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I-Seminars ó window into future academic achievements

by Kipaya Kapiga, Web Editor

The Center for Diversity and Global Engagement has recently launched I-Seminar, a new venture to promote interdisciplinary exploration at the College. Each seminar event is structured around presentations of ongoing Independent Study work by current seniors.

The presentations are followed by a question and answer session in which attendees are able to offer their perspectives and questions.

The most recent I-Seminar took place in the dining hall of Babcock Hall on Thursday, Feb. 17† Sarah Burpee ’11 and Sarah Uschak ’11, presented their ongoing projects under the theme of “Tradition, Modernity and Drugs: The Amish, the Aymara and Quechua.

In attendance were students and faculty from various departments and programs as well as community members and parents.

Uschak, an anthropology and environmental studies major, presented an independent study that focused on the use of homeopathic medicines in Amish societies and the extent to which mainstream medical providers have begun to accommodate their tastes.

Uschak’s presentation also discussed increasing levels of comfort within the Amish community about using modern medicines.

Burpee, an International Relations major with a Political Science concentration, presented her study on the effect of United States’ “War on Drugs” foreign policy on indigenous populations in Colombia. Specifically, her study followed ethnic groups like Aymara and the Quechua for whom coca, a flower used in the production of cocaine, plays a significant cultural and religious role.

In recent decades, these populations have increasingly geared coca leaf production towards exportation as a means of poverty alleviation. This has resulted in increased dependency on drug producers and traffickers.

The idea behind the I-Seminar first emerged in response to the suggestion by a reviewer of the International Relations program that professors organize a seminar-style event for I.R. students. The Center for Diversity and Global Engagement believed that there was good reason to make that type of event open to students across all disciplines.

The College of Wooster currently has 12 interdisciplinary programs, ranging from Neuroscience to International Relations to South Asian Studies. A great deal of the motivation for the I-Seminar came from a desire to celebrate and promote the interdisciplinary learning of these programs. “The problem is that we have all these programs and we’re not thinking about them in a holistic way,” said Amyaz Moledina, co-director of the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement.

The Center hopes to expand the I-Seminar to include four events, one at the end of the fall semester and three in the spring semester.

Although its purpose is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, I-Seminar is about more than just academics. The Center has worked closely with hospitality services and Lowry to design new and creative food. According to Moledina, the Center was interested in using the I-Seminars as an innovative area where hospitality services were freer to experiment with new recipes.

The third and final I-Seminar of the semester will take place on March 3. Students interested in attending must register online through the online scheduling service Eventbrite. An announcement with a link will be sent out to all students via Wooster Headline News.

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