By Ellen Rossow
Since its establishment 125 years ago, MSUM has made a name for itself as a school of great diversity. One way MSUM celebrates this diversity is the annual Student Academic Conference, which is taking place this year on April 15.
On this day, MSUM will not be holding classes to encourage students to participate in the conference, view presentations by their fellow students and see the wide variety of knowledge MSUM’s different departments have to offer.
This year’s conference will be host to around 400 presentations from students in all departments.
With presentations ranging from “Women in Chinese Cinema” and “Cannibalism” to “Sickle Cell Anemia” and theatrical works, the conference promises something of interest for all attendees.
Junior Jacob Moe, a computer science and math double major, is excited to present “Cost Analysis of Home Car Repair” at the convention next Tuesday.
Moe got the idea for his presentation after purchasing a used car last summer. Knowing it would need some repairs, he brought it to the dealership to see how much it would cost. After hearing the total, Moe’s reply was simply, “Nope. I don’t have that kind of money right now.”
After this experience, Moe thought it would be beneficial to share with his fellow students just how much cheaper it can be to do the repairs personally.
In an entirely different area of study, international studies and sustainability sophomore Jordan Pinneke, will give a presentation on
“The Violation of Human Rights with the Privatization of Water.” Like many other presenters, Pinneke’s interest in pursuing her topic was inspired by classwork.
For Pinneke, her Introduction to Global Issues professor, Dr. Andrew Conteh, pushed her to want to present at the conference.
“He is a major advocate of human rights,” Pinneke said. “He challenged us to consider what violations were happening in the world.”
Presentation at the Student Academic Conference isn’t a new experience for Pinneke. Last year she presented the topic “The Education of Women, and its Impact on Population Growth.”
Like Pinneke, English junior Maggie Olson has experience presenting at the conference as well.
This year, Olson will present two different projects: “Stones, Streams and Strings: Imagery in Sarah Ruhl’s ‘Eurydice’” and “Jekyll and Hyde: Classic Literature Adapted for the Stage.”
Olson’s discussions of these topics are the product of her passion for literature and theatre. Her presentation on Sarah Ruhl came about after doing an independent study with Dr. David Wheeler of the theatre department last fall.
“She is one of the most powerful female voices in theatre today,” Olson said. “I love her work, and I wanted a chance to study her more in depth.”
Olson’s presentation on “Jekyll and Hyde” was born from this passion as well. Since writing and directing her own adaptation of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and presenting about it in a past Student Academic Conference, Olson has developed quite the interest in the art of theatrical adaptation.
“What fascinates me about adaptation is how the characteristics of the new genre help give a different perspective on the original work,” she said. In “Jekyll and Hyde: Classic Literature Adapted for the Stage,” Olson will be discussing a musical version and a straight play version of the Jekyll and Hyde story to “look at how the two main branches of theatre use devices specific to their genre to tell a classic story.”
Olson had the opportunity to speak with the author of the straight play, Jeffrey Hatcher, when he came to campus recently.
“I got to talk to him a bit about the art of adapting literature to the stage,” Olson said. “Adaptation is an art form in itself because, even though it uses a story thought up by someone else, it brings a new perspective.”
Moe, Pinneke and Olson all intend to benefit others by sharing their research.
For Olson, attendance at the conference is beneficial to presenters and viewers.
“To teach each other is to encourage the exchange of ideas,” Olson said. “The SAC gives us a chance to do that across all disciplines.”
“It is a good way to learn about what other students on campus are interested in,” he said. “They have taken the time to do the research. It is a good way to learn about what other students care about.”
Moe is also grateful for the opportunity to speak at the conference because it will benefit him.
“It’s a great way for me to get some public speaking experience,” he said.
For Olson, the academic conference offers a chance for students to learn in ways they can’t in a traditional classroom setting.
“The SAC is a chance to see student-researched material you might not get to see in your classrooms,” Olson said. “Learning in a classroom is one thing, but learning from your peers is more of a group experience.”