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Symposium showcases Experiential Learning

By Suzy Schatz
On March 27, 2012

  • Students examine posters detailing Experiential Learning projects at Thursday’s symposium. Joshua Linton

 

On Thursday, 23 majors were represented in the fourth annual Experiential Learning Symposium.  The symposium took place in the Levin Ballroom and had panel speeches and a poster viewing of different EL programs.  
 
According to the booklet distributed at the symposium, "EL is the process, facilitated by faculty and staff, through which students develop knowledge and insights from the practice of skills, from direct experiences, and from reflection, both in and outside of the classroom.  The process of learning by doing enables students to engage directly with issues, including those related to social justice."  With over 300 EL courses at Brandeis, these programs are available to students in most fields of study. 
 
The symposium began with an introductory speech by Provost Steve Goldstein '78.  Goldstein said his EL experience took him to South Asia with Save the Children, where he learned how the organization was teaching literate South Asians to examine and treat their sick children in an effort to save lives. In describing this, he said that "experiential learning transforms us, it transforms the communities that we're in, it teaches us things, ... so I think this program is incredible."
 
The symposium then continued with a panel of speakers hosted by Student Union President Herbie Rosen '12. The panel members, who were both students and faculty, spoke about the Experiential Learning programs in which they are involved. 
 
Prof. Bruce Goode (BIOL) and Jessica Pullen '13 were the first to elaborate on their involvements in EL. The students in Goode's EL program perform research with funding from the National Health Institute.  Goode said that he pairs undergrad and graduate students to form research teams he believes will work well together in the lab.  He noted that this pairing provides the students with a unique and mutual learning experience. Pullen praised her time in the Goode Lab, stating that it has given her the "opportunity for true personal growth that [she is] not sure [she] would have found otherwise." She and her research partner are currently researching "the inner workings of cells on a molecular level and how cell architecture is determined."
 
The next to speak were Prof. Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow (CLAS) and Benjamin Federlin '14. They spoke about their internship program, called Classical Studies Artifact Research Collection. The program aims to teach students to manage a collection of artifacts, and ultimately to make a museum quality exhibit which will be displayed in the mezzanine of the Goldfarb Library.  This year, the program focuses on ancient Roman glass artifacts.  Federlin brought out an example of such glass work, a small vile, to show the crowd, and nearly dropped it but humorously brushed off the precariousness of the incident. 
 
The final pair to speak was Prof. Laura Goldin (AMST) and Samuel Porter '14. Goldin energetically described the Environmental Health and Justice semester, part of the Justice Brandeis Semester program. This semester-long, multidisciplinary program focuses on environmental justice and community engagement. Students in this program participated in various community projects from Massachusetts to Kentucky, working to reduce toxic exposures in the domestic and professional spheres. 
 
Following the panel, there was a poster display by students involved in other experiential learning programs. The symposium concluded with a sushi and ice cream reception and music from DJ Marcos.   
 
Leia Ruseva '15, who attended the symposium, commented, "It's really great to know how you can pair up with a professor and you can develop that relationship and how those relationship[s] can actually translate to the real world and how what you learn in the classroom can be applied."

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