The start of the spring semester is a time when many Bucknell students are preparing to study abroad, but this spring, another group was just returning. During the break between the fall and spring semesters, Julia Carita '20, Amy Collins '18, Holly Sentowski '18 and Julia Stevens '20 shared insights from Bucknell's collaborative approach to education at the sixth International Conference on Information and Education Technology in Osaka, Japan, with faculty mentor Professor David Del Testa, history.
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The conference, held Jan. 6-8, offered the students an opportunity to showcase their various interdisciplinary and international projects before an international academic audience. Including presenters from Mexico, Bhutan, China and other nations, the conference was truly an international stage.
The students' presence at the conference exemplified the concept they came to share: the Bucknell Method. This approach to education, which promotes student-faculty-staff collaboration, is the foundation on which the University's collaborative research projects are built. But many of the conference attendees found it an alien concept, since they came from countries where student interaction with faculty is limited, and undergraduate research is uncommon.
With the Bucknell Method as an overarching theme, the each of the Bucknell students discussed the individual research projects they worked on as examples of what can be accomplished when undergraduates are encouraged to participate in learning opportunities beyond the classroom.
Carita and Stevens are researching two different perspectives of the same project, Bucknellians in World War I. Carita is focusing her study on two ambulance units that were made up almost entirely of Bucknellians, while Stevens is exploring the history of Katherine Baker, Bucknell Institute Class of 1892, who was a battlefield nurse in France. Both students discussed the impact of the Presidential Fellows Program on their undergraduate experience, as this fellowship is what initially connected them with Del Testa.
Collins' topic was also related to the Bucknellians in World War I project, although she took a more scientific approach. According to Collins, "My research on Pennsylvania-funded World War I memorials along France's Western Front has led me to discover a relationship between postwar commemoration and environmental mitigation of lands poisoned and degraded by warfare." Collins, a history and political science major, tested water samples from areas where battle was fierce to determine how great the environmental impact of World War I is today, nearly 100 years later. | Read more about Collins' project.
Sentowski, a creative writing and history major, presented on the methodology of teaching with geographic information systems (GIS), outlined challenges related to teaching GIS and offered suggestions for making the technology more accessible. Sentowski spent summer 2017 helping Del Testa reshape his own GIS class, and her version of the class is currently being offered.
The team of presenters has also been invited by Bina Nusantara University to give a presentation in Jakarta, Indonesia, where they would be able to spread the concept of the Bucknell Method even further. Through exposure to the Bucknell students and faculty, students from around the world will have access to Bucknell's research methods.