COLA Conference welcomes research from Marshall students

Two days. Approximately 95 student presenters. And a total of 101 panel presentations.

These are the numbers for Marshall University’s 19th annual College of Liberal Arts Research and Creativity Conference, an experience that allows students to present work in a variety of subject areas in a professional conference setting, said Robert Bookwalter, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“The College of Liberal Arts Research and Creativity Conference is an opportunity for students in all of our majors to showcase the great work they have done in their disciplines,” Bookwalter said. “The creativity, analytical reasoning and communication skills they show is impressive.”

Students will represent all of COLA’s departments, including communication studies, English, geography, history, humanities (classics, philosophy and religious studies), modern languages (French, Japanese and Spanish), political science, psychology and sociology/anthropology, during the conference Thursday and Friday in Drinko Library, Bookwalter said. 

All of the presentations for the conference were reviewed and selected by a COLA Research and Creativity Conference Committee made up of COLA staff members, Bookwalter said. 

Each department had one faculty member serving on the committee who reviewed work that students submitted for the conference, said Zelideth Rivas, chair for this year’s COLA Research and Creativity Conference Committee.

“For the most part, what we’re looking for is students who know how to research well in the field that their abstract is in and that it is being well-supervised by another professor,” Rivas said.

Each student who will present during the conference has a mentor who is a faculty member in their department, Bookwalter said. 

Rivas said she thinks the conference is “super important” because students get a chance to share their findings and talk to each other, when oftentimes they just sit in the library by themselves and send emails or upload to MU Online and sometimes do not even talk to their classmates about what they are doing. 

“It gets boring, to tell you the truth,” Rivas said. “It gets exhausting. Writing can be exhausting, but when you pair writing with presentation and you give students the opportunity to share, new ideas emerge. And it’s from those new ideas and that passion for learning that is shared amongst panelists, amongst other presenters, that the possibility for future research is possible.”  

Bookwalter said he is impressed by students’ projects and their poise. He said he always learns something new from presentations, and students also have the opportunity to learn from each other and to “join the community of scholars in their fields” through the conference.

“Students develop expertise in their disciplines during the course of their degree studies. Higher education promises to develop the critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills of students – that is why employers find Liberal Arts graduates appealing,” Bookwalter said. “This conference allows students to demonstrate their mastery of research and/or scholarly practices in their disciplines, and provides an opportunity to communicate their ideas to a professional audience.”

The COLA Research and Creativity Conference will run from 9:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Bookwalter said. All panels will be held in Drinko rooms 138, 349 and 402, and program information will be available in the Drinko Library Atrium during the conference, he said. The event will also be open to the public.

“Anyone can come in and listen to any of the lectures,” Rivas said. “The reason we do this is because we are a public institution, and we are committed to sharing our scholarships publicly. In other words, we don’t want students to just learn by themselves in a room with other students. We want them to learn and learn how to communicate that knowledge to other people in the public.”

Jesten Richardson can be contacted at [email protected]