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Student research symposium to showcase UA history

Photo+courtesy+of+Martha+Few
Photo courtesy of Martha Few

Throwback Thursday will take on a whole new meaning this week when the UA Main Library hosts a student research symposium on the history of the university.

This Thursday, eight students will present the research they’ve been working on all semester for their History 498 capstone seminar, titled “A Visual History of the University of Arizona.” As a capstone for history majors, the theme of the course was open to change. The history of the UA was chosen to be the theme in 2009 by Martha Few, a UA history professor, and Veronica Reyes-Escudero, associate librarian with the UA.

While the overarching subject of the projects will be the UA, students’ individual research covers a wide range of topics, according to Kevin Gosner, associate professor and head of the Department of History.

“One of the cool things about the symposium is the diversity of topics they talk about,” Gosner said. “In the past, topics ranged from women’s athletics to sororities, World War I on the UA campus, [the] experience of veterans — all kinds of things.”

Nancy Jimenez, a senior studying history and Mexican-American studies, said her project focuses on discrimination and the civil rights movement at the UA between 1950-1969. Jimenez said she and the other members of the class had a difficult time picking topics because of the limited amount of information available to them.

“You don’t really know what you’re going to find in Special Collections,” Jimenez said, “so even though the topic sounded good at the time, once you started researching you realized that it really wasn’t going to work out.”

Gosner said the symposium presentations, which showcase the university within the community, have become especially relevant in light of UA President Anne Weaver Hart’s focus on community engagement.

The symposium is currently in its third year. The purpose of the project is to give students an opportunity to work with primary source research, as well as present their findings to a wider community, Reyes-Escudero said.

Students have created posters for the symposium and prepared talks about the work they’ve done.

Reyes-Escudero said the goal of the theme was to engage students on a deeper level.

Each student in the class had to write a 20-25 page paper on the topic of their choice, then condense the material for a five minute presentation, Jimenez said. Jimenez said she is looking forward to presenting her findings, despite some nerves.

“I don’t really like talking in front of people,” Jimenez said, “but on the other hand, it’s still exciting for a history major to be able to show your historic findings.”

Gosner said the symposium reflects a partnership between the History Department and the Main Library, as well as the intersection of history with other disciplines on campus.

The symposium will give students a stronger sense of place and understanding of the university, he added.

“In history, we sometimes assume we know something about the past, and then when we look at it, [it] turns out to be something different,” Gosner said. “[The symposium] gives a stronger sense of how the university has evolved over time.”

What: 2013 Student Research Symposium: “A Visual History of the University of Arizona”

Where: UA Main Library, Special Collections

When: Thursday, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.

– Follow Jazmine Foster-Hall @Jazz_Foster

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