On Wednesday, April 8, Clark University’s graduate students came together to celebrate and showcase the work of 65 of their peers across ten of the University’s graduate departments and divisions.
An annual event, the Graduate Student Multidisciplinary Conference (MDC) includes oral presentations as well as a poster session. Open to all current graduate students, the event is sponsored by the Graduate Student Council (GSC), which is a student-run organization whose mission is to enhance the personal and professional lives of all graduate students at Clark.
“The MDC is the only opportunity for all graduate students to present their work to peers in other departments,” notes GSC Co-President Laura Riddering (MA in IDSC). “It is a day for the Clark graduate community to exchange ideas, research, and projects across disciplinary lines.”
Diversity and inclusiveness are two main hallmarks of the event; participants are welcomed and encouraged to present a wide-range of projects from practitioner reports, group projects, to research, or any other work that is occupying them during their time at Clark. With an incredibly diverse base of graduate programs at the University — ranging from the more traditional and highly-regarded doctoral and master’s degree programs, to a Master of Business Administration, to professional degree programs, and back around again to the many interdisciplinary and dual degree options available — the diversity in projects and presentations makes sense.
But as GSC Co-President Melissa Graham points out, diversity doesn’t equate to division. “The conference showcases the diversity in research topics and initiatives, but it also highlights the commonalities in interests and themes between departments.”
“One of the many benefits of graduate education at Clark is the opportunity to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries,” says William F. Fisher, Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Provost. “Contemporary issues which cannot be adequately understood from one or even a few different points of view benefit greatly from the types of opportunities we give our students here at Clark.”
There was so much research that this year, presentations were organized by topic area, rather than department. For example, visitors who attended the “Identity” presentations heard from graduate students in the English, Psychology, and International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) departments. Their presentations covered an analysis of contemporary narratives concerning African-Americans “passing” as white, the role of the relationship between Emerging Adults and their parents, how Emerging Adults build their spiritual and religious identity, and how students do — and don’t — build unique personal identities in a school environment.
A full list of presenters and project abstracts can be found in the 2015 Graduate Student Multidisciplinary Conference Program.
Following the oral presentations, the day concluded with a reception and the presentation of the Graduate Student Council’s Travel Awards. Another annual tradition, recipients receive financing from the GSC to help with the travel expenses associated with the research or new skill development work the student is pursuing that summer.
“This is such a wonderful way for students to support each other both academically and professionally. These awards really help students to build the experience and skills they need to be successful after they graduate — something which is important to every student, whether they are headed in to business, non-profit work, or academic research,” says Erika Paradis, staff adviser to the MDC and IDCE’s Assistant Director and Director of Student and Academic Affairs.
The Travel Awards Committee selects students based on the relevance of their research topic, the rigor of their methodological approach, and their project’s theoretical innovation. This year’s recipients are:
- Sharon Pailler, Economics
- Kaitlin Black, Psychology
- Amina Musa, IDCE
- Matthew Gibb, IDCE
- Renee Tapp, Geography
- Jewell Porter, IDCE
- Alireza Farmahini, Geography
- Julia Tran, Psychology
- Pat Barnosky, IDCE