Harrison Symposium highlights student research projects

Beth McHenry

Months of research, dedication, and hard work culminated on Saturday for 15 students at the Richard A. Harrison Symposium in Main Hall. The annual symposium showcases student research and achievement in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Lawrence.Richard A. Harrison became dean of faculty and professor of history at Lawrence in 1992 and established the First Annual Student Humanities and Social Sciences Symposium in 1996. After Harrison’s death in December of 1997, the first Richard A. Harrison Symposium was held in spring of 1998. Lawrence also offers a grant for student research in honor of Harrison, the Richard A. Harrison Award. The annual award supports student research projects leading to presentations at the symposium.

Students are nominated to present at the symposium by faculty who are impressed by their work in seminars, independent studies, or tutorials in the humanities and social sciences as well as some music disciplines, such as music history and theory. Nominated students submit papers to Gerald Seaman, dean of faculty. Seaman selects approximately 15-30 students to present their research and organizes the panels around these projects.

This year’s symposium kicked off at 9 a.m. with a welcome from President Rik Warch and featured five panels divided into two sessions on Saturday morning. Every panel consisted of three 20-minute student presentations, each followed by a question-and-answer session. A faculty moderator presided over each panel. The morning finished with a luncheon at Lucinda’s.

Panels featured presentations with titles as varied as “Myth in Ovid’s Exile,” “African American Candidates and Electoral Institutions,” and “Literature and Life in the Bolshevik Revolution.” In spite of the early schedule, presentations were both fascinating and comprehensible, appealing to a number of interests.

Despite a number of other events on campus on Saturday, Seaman was pleased with the turnout at this year’s Harrison Symposium. Although this year’s symposium had fewer presenters than last year, Seaman noticed a significant increase in interest in the event. A panel presented completely in Spanish, a first in Harrison Symposium history, attracted an especially large crowd.

Seaman emphasized the importance of the symposium and encouraged everyone on campus, from freshman to faculty, to consider being a part of the Harrison Symposium in the future: “It illustrates what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. It’s about the collaboration between students and faculty on a research project, something we value very highly here.” Look for the opportunity to apply for the Richard A. Harrison Award in March of 2004.