MU Presents 10th Research & Creativity Symposium

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Methodist University will present its 10th Annual Center for Research and Creativity (CRC) Symposium beginning April 5, 2021. The CRC Symposium showcases the academic prowess and creative brilliance of the University’s students.

The symposium’s discipline-specific presentations are the fruit of student and faculty collaborations throughout the year. The CRC’s mission statement sets as a goal “to establish educational opportunities that are collaborative and inquiry-based with the intention that every Methodist University student has access to exploratory learning across the curriculum.”

“Undergraduate work makes up the majority of the symposium, but there are also graduate and faculty opportunities to present their research and creativity across MU, so this is the signature event for us each year,” said Dr. Cameron Dodworth, an associate professor of English at MU and the symposium’s director.

Participation in these type of interactive projects with faculty improves student learning as they apply concepts introduced in the classroom with real-world application in academic areas of interest.

Typically during the symposium, all MU students are excused from their classes and are invited by their professors to attend the presentations and support their classmates. Traditionally, students consult a printed program that lists the lecture titles, times, and locations, and they cover a wide range of disciplines like Mathematics, Business, History, Psychology, Music, and Poetry, to name a few.

However, due to the pandemic this year, presentations will be staged live but only viewable via Zoom. The presentations will then be available on MU’s CRC web site. The program for this year’s symposium will be emailed campus-wide and will include the Zoom links for each presentation.

Though the presentations are through Zoom, Dodworth said that classes are still cancelled so students can focus on the Symposium.

Edona Sefa, an MU senior and Political Science major, will present her research with her senior thesis titled, “Taxing the Rich in Sweden – An Analysis on Public Opinion Data.” Sefa worked under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Ziegler, chair and professor of Political Science, and she is excited to present her work.

“I recommend the symposium to students who haven’t presented yet,” she said. “This is a great opportunity given to us, where we can present our own work. After college, presentations will be a very important part of developing ourselves as professionals, so I would encourage everyone to use this opportunity while presenting something they are passionate about.

Though research was challenging, Sefa enjoyed the process.

“Working under the supervision of Dr. Ziegler has been an honor for me,” she said. “I was able to conduct research that I had a great interest in, but with the detailed feedback that was given to me from Dr. Ziegler after every assignment I submitted, I was able to understand my research even more.”

“The entire process was challenging, but very rewarding in the end, knowing that I had contributed to the literature on taxation of the rich, among many scholars who have done their research on this topic.”

Dr. Stanley T. Wearden, president at MU, appreciates the learning experience the presentations provide students.

“Faculty research and creativity are at the heart of the academic endeavor,” he said. “Not only do these activities help to create new knowledge and new experience, but they add tremendously to teaching and learning. This work models for students the academic rigor and care involved in knowledge production, engages students in the process itself, and helps students become more critical information consumers for the rest of their lives – a vital skill in today’s environment.”

MU senior and English major Maria Choi has served as a symposium moderator before, but this year she will present two of her research projects.

“I will be presenting my Honors Senior Project ‘Sign Systems in Literature: Struggles for Power and Identity in Story,’ in which I look at how literature and stories are always combined with a struggle for identity and power, and how social myths are perpetuated through literature,” Choi said. “I will also be presenting my English Senior Thesis: ‘Out of this World: A Transformed Sense of Self through Encountering and Becoming Other in Portal Fantasy,’ which is about the relationship between Self and Other in portal fantasy and how portal fantasy can be used to subvert the binary oppositions in that relationship.”

Choi loves MU’s symposium and enjoys what she learns by attending her classmates’ presentations.

“It’s such a great opportunity to be exposed to other fields and disciplines and to see the work that fellow students are completing at MU,” she said. “I’ve heard some really interesting research and ideas that have inspired and encouraged me to look further into those topics, as well as to do my own original research.”

To aid students in their academic studies, the CRC provides grants for research, and creative supplies and equipment. The Center has seen an increase in the number of students participating in experiential learning opportunities funded by the CRC, such as travel to conferences. Since 2012, the CRC has provided more than $35,000 in grants to help students perform and share their research. For more information about the Center for Research & Creativity, go to methodist.edu/research.