Connecticut College to hold first All-College Symposium Thursday

New London — Walt Disney's influence on the way we conceptualize childhood. The use of therapeutic movement for treating Parkinson's disease. Causes and effects of food insecurity. The design of psychotherapy waiting rooms. Conservation of wildlife in Costa Rica.

These are the topics on which five Connecticut College students will be presenting Thursday, when a total of 160 students partake in Conn's first-ever All-College Symposium.

There will be presentations – in the form of talks, poster sessions, performances, screenings and exhibitions – across campus from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dean of the College Jefferson Singer said the target audience is the Connecticut College community and particularly underclassmen, but the college wouldn't turn away members of the outside community who want to come.

The inaugural event corresponds with the first time that seniors have been engaging with the Connections curriculum — an interdisciplinary program of courses, off-campus experiences and more — for all four years at Connecticut College.

Students have the option of joining one of 13 pathways, such as Data, Information, and Society; Media, Rhetoric, and Communication; Social Justice and Sustainability; Public Health; and Creativity.

Singer said that every student who participates in a pathway is expected to have an off-campus experience that connects with their question, and that students have connected with the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, local health clinics and municipal governments.

Libby Friedman, assistant dean of the college for Connections, said the 160 students participating in the symposium represents 40 percent of the senior class, but that next year, it'll be 60 percent.

She noted that when students join a pathway, they're grouped with students from different majors and faculty from different departments. Friedman gave some more examples of student research, saying one student is talking about her experience traveling as a minority in other countries and another is talking about the refugee economy in Jordan.

Ken Colombe completed internships with the Indiana Pacers and the Connecticut Sun, and he is presenting on how teams develop rosters.

After Lexi Rauth started in the Cities and Schools pathway, she initially considered looking at the health benefits of being in and around water, tying her scientific side — she's a behavioral neuroscience major — with her passion for swimming.

But she grew more interested in higher education, partly through a summer internship in the Office of Student Involvement at Villanova University in Philadelphia, and her goal now is to go to graduate school and then work in student affairs.

So, she reshaped her question to one about how higher education institutions can use their resources to engage college students with elementary, middle and high school students in the local community.

Rauth brought Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School students onto campus for swimming lessons, similar to the Learn to Skate program that senior Cam Segal launched and will be presenting about on Thursday.

History major Juliet Levesque's participation in the Global Capitalism pathway led her to the question, "Is it possible to escape the colonial gaze in representing histories of indigenous peoples?" Specifically, she noted that how museums approach knowledge and teaching may be incompatible with indigenous approaches.

She created the question with Native Americans in mind, but after studying at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand last year, she shifted her focus to New Zealand's Maori people.

e.moser@theday.com

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