From epics in Western Culture to social psychology, students covered wide-ranging topics recently during the Fall 2017 Student Research Symposium. Throughout the week prior to Thanksgiving Break, Settle Hall was busier than usual as students presented their research findings in oral presentations and on academic posters in the Board Room and the Chairman's Room.
What makes the Epic of Gilgamesh an epic? Students in Dr. Michael Utzinger's Western Culture 101 class, a longtime component of Hampden-Sydney College's core curriculum, examined Gilgamesh, the Iliad, and the Aeneid, investigating whether or not they meet the definition of epic found in certain academic articles. They presented their findings on academic posters and defended their findings against a barrage of questions from Dr. Utzinger.
Dr. Utzinger says, "The goal was to teach students the importance of group work, oral rhetorical skills and developing confidence to question expert opinion by exploring the evidence themselves."
Students in Dr. Claire Deal's Public Speaking class analyzed a trio of TED Talks, while students in Dr. Viktoria Basham's Freshman Seminar discussed effective forms of propaganda at work in our society.
Dr. Ivo Gyrovski '09 had his students analyze examples of social psychology at work in public policy. He says, "My most rewarding undergraduate experiences were rooted in my interactions with faculty such as Professor Thornton in Economics and Professor Vitale in Psychology who introduced me to the process of research. I highly valued their enthusiasm for mentoring students. My goal in advising student-led research is to enable students to emerge as well-rounded scientists who are able to think critically, develop nuanced understanding of psychological phenomena, effectively engage in intellectual discourse, and apply their skills to their surrounding environment."
The conclusion of the Fall Research Symposium was marked by Dr. Sarah Hardy's English Capstone students and the launch of their online magazine Stone Cap. Her students investigated how certain short stories were influenced by the magazines in which they were published, such as Emily Dickinson's "Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church" in The Round Table. They presented their findings in their own online magazine.
"The Office of Undergraduate Research intends to organize a student research symposium each semester as a showcase for the wide diversity of inquiry-based work conducted by Hampden-Sydney students as a part of their education," says the Office's Director, Dr. Michael Wolyniak. He says the work of this kind is needed by all students to be competitive in a rapidly evolving job market.