Washington and Lee University’s Science, Society, and the Arts (SSA) Conference created a grand return to an in-individual format this year for the initially time due to the fact 2019. The two-day occasion, held on March 17 and 18, showcased original study from undergraduate and law students. With events held at Lewis Hall and Leyburn Library, the conference was a campus-wide affair that gave students the likelihood to share their operate with members of the W&L neighborhood and make each academic and private connections.
“SSA went extremely effectively this year, and all of the project presentations, poster sessions and colloquia had been exceptionally effectively-received as becoming exciting and informative,” mentioned Chris Dobbins, conference chair and associate professor of music. “The power from possessing the conference carried out in individual once more was palpable, and I assume that contributed to the higher engagement of presenters and attendees.”
SSA is a hallmark of the rigorous, inventive and interdisciplinary operate that is vital to a W&L education. Participating in an internal study consortium like SSA offers each undergraduate and law students the special chance to navigate the study course of action initially-hand, collaborate with faculty, and present their findings to their peers and mentors in a qualified setting. Students can discover a wide variety of interests, and the subjects at this year’s conference integrated literature, history, poverty research, neuroscience, agriculture, economics, and the history and culture of W&L.
“SSA offers the chance to not only present your tough operate from all through the year, but also appreciate others’ study operate,” mentioned Louisa Bynum ’24, a neuroscience big who presented a poster on the interaction amongst sleep and interoception as predictors of anxiousness and depression. “I have engaged in each the scientific and literary arts elements of SSA, and permitting a location for science and the arts to come with each other offers a platform for a higher exchange of tips that may not otherwise be intermixed.”
SSA facilitates critical conversations about students’ interests and encourages academic engagement outdoors of the classroom.
“SSA offers each and every participant the chance to understand what their fellow students are studying and discover diverse subjects outdoors of their field,” mentioned Brad Singer ’24, a politics big who presented on the 19th-century debates surrounding the expansion of slavery into the western United States. “SSA serves as the culmination of the liberal arts practical experience. Every single project presented expected an interdisciplinary, collaborative work amongst students, peers and advisers.”
The conference is also a single of the couple of possibilities open to each undergraduate and law students at W&L, which Leeden Rukstalis ’23L believes tends to make it such an enriching practical experience.
“The SSA Conference is amongst W&L’s most special traditions,” she mentioned. “It provides students an great chance to present their study, inventive projects and revolutionary tips to a diverse and qualified audience.”
This year’s conference kicked off with the annual Lara D. Glass Symposium hosted by the Washington and Lee Law Assessment on March 17. This year’s subject focused on how law really should adapt to establishing technologies, specifically blockchain technologies, and panelists integrated a diverse group of market leaders, present and former regulators, and legal scholars.
On March 18, events started with a panel presentation titled “Interning and Volunteering in Lexington: The Significance of Neighborhood Engagement and Service Mastering,” featuring Ellie Penner ‘23, Kamryn Godsey ‘23, Lawson Brantley ‘24, Allie Stankewich ‘23 and Katie Yurechko ‘24. All the panelists are actively involved in the Lexington-Rockbridge neighborhood via a previous or present internship or volunteer chance. Moderated by Natalie Spangler ‘23 and Emily Brookfield ‘23, the panel discussion focused on the value of off-campus student engagement and neighborhood outreach. The panelists emphasized the energy — and the duty — W&L students have to make a distinction in the Lexington-Rockbridge neighborhood and encouraged their peers to use campus sources to discover meaningful possibilities for neighborhood outreach.
SSA aids facilitate critical conversations about W&L’s history and function in the Lexington neighborhood and is also a special forum for students to get initially-hand practical experience with the study course of action. Jake Winston ’24 and Adele Roulston ’24 carried out original study on the altering landscape of W&L’s campus neighborhood and focused on private experiences to inform the history of W&L. Each students discovered the study course of action rewarding for the reason that of the chance to interview and connect with W&L alumni about their experiences at the university.
“The highlight of my project was acquiring the likelihood to interview some of the girls who arrived at Washington and Lee in 1985, the initially year the university started admitting girls as undergraduate students,” mentioned Roulston, an anthropology big who presented on the history of coeducation at W&L.
“I discovered a lot more and a lot more that the previous is only written by these who have the indicates,” mentioned Winston, a history big who presented on the university’s Jewish history. “All of this W&L history was silent and unearthed just before I was provided the chance to discover it.”
Participating in SSA offers students the likelihood to dive deeper into subjects they’re passionate about outdoors the classroom setting. Natalia Micheli ’23L specifically appreciates how the conference serves as “a good stepping stone” for these anxious about presenting their operate, but also highlights “the student body’s enormous achievements in academics.” At SSA, students are encouraged to go outdoors their comfort zones and share their interests with the campus neighborhood.
“SSA is an great chance for students to take their private academic interests and discover recognition for their pursuits outdoors of their classes,” John Coffron ’23L mentioned. “By delivering an avenue for students to share their study in a qualified setting, W&L offers us a lot more incentive and pride in our great scholarship.”
Julienne de Vastey ’23 utilized SSA as an chance to combine her interests in ecology and public well being to present the poster, “Climate Alter and Infectious Illness.” De Vastey, a biology big and environmental research minor, chosen this subject for the reason that of its environmental justice implications and discovered a lot not only about the subject, but about her personal capabilities as a researcher.
“I assume the study period truly taught me resilience, specifically when I hit a wall in the project or lost faith in my skills,” she mentioned. “College is meant to prepare you to resolve issues and enact alter, and SSA pushes students to get started that operate now by providing us the chance to create projects on subjects we care about.”
Pursuing your passions and functioning to make a distinction in the planet was also the concentrate of this year’s keynote presentation, delivered by Irish musician and activist Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich. He utilized his personal family’s deep roots in Kerry, Ireland to talk about how art and music are embedded in a place’s history and organic atmosphere, and he focused on the function of conventional music to sustain neighborhood and express deep feelings like trauma, hope and perseverance.
Beaglaoich highlighted his personal activism, especially his use of art and music to draw focus to the depopulation occurring in rural and Gaeltacht (Gaelic-speaking) locations in Ireland for the reason that of new preparing laws, which are threatening the sustainability of conventional culture by producing it practically not possible for young Irish men and women to make on neighborhood Gaeltacht land exactly where their households have lived for generations. His address was interwoven with performances of conventional Gaelic music, permitting the audience to practical experience the emotional energy of the music and the function it plays in preserving Gaelic culture.
A testament to the energy of men and women to enact alter and leave their mark on the planet, Beaglaoich’s presentation was an inspiring conclusion to a weekend complete of purposeful academic engagement. W&L’s SSA Conference offers a special forum for students to engage in original study and share it with their peers and mentors, and the occasion is indicative of the distinct and customized education the university provides. The study presented at SSA speaks to the critical conversations W&L students initiate about the planet about them, and the revolutionary operate they will continue to pursue following graduation.
Discover a lot more about SSA 2023 and discover a complete schedule and description of events right here.