chris april 3

Student Research Symposium Moves Online; Francois Named Keynote Speaker

Erin Hickle

The twenty-second Student Research Symposium will not be postponed or cancelled: it will be held on Friday, April 24, as planned—but through Canvas, the online medium. The Symposium Committee, chaired by Dr. Katharine Ings, has been working with Justin Lunsford, instructional design specialist and Canvas administrator, to adapt the symposium to fit its new format and to provide what is still Manchester’s premier showcase for student research.

The Student Research Symposium is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students across various disciplines to share their research and offer high-quality presentations to the broad academic community. It started in 1999, when then dean Jo Young Switzer wanted to give students and faculty a platform to collaborate and present research. Although students engage in the research and write the paper or create the poster, faculty members mentor them throughout the process. This academic relationship can stimulate further discussions and inspire other students to facilitate collaborations with faculty across and within the various disciplines on campus.

This year the Symposium committee also had to facilitate a new venue—Canvas—when the university transitioned into remote learning. But they knew that they didn’t want to cancel the event. “We’re trying to think outside the box by thinking inside a box,” Ings said. “We’re moving everything to a screen.”

The plan is for Lunsford to create a Canvas course, where presenters will post videos of their presentations. Students and faculty can watch as many presentation as they like and post questions and comments in the discussion section. “We think the symposium will be adaptable because the excellent research and presentation skills of the students will still shine through the new medium,” Ings said. “The only thing we’re missing is a face-to-face live audience.”

The change in venue has not dampened the students’ enthusiasm for this event, as some 37 individual presentations are scheduled. The annual writing contest and poster contest are also moving forward, with submissions expected April 6. The Student Symposium Committee, composed of faculty from all colleges and the Fort Wayne campus, judge the papers and posters, bringing an interdisciplinary perspective.

Ings is looking forward to seeing the Canvas course with all the different presenters and presentations listed, with videos in place. “That will be a real accomplishment to see all the students and their work ready to share with the Manchester community,” she said.

As has become a tradition in recent years, the symposium will have a student keynote speaker. When submitting abstracts, students indicated their interest in auditioning for this honor, and the committee selected Chris Francois (pictured above), a senior peace studies major. Her paper is titled "Counteracting Hispaniola's Crisis: The Rebirth of Anti-Haitianismo, Nonviolent Processes, and Impacts on Stateless Populations,” and her faculty mentor is Dr. Katy Gray Brown.

Be on the lookout for the Canvas course and further emails regarding this year’s Student Research Symposium. More information will be coming soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact a faculty member from your college: Professors Katharine Ings, Gabriela Morales, David McGrady, Dennis Brown, and Andrew Rich, or Kathrine Dwyer from Academic Affairs.