Senior Symposium Prep Begins – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Senior Symposium Prep Begins

After the vast success of the inaugural Senior Symposium last spring, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is reprising the event this year on Friday, April 9.

Last year, 80 students represented the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning and Center for Global Education.  The event allowed the most passionate, accomplished and engaged members of the senior classes to present their academic and co-curricular projects to the HWS community.  From scholarly research to service-learning projects, seniors and MAT students turned their passions into a professional presentation.

“In this second annual day of presentations by HWS Seniors, we will honor the best traditions of a liberal arts education, taking academics outside the classroom, giving individual academic passions a broad audience, and exchanging ideas among diverse HWS communities,” says Susan Pliner, associate dean for teaching, learning, and assessment.

Senior Symposium

Like last year, seniors will have the opportunity to work with staff and faculty in preparation for the symposium to complement their projects with expert oral presenting techniques, visual aid creation and innovative public speaking.  These skills-used in every professional and academic field-are beneficial to all members of the Classes of 2010.  The unique experience will provide seniors with skills and recognition that cannot be gained in the classroom.

Oliver Meeker ’09, who delivered a talk titled “One Viet Nam – Post War Memories and Future Aspirations,” says, “It was a fabulous opportunity to present a body of work, still being actively improved, to a group of engaged students and professors and then having a healthy discussion about how it can be improved.  The opportunity to practice public speaking in a formal environment and trying to convey complex ideas to a group of people is priceless in preparing for that first pitch or presentation to your boss or investors in the next few months.”  Meeker is now on a Fulbright Research Grant in Vietnam.

Assistant Professor of English Rob Carson, who moderated a Senior Symposium panel last spring, says, “Last year was my first year of teaching at HWS, and I spent much of the year getting a sense of what the students here were like.  The Senior Symposium for me was the day where everything came into focus.  I taught a first year Introduction to Literature class in the morning where my students were really struggling to get a handle on some foundational ideas, and then I went to the Senior Symposium where I heard a half dozen papers that would have easily held their own in a graduate school seminar.  The contrast between the struggling first years and the confident and accomplished seniors made me realize just how far students travel in their four years at HWS, and reminded me of what I needed to do to help them along this path.”

Senior Symposium

As with many other initiatives sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Senior Symposium will promote a love of learning and encourage student engagement, Pliner says.  “We hope all HWS students will be inspired by this symposium. All seniors in all majors are invited to participate in this showcase of our best student work; faculty and staff are invited to seek out and encourage students, and to join the CTL in its efforts to further prepare our seniors for the world beyond HWS.”

To be a presenter at this event, submit a 250 – 300 word abstract of the work to be presented, and fill out a brief application on the Senior Symposium Web site by Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010.   (Note: A faculty sponsor must sign the application, along with the abstract, and an electronic version and hard copy needs to be submitted to CTL.)

For more information contact Ruth Shields at the Center for Teaching and Learning at shields@hws.edu phone at ext. 3959, or stop by her office on the second floor of the Library.