College students often wonder how their chosen areas of study will affect their future.

The third annual Humanities Student Symposium, to be held April 7-9, will highlight student research and help students understand how the humanities can offer a wealth of life and career choices.

“The symposium is meant to inspire students in the humanities, to convey to them the value of their research and writing,” said Shuchi Kapila, director of Grinnell’s Center for the Humanities.

Scott Samuelson ’95, associate professor of philosophy at Kirkwood Community College, will give the keynote address at 7:30 p.m. April 7 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. His speech is titled, “Of Plato and Plumbers: Why We Should All Value the Humanities."

“I argue that we should all care about the humanities, and the liberal arts more broadly, because we should want to be a nation of free people,” Samuelson says. “The humanities are, once again, in an embattled state. There's a lot to lament, but I hope to inspire people that a fight for what matters can bring out the best of our commitments.”

Students who attend Grinnell will find many opportunities to develop their research and participate in symposia.

The Humanities Student Symposium features academic essays, art, music, creative writing and critical essays in the humanities broadly defined, Kapila says. Professors moderate panels, which are grouped together by topic.

“It’s meant to showcase our best student work,” Kapila says.

Students submit eight-page papers and work with professionals in the Writing Lab to refine their papers and improve their presentation skills.

“It’s great to see the practice and the final product,” says Janet Carl, director of academic support for writing and speaking.

Samuelson, the keynote speaker, will discuss his upcoming book, The Deepest Human Life, and his experiences teaching philosophy to a wide array of students, including plumbers, nurses, Sudanese refugees, and former inmates.

“My experience as a student at Grinnell was full of intellectual adventure and personal discovery, and it's exciting to be part of that adventure again,” he says. “But I also feel abashed. When you're a student, you're a worm spinning a chrysalis, and everybody, including you, has a set of expectations about what kind of butterfly or moth you'll become. So I feel a little nervous about flying back in as whatever I've turned into.”

The event is open to the public.

Complete Event Schedule

Monday, April 7

Noon, Bucksbaum Room 152
"Creative Writing" Alex Bazis, Sam Dunnington, Dylan Fisher
7:30 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 101
Keynote Speaker: Scott Samuelson ’95 “Of Plumbers and Plato: Why We Should All Value the Humanities”

Tuesday, April 8

Noon, Rosenfield Center Room 101
"Power, People, Borders" Callie Hopkins, Lucy Marcus, Jenny Mith
4:15 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 101
"The Erotic Gaze" Sophie Donlon, Teodora Kljaic, Hannah Safter
7:30 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 101
"Genre Unbound” Courtney Hemker, Chris Gallo, James Marlow, Grace Tipps

Wednesday, April 9

Noon, Rosenfield Center Room 101
"Reimagining the Past: New Directions in the Humanities" Madeline Cloud, Hayes Gardner, Eric Mistry, Elizabeth Sawka
4:15 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 101
"Translating Identities" Samanea Karrfalt, Andrea Nemecek, Eleanor Price
5:45 p.m., Rosenfield Center Room 101
"Just Follow the Directions" Ana Novak, Dance Ensemble

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