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Liberal Arts Symposium – The Mountain Day of the Mind

Every academic Juniatian’s favorite school holiday: Liberal Arts Symposium.  LAS is an annual event in the spring where classes are cancelled and students from all disciplines show off their work to the rest of the community.  Students present on research, independent studies, class projects like speeches, stories, and art, and anything else you can dream of.  My favorite presentations tend to be passion projects where students draw inspiration from a particular class and apply it to a subject they’re interested in, or dive in deeper than they could in class.  Presentations last about 10-12 minutes and leave a few minutes for questions and discussion at the end.  You can choose to stay for the entire panel (they typically have a theme!) or you can switch rooms and go see something totally different!

This year, some of the presentations I attended included topics like queer culture in East Asia, tourism in Myanmar, verbal storytelling, feminism in political language, realism in theatre, and shark horror films. It was amazing to watch other students share their work.  I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s so cool to see what inspires the people in your community, and to really hear about their passions and interests outside of a normal class setting.  It’s a delightful reminder of why I’m here at Juniata.  I look forward to presenting my senior year, but it’s nice to be able to just watch the magic happen for now. 

My favorite presentation this year was titled “A Feminist Critique of Shirley Chisholm’s Rhetoric”, where she analyzed a speech from former presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm while looking at aspects of gender and race.  I’m a business POE, so political communication puts me way out of my element.  However, it was broken down so non-communication POEs could take away her main message.  While doing so, I learned a little about some basic communication theories and some methods of reviewing rhetoric.  In addition to Sarah’s awesome presentation, I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the art on display.

I’m no artist, so it’s always incredible to me when I see talented people making art.  There’s a vast mix of art styles and different mediums including paintings, drawings, pottery, books, animation, photography, and sculpture.  I could spend hours looking at all the beautiful pieces set up all over Von Liebig.  While I was walking around, I got to watch my friend Laura work on one of her in-progress paintings which was especially cool to see her mid-process.  Additionally, two of my friends had books they had made in our bookmaking class on display, and getting to see how their hard work paid off is awesome. 

LAS is tiring because there is just so much information you want to absorb in addition to running between buildings to catch as many presentations on your list as you can.  Nevertheless, it’s an inspiring day full of learning and quite a bit of entertainment.  Dinner the evening of LAS is for catching up with your friends to hear about the presentations you weren’t able to go to.  At the end of the day, it’s just a great break from classes to switch focus onto the Juniata community that truly makes this school what it is.

-Libby Schreffler ’21,Entrepreneurship POE