.

The community is welcome to attend the conference April 24-25, 2015 at the Webster Groves campus to see this problem-solving in action, and students are encouraged to submit their work. The online submission period ends March 18, 2015. Students only need to submit an abstract and answer a few questions about their research to apply, and they can indicate for which presentation formats they would like their research to be considered.

For more information about the event, visit webster.edu/RAD.