On Friday, March 15, the 21st Annual Academic Symposium took place in the Goshen College Harold and Wilma Good Library. Both students and faculty participated in this event which aims to provide a professional development opportunity that acknowledges the research and creative works from all disciplines.


The Academic Symposium began at 10 a.m. with a session to recognize faculty on recent their  promotions and published works. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 23 Goshen College students and three faculty members presented their original research and projects.


Presenters were given 15 minute time slots to present their work and answer questions from the audience. The presentations were given over four different sessions and represented more than 10 different disciplines.


In previous years, presenting at the Academic Symposium was only reserved to students. As the new program director, Fritz Hartman made several changes to the event. One of which allowed faculty to present their own research.


Jo-Ann Brant, a former director of the symposium and current faculty member, presented her theological research titled “Aversion as a Rhetorical Strategy in the Acts of Thomas and Buddhist Tradition,” in which she talked about the teachings of Thomas in India and the influence of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.


Brant also talked about a “global Christianity” that had travelled along the Silk Road which eventually gave us a “window into the differences.”


Brant has worked with the symposium from the very beginning. This year, she wanted to show her support and solidarity to the event.


“It was fun presenting because people were so unfamiliar with the material I am working with,” said Brant. “I enjoyed telling them there’s this interesting topic out there and I hope to have more occasions to introduce people to a body of literature that they don’t know about.”


Madeline Smith Kauffman, a social work student, presented her research on “Indirect Trauma and its Intersection with Social Work Practice.” Kauffman talked about practice issues that arise in her field and other helping professions when practitioners are negatively affected by indirect trauma and heavy caseloads.


She ended her presentation by suggesting to the audience the need for more research that would acknowledge the importance and magnitude of the problem.


Kauffman was excited to give a presentation at a more professional level and to be able to share the work she has done with her peers and professors.


“I thought that I would not regret something like this — getting a practice presentation in and talking in front of people about the work I’d done,” said Kauffman. “I thought it would be a good experience and that’s why I decided to do it.”


Kauffman also recognized the importance of sharing knowledge that is relevant to her and others in her discipline with people outside the classroom, as well as learning how to be confident with her research.


Among the audience members was Sondra Flores-Reyes, a junior, who found the presentations to be interesting and informative.  


“I enjoyed the event. I would have loved to see a longer symposium since the topics seemed to have a lot of background but this short one was interesting too,” said Flores. “I would like to think that the presenters could meet new people who could help them further their research. After all, they all talked about interesting or important things.”


The Academic Symposium gave presenting students and faculty members the opportunity and space to engage in scholarly conversations with an audience that was supportive. Brant recognized the importance of the event and the impact it can have beyond just being an event for people to share their research.


“I think it helps us have a sense of ourselves as a learning community because it helps us appreciate what we’re doing, and gives us a little peek into all sorts of corners on campus that we don’t get to see,” said Brant.