Lexington, Virginia • February 8, 2011
Preparations are in full swing as the Washington and Lee University community prepares for the fourth Science, Society, and the Arts (SSA) research conference to be held Friday, March 4, across the W&L campus.
SSA, held for the first time in November 2004, is a campus-wide academic conference in which students, faculty and staff participate in colloquia and academic presentations with the goal of highlighting the academic life of the campus community.
Owen Collins, associate professor and head of the department of theater and chair of the SSA committee, says that SSA epitomizes what higher education is all about: a life of the mind and its multitude of creative expression.
"It's a great chance for students to show the work they have done to the rest of the campus and to present scholarly work in a more formal setting, one that is similar to academic conferences," said Collins. "This is excellent for our students interested in further academic study.
"I enjoy seeing the students in my theater classes talk about the work in their other majors and minors. W&L professors usually see just one side of those students in their own classes; this is the faculty's chance to learn about the other interests and passions of their students."
There will be 21 different colloquia in which students, faculty, and staff will discuss a common reading. The readings range from Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited" to "Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture" by Thomas Chatterton Williams to "The Lost Books of the Odyssey" by Zachary Mason.
Almost 250 students will participate in the conference, and almost 150 different projects - oral presentations of research papers, poster sessions, creative work and the colloquia organized around readings - will be held.
Maya Iyengar, a senior from Midlothian, Va., and a member of the student-faculty committee planning SSA, says that the conference provides students with a chance to share their successes with their peers and professors. "It's also a unique opportunity in which students have a structured forum to present their work without the pressures involved in presenting at a national conference.
"As a biochemistry major with a music minor, I highly value the liberal arts education that W&L allows me, and I feel that SSA further emphasizes this. I'm truly excited to see what my friends and classmates have to present, whether it's in the sciences, the arts or the humanities."
Ann V. Klotz, who spent 20 years as an educator and administrator at The Chapin School in New York City, will deliver the keynote for the conference. Klotz served as head of the drama department, coordinator of the fine arts department and teacher of upper school English. A graduate of Yale, she obtained her master of arts degree from New York University, where she majored in the individual study of drama.
Klotz is currently head of Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio - a school that fosters confidence, creativity, critical thinking and compassion in its students. In 1984, Klotz established the Ensemble Theatre Community (ETC) School, a summer program for high schools student that uses theater methods to teach them about life and living in the world as a fully engaged, concerned citizen.
In addition to Collins and Iyengar, members of the Science, Society, and the Arts Committee are Edward Adams, associate professor of English; Bill Hamilton, associate professor of biology; Peter Jetton, director of law school communications; Dan Kramer, assistant professor of German; Fred LaRiviere, assistant professor of chemistry; Dan Mazilu, assistant professor of physics; Molly Michelmore, assistant professor of history; senior Alex Shabo from Hingham, Mass.; and Julie Woodzicka, associate professor of psychology.