Lasell’s first themed symposium Reply

By Colin Froment & Mackenzie Dineen – co-Editor-in-Chief & Features Editor

The annual Academic Connected Learning Symposium will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in de Witt Hall. It will continue to showcase various projects developed by students throughout the semester. This year, Symposium will focus on its first-ever theme: Diversity Inclusion and Intercultural Competence. It will feature interactive performances from Bronx-based theater group, Mass Transit. This year, Dean Cathy Zeek took over as Symposium Coordinator.

Mass Transit facilitated 10 focus groups in September with various members of the campus community. They gathered stories from Lasell students and have formulated three sessions, each with four theater pieces that will be roughly 20 minutes long. Students will be able to call out “freeze,” and pause the action on stage to discuss what was said and done. “It will be an opportunity for us to put ourselves into other people’s shoes and understand the ways in which we may unintentionally marginalize others,” said Professor Jesse Tauriac.

Tauriac explained that Vice President Jim Ostrow, the academic deans and associate deans reached out to him after they decided that a focus on diversity, inclusion and intercultural competence could make for a very powerful event. “I think in the aftermath of the Town Hall meetings, President Alexander and other senior leaders recognized members of our communities weren’t feeling welcome and included to the same degree and this is something that he has focused on extensively since that time,” said Tauriac.

 

Another addition since 2015 is a breakfast poster session, in addition to the main lunch poster session, due to an increased amount in posters and e-posters this semester. Both sessions will offer an assortment of refreshments and sandwiches.

Student director and senior event management major Katelyn Bellina views symposium as one of the “crucial pieces” in the institution’s philosophy on connected learning. Bellina intentionally places booths of different academic subjects close together so attendees can be educated on different topics.

“Maybe you’re hearing a math equation that may be in your science class or perhaps an art class can help with geometry homework,” Bellina said. “The whole point is that we can all learn something from each symposium

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no matter what major you are.”

 

Since the second semester of her freshman year, Bellina has been preparing for each symposium, and starts organizing as early as the end of the summer. She sends out the original request emails to all presenters and professors while making sure all academic programs have opportunities to present. Bellina also schedules the times and locations of all symposium events.

Zeek and Bellina work together to ensure the symposium is a success, along with help from Zeek’s administrative assistant Lee Means. They have communicated frequently with Patrick O’Conner in Conference Services and Jonathan Pierce in Information Technology to organize spacing and technology needs. Bellina designed the overall schedule for the day. Professor Stephen Fischer designed poster advertisements for the event.

 

Students and faculty wish they had been more prepared. “Symposium is about presenting on what you’re passionate about and proud of. As an advertising major, the campaigns I’ve created this semester do not align with the theme of Symposium–I have nothing to offer,” said senior creative advertising major Lexi Norris.

“I have always been involved with the symposium seeing it as a valuable opportunity for students to present their hard work from throughout the semester,” said Professor Erin Vicente. “This year’s theme is important. However, I wasn’t sure that I had a project that fit the theme. In my opinion, a theme may limit some of the potential submissions.”

This will be Bellina’s final symposium as she is preparing to graduate this December. “It’s really sad because I’ve made such great relationships with all the professors,” said Bellina. “And it’s sad just having those last few moments with Lasell and this is me being able to give back as much as they’ve given me.”

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