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Tuesday, September 20, 2011
This March, nearly 60 CGU students presented at The Balancing Act – Theory and Practice, the 12th Annual Student Research Conference put on by the Office of Student Life and Diversity as well as the Minority Mentor Program. Though the conference has been held for more than a decade, this is the first time conference organizers are releasing an accompanying journal. The Voices of Claremont Graduate University: Student Research Journal includes 45 applied-research articles written by conference presenters.
The Voices of Claremont Graduate University is available exclusively online, and can be viewed and downloaded at the MMP website: http://www.cgu.edu/studentconference2011.
The Balancing Act’s theme was bridging academic research with real-world issues. The topic was broad enough to allow most CGU students the opportunity to present their work, which is one of the primary functions of the conference. Presenting at academic conferences is an important part of the graduate-school experience for many students: it strengthens CVs, develops academic and practice-based networks, and builds confidence and speaking skills.
“No one at CGU is just a student,” said John Erickson, co-director of The Balancing Act and a doctoral student in the School of Religion. “This conference showcases what sets you apart, which helps when applying for jobs and fellowships.”
The Student Research Conference is designed to be an environment where students are both supported and constructively challenged to sharpen their research and presenting skills. Once an applicant is accepted, they receive conference logistics and updates on CGU Writing Center workshops that support preparation. “The conference holds you accountable, but we also care,” said Erickson.
Areas represented at the conference included, among others, education, philosophy of religion, psychology, and business.
One presenter, Sami Poindexter, an Applied Women’s Studies student, presented on gender and rape on college campuses that merged research from working at the University of Redlands’ Women’s Center with feminist theory.
“Several people who had attended our panel came up to ask me questions about my work,” said Poindexter. “This was probably the best part, because I was able to spread the word about rape on college campuses as well as learn what aspects of my paper needed to be more extensively explored or explained.”
Another presenter, Samuel Woolley, leveraged skills from his visual research methods class into a 25-page paper and presentation based around the magazine Adbusters. An examination of “culture-jamming,” or subverting mainstream media messages, Woolley’s project memorably brought research theory and methodology down to the common experience of ad-viewing.
Faculty and staff were also vital to the conference’s success. Linda Perkins, associate professor in the School of Educational Studies and School of Arts and Humanities, moderated two of the 20-30 minutes Q&As that followed the 10-15 minute student presentations.
The conference will return in spring 2012. Requests for research articles and abstracts will be released during the upcoming fall semester. Erickson emphasized that the conference is for the entire CGU student body. “Everyone should apply. This is about learning. We turn down very few submissions,” he said. “Everyone who comes is there to help you hash out your work and validate what you are doing. It’s empowering. It’s affirming.”
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