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Scholarship celebrated

Concordia students examined the work of their peers at the Celebration of Student Scholarship Thursday and Friday. The yearly event is focused on allowing students to present their work in oral sessions, poster presentations and art exhibits.

Presentations ranged from “Emerson and the Ordinary” to “Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and ‘Star Trek’: The Use of Propaganda in the Justification of Genocide.”

“We really want to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” said Susan Larson, director of undergraduate research and head organizer of the event.

Larson focused on the importance of showcasing research in all fields of study, which she cited as a goal for this year’s Celebration of Student Scholarship. While the natural and social sciences generally dominate poster sessions, the event’s focus on other means of presentation has allowed other disciplines to put forth their work naturally. Almost every department on campus was represented this year.

Annabel Olson, junior biology major and member of the planning committee, stressed the importance of attending events outside of one’s specialty.

“It spurs different conversations on a subject that you wouldn’t typically have had,” Olson said.

The Celebration’s planning committee was dedicated to representing work across the board.

“We want to encourage a culture of research,” said Andrew Lindner, sociology professor and member of the committee.

While the committee is happy with this year’s event, they are looking for ways to make it bigger and better in the years to come.

Next year’s Celebration of Student Scholarship will be much more like the fall symposium, with presentations occurring during the day.

Faculty Senate approved that classes be suspended, and students will be expected to attend events in place of their classes.

Larson hopes that this shift will encourage participation and attendance. She cited evening obligations as a reason why some students aren’t able to come to the celebration at its current time slot.

The event has grown significantly in the last four years since its inception in 2010. The number of oral presentations has grown just in the last year from just over 30 in 2012 to 47 this year.

While many students are taking advantage of the opportunity, Lindner believes that a large number of students don’t think their work is worth showcasing.

“It’s sometimes hard to persuade students that in-class projects are worthy of presenting,” Lindner said.

Olson came to be on the planning committee through her work as a research ambassador. The shift from informing students about research opportunities to planning this event was a natural step, she said.

She said that she would not have thought about research as being a viable option in her early undergraduate years. A professor encouraged her to look into research for the summer after her freshman year, which she said she didn’t think would happen at a bigger institution.

The focus the planning committee had on the needs of the students was especially encouraging to Olson. Phillip Comella, Eliza Hartmann, Madeline Johnson, Meagan McDougall, Ryan Smith, Dawn Duncan, Susan Larson, Megan Orcholski, Shirley Sorensen, Krystle Strand, Jennifer Thomas and Graeme Wyllie were also on the planning committee.

Olson and Lindner said Concordia’s smaller size and dedication to student research on campus is different from larger institutions.

Lindner stressed that while research institutions have great research opportunities for their top students, Concordia has been focusing on bringing the educational benefits of research to as many students as possible.

“Students change from being consumers of knowledge to creators of knowledge,” Lindner said. “Research promotes the best of thinking, allows students to pursue their passions, and empowers them to take charge of their learning.”

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