Photo by Jordan St. Peter

Students share knowledge at Festival of Scholars

By Gelsey Plaza /// Senior Staff Writer

The halls and rooms of the academic buildings and Stamm buzzed with energy and excitement, as students, staff, and faculty gathered to engage in a variety of events.  On April 15, Lewis and Clark held its third annual Festival of Scholars (FOS).  Class was cancelled for this school and community-wide, all-day event. Students prepared presentations, discussions, poster displays, musical and theater performances and science experiments to showcase research and projects they have been working on all year or semester.  There were three sessions throughout the day, one in the morning and two in the afternoon, each with various panels and exhibits from the different academic departments.  

Art history professor Matthew Johnston, who was a part of the Festival Coordinating Committee, was pleased with the large number of students who contributed and attended the Festival.  

“In the sessions I went to, I was also impressed by the overall enthusiastic mood that prevailed,” Johnston said.  “I saw some really great work and I felt that it was taken seriously by the audience.”  

A change from last year was having lunch outside of Howard.  According to Johnston, it was a nice break for both presenters and attendees to come together outside.  However, as with last year, it was hard to have enough rooms of an adequate size to fit people.  

“A lot of the talks I went to were standing-room-only, sometimes too much so,” Johnston said.  “[However,] I thought the quality of the work was excellent pretty much across the board, but personally I have a soft spot for natural history displays and I found that exhibit fascinating.  [But] I regret that I did not find out what kale spray is.”  

Beija Flor ’18, another member of the Festival Coordinating Committee, said that the event overall was better advertised.  The food trucks were also a great improvement from last year, for they were a big hit among students.  However, she also acknowledged the lack of space in some classrooms.  

“Some rooms were so crowded that audience members had to stand, sit on the floor, or stand outside the classroom due to its fullness,” Flor said. “This is both an issue and a blessing; presenters are thankful that so many people want to hear about what they have to say.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of classroom space, not everyone who wanted to attend could.”

Presenter Makayla Keydel ’16, whose presentation was titled Is Math Real?  The Indispensability of Mathematics under the Morality and Reality Panel, said that she found presenting very gratifying.  

“It was fun to share my project and get people excited,” Keydel said.  “Presenting papers anywhere is a great opportunity to really solidify and refine the topic, so it was really helpful to me.  And it’s a huge honor.”  

According to Lydia Bleifuss ’16, the Festival of Scholars was an excellent event.  It was a great experience to engage with friends’ academic work and to share your ideas with someone while not worrying about him or her grading you.  This year, Bleifuss presented her thesis, which was a rewarding and exciting experience.  

“Creating and articulating my poster allowed me to realize which ideas about my topic have become the most prominent and solidified in my mind, regardless of the paper itself,” Bleifuss said.  “Specifically, I’ve been analyzing various strategies hydropower resistance movements have used/are using in Chile, and how effective they are in light of the country’s larger political, economic, and social contexts. I was there in January conducting interviews. It was an incredible trip and it is crazy to look back on now. I’ve never put so much work into a single project, and it was nice to see my thesis and my fellow [Environmental Studies] seniors’ various capstones/projects coming together at the festival.”  

Presenter Madelyn McMullen ’16, whose presentation was titled Dollarization: The Switch from the Sucre to the U.S. Dollar in Ecuador under the Economics and Power Panel, also really enjoyed talking about her thesis and sharing her findings.  

The concept of dollarization is a very interesting topic that I feel does not receive enough attention in the international community,” McMullen said.  “I feel like FOS was also a great chance to present my thesis to a broader audience.  It made me really think about how I could clearly show what I had found to an audience that wasn’t my thesis class who knows the process almost too well.”  

Attendee Sarah Moen ’19 thought the FOS was a great experience for everyone who participated, whether they were a senior presenting their thesis or a freshman experiencing the festival for the first time.  

“Personally, walking into Stamm’s morning session felt like walking into a candy shop full of knowledge,” Moen said.  “Even if I was not particularly interested in the topic, the presenters were able to make their research easy to understand and allowed me to retain the knowledge with the brief summaries of their projects.  Overall, I am looking forward to seeing the hard work that LC’s graduating class of 2017 is going to do [next year].”

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