Festival of Scholars gives students a new opportunity to share work with community

Lewis and Clark College, Festival of Scholars

By Babette Hofacre /// Staff Writer 

Step aside Friday classes; a festival is upon us.

Last year Lewis & Clark held its first Festival of Scholars on a Saturday with voluntary attendance. This year, on Friday, April 17, classes will be canceled, which will make attendance mandatory. Many students don’t know what the festival is about or why class needs to be canceled.

Mellon Foundation grant monies support this event and on the Festival Steering Committee are Dean Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell, Chemistry Professor Julio de Paula, Associate Professor of Art Cara Tomlinson, and Associate Professor of Political Science Todd Lochner, Brooke Jordy (Political Science ’15), and Brennan Workman (Political Sciene ’16).

The Festival is a way for students to display their research to all classes and not just their department.

Alum Maya Gold (’14), who presented last year on political science, said, “Independent research is the logical culmination of a liberal arts education, so it’s something we as a campus should be more aware of and enthusiastic about.”

Students from any year can present if they sign up or are recommended to do so by a professor. Since the event was held on a Saturday last year, attendance was low, so now it is being included in the curriculum.

“The first year is always slow, but we are hoping in ten years this will be a big event,” de Paula said.

Some professors will tell students which lectures to attend and students are encouraged to see ones that interest them. L&C is not adding another day to the school year because the Festival of Scholars replaces the accreditation hours of one academic day.

“Some faculty had some concerns on missing out on an instructional time in their discipline, but ultimately when the vote was take the majority of the faculty voted in favor of the Festival of Scholars with a three year commitment,” Detweiler-Bedell said. “In the third year we will reassess. We left it to the discretion of the individual faculty members to decide what they would do to create accountability.”

When asked about the required attendance Gold said. “Requiring students to go seems a bit heavy-handed, but I think someone’s heart is in the right place. Also, I imagine a high level of attendance will make the event feel more like an actual conference, which is pretty cool.”

Professors and administration are hoping to make Festival of Scholars a staple for the L&C community.

“We are hoping for a new tradition that everyone will love,” de Paula said.

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