Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

The making of Symposium Day

Wednesday, Jan. 17, Augustana students had the luxury of not having any classes, as well as many opportunities to attend different sessions for winter term’s Symposium Day.
The theme for this term was “Privilege.” According to Provost Gail Summers, this Symposium Day means “achieving greater acceptance comes from increasing understanding of each other.”
This term’s Symposium Day featured four keynote speakers: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Kyle Holder, Zina Ellis, and Dr. William Ming Liu. There were also many more sessions led by either faculty or students. Junior Lydia Lara, majoring in Spanish and Classics, put together and hosted a session about the current state of Puerto Rico. “As I began my planning for Symposium day, I thought of the needs of the campus and lack of awareness on certain issues. I wanted to bring a program that would benefit the campus and open discussion to issues that are not normally talked about,” Lara said.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Ratcliff-Crain, an Associate Dean in the Academic Affairs Office, each Symposium Day has a certain theme. That theme is decided upon by a committee of three faculty with expertise in the particular topic for that Symposium.“The themes are sufficiently broad that people from any discipline or viewpoint could put together a presentation idea,” Ratcliff-Crain said.
In addition to faculty, there are student representatives who are appointed by the Student Government Association(SGA), the Multicultural Programing Board, the Office of Student Life(OSL), and two students appointed by the SGA as at-large representatives. The Fall term Symposium theme always connects to the Augie Reads book for that school year while the Winter Symposium reinforces the themes connected to Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. Finally, the Spring term Symposium Day is always a “Celebration of Learning,” the student/faculty/staff research, and creative scholarship day.
In about two years, Augustana will be converting to a semester system instead of the current trimester system. When this happens “The plan is to maintain Symposium Days much as they are,” Summer said. However, according to Ratcliff-Cain, “It would not work to hold an event of the same size and scope during J-Term like we currently hold during Winter.” This means that the Fall and Spring term will remain the same way, but the J-term Symposium might be different.
With the coming change to semesters the administration and faculty want to keep the Symposium Day tradition alive. “One key aspect of a liberal arts education is to make the most of learning in and outside the classroom. An organized day such as Symposium Day provides the perfect opportunity for extended learning,” Summer said.
From a student’s point of view, Lara said that Symposium Day is important because “[It] is a main resource and aid for attendees to learn and become aware of ideas that they would normally not be exposed to in the classroom. It is a day to intentionally step out of our usual modes of learning and be exposed to new ideas.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Augustana Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The making of Symposium Day