19 students present at Harrison Symposium

Anne Aaker

This weekend, the 11th annual Richard A. Harrison Symposium had professors, students and parents mingling in Main Hall.
Richard Harrison was dean of the faculty and a history professor at Lawrence from 1992-1997. He was also one of the founders of what was then called the Student Humanities and Social Sciences Symposium. After his death in 1997, the name was changed to honor his role in creating the annual event.
The symposium is a chance for students nominated by faculty to present long-term projects — usually honors projects — to the rest of the campus community. Students are nominated based on the excellent work they have done for an independent study, class or tutorial.
Because of the selective nature of the symposium, the work presented there is some of the best work completed that year at Lawrence.
Each year, a symposium winner is selected from the group. In 2007, Natasha Quesnell-Theno received the award, which remains to be bestowed for 2008.
This year, 19 students took part in the symposium on Saturday, May 17, talking about subjects in the humanities and social sciences that ranged from cybercrime to Latin American artists to opera.
In fact, part of the attraction to the Harrison Symposium is the diversity of topics that are presented. Associate Professor of English Faith Barrett, who moderated presentations and advised a small handful of students’ projects, agreed. “The variety of papers really makes the event,” she said. “[The best thing about the Harrison] is seeing so many different kinds of projects done by so many talented students.”
The array of information presented in the symposium also attracts audiences that have a genuine interest in particular subjects, which energized the students.
“[I most appreciated] knowing that everyone in attendance had a genuine interest in the topic being presented,” said senior presenter Erin Dix.
“When you put so much effort into a specialized project, it is gratifying to see that other people are [interested enough in your topic] to attend a Saturday morning presentation voluntarily,” she added.
Each presentation lasted about 20 minutes and included a short question-and-answer session at the end. Often, it is the Q and A part of the presentation that really shows the student’s knowledge of her subject.
“[One of the most rewarding moments for me is] seeing students you’ve worked with all year long do a really knock-out job answering questions on their feet after presenting,” Barrett said.
The student presenters also felt that the overall experience was rewarding. Senior Caitlin Gallogly said, “It felt great! I mean, it was terrifying, but it was really nice, and sort of sad too. It signifies the end of research, and for more of us, the end of our careers at Lawrence.”
Still, the Harrison Symposium is a successful way to end a college career — and all of this year’s participants should be proud to leave such a mark.