YPSILANTI – All that student research and creative activity. The faculty mentorship. And all the learning, for those who perform and present projects and the crowds who view them during a day of discovery and excitement in the Eastern Michigan University Student Center.
Amy Bearinger, coordinator of the annual Undergraduate Symposium at Eastern Michigan, wasn’t about to let all that good work disappear, despite the cancelation of the symposium last month amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
You can now view a new project a day on the symposium’s three social media channels, a process Bearinger began Friday, March 27, the day the 40th annual symposium was to be held.
“The amount of work that goes into these academic and creative projects is immense,” Bearinger says. “The Symposium has been a culminating academic experience for students for the past 40 years, and we wanted to be certain they had a platform to advocate for themselves.”
Within just one week of Bearinger sending out a link to a Google form, 45 students have indicated an interest in having their projects displayed. The current goal is to continue the highlights through April and the end of the winter semester.
The projects posted thus far hint at the remarkable range of topics on display each year. They include how the legacy of Jackie Robinson spurred major decisions in Major League Baseball, the use of Mock Shop software in setting up a virtual store, a new way to approach teaching students on the Autism spectrum and how human bias interferes with being a good learner.
You simply click on the project and there you are, immersed in its questions, research and conclusions.
EMU senior Lindsey Redmond, who researched the Jackie Robinson project, says she found considerable value in presenting her project via social media.
“Despite the cancellation of such an extraordinary annual event on campus, I feel so fortunate that I was still able to showcase my year-long project through various social media platforms,” Redmond said. “Sharing my research project in this way has only illustrated how much EMU values and respects student work. I have been supported at every step throughout this entire process and as a senior, I will leave EMU proud of the work I’ve completed and shared during these difficult times.”
Bearinger also plans to receive some video presentations and is continuing to reach out to participating students to extend the process.
“We’ve always thought the best way for people to truly value the Symposium is to attend it,” Bearinger said. “This virtual approach is providing a taste of that engaging experience and is also giving all students at EMU an opportunity to learn about what their peers are studying.”
The on-campus event was to feature oral speaking presentations, a poster exhibition, and the Crossing Lines Design Expo. This year, 352 students, under the mentorship of 203 faculty mentors, created more than 330 unique projects.
The first annual Undergraduate Symposium at Eastern was held in April in 1981. It had been envisioned by former Provost Ronald W. Collins, and that first event occurred under the leadership of professor Ira M. Wheatley, department head of History and Philosophy.
Seventeen students and 19 faculty members from nine College of Arts and Sciences departments were featured in the inaugural event. In the early 1990s, all other University colleges began nominating students for participation. In 2012, the Crossing Lines Design Expo was added to support creative projects that were interdisciplinary and visual in nature.
As of 2020, more than 8500 students have presented at the Symposium.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.