Celebration of Creative Inquiry

Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

Students discussed their research projects with event attendees.

Students discussed their research projects with event attendees.

Gustavus students regularly engage in research, but people don’t often hear much about it. This year, Gustavus set out to change that.

From physics experiments to music compositions, Gustavus’s first annual Celebration of Creative Inquiry showcased the collaborative efforts of students, faculty, and academic departments on research projects.

More than 100 students participated, and the projects conducted represented all academic departments.

The project topics varied widely. Some of the topics and their respective department were as follows:

  • “Social Networking and Internet Applications” (psychology);
  • “United States Education: The Key to Competitiveness” (economics and management);
  • “The Mexican Dream” (history);
  • “Energy Storage Systems for Peak Shaving as a Complement to Wind Power” (physics);
  • “Roundabout Mapping” (geography);
  • “The Expense of Poverty: A documentary about Socioeconomics in St. Peter, Minn.” (communication studies);
  • “A Diminished Wild?” (philosophy);
  • “The Effect of Carbohydrate and Water Intake on Heart Rate and Endurance Exercise” (health and exercise science);
  • “Intended Ripienists in Bach’s Cantatas: A Fresh Perspective” (music); and
  • “Notetaking with Hypermedia: The Whats and the Whys” (education).

These works were initiated in one of three ways: 1) as part of a class assignment or project; 2) by a student or group of students, on- or off-campus; or 3) by a faculty member, as in student-faculty collaborative research projects.

Our students engage in research projects that provoke the intellect and stimulate the learning process, which is the heart of a true liberal arts education,” said Elizabeth Jenner, co-chair of Celebration of Creative Inquiry and professor of sociology/anthropology. This demonstrates Gustavus’s commitment to the liberal arts, undergraduate research, and allowing students to expand on their ideas.

The idea of the May 2 event began during a summer workshop for 25 faculty who gathered together to decide how to increase research opportunities for Gustavus students.

Creative inquiry includes:

  • Asking a question that has not been asked before;
  • A process that attempts to fill a gap in or create new knowledge, information, or art;
  • A process or product that requires the student to add ideas or imagination of their own;
  • A project that is shaped by the student’s independent choices; and
  • A substantial component of critical reflection.

All students were invited to participate in the event, even though it occurred in close proximity to the annual Honors Day celebration. “This is not just for honors projects. It’s about the inclusion of all Gustavus students. Just because something isn’t an honors project doesn’t mean it isn’t good work,” said Jenner.

The only requirement to enter the celebration event was to submit an abstract of the project and to have a faculty sponsor. Each student’s project was showcased on a poster demonstrating their idea, research tactics, and results. Discussions of the projects took place between the student researchers and event attendees.

 

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