This journal gathers selected works presented at the 26th annual Meeting of Minds conference, which took place on May 11, 2018 on the campus of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
This lively undergraduate forum showcased the research projects of students from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the University of Michigan-Flint, and Oakland University. The projects captured here — an impressive array representing a wide range of disciplines and methods and topics — are the products of close collaboration between the students and their dedicated faculty mentors. Some projects were traditional academic ones, and some were creative presentations that are hard to capture in the pages of a journal but enriched the live conference with performance and the use of multi-media.
Over 225 participants took part in the conference as both presenters and audience members. Presentations were grouped into themed sessions combining multiple disciplinary perspectives on related topics. This was an opportunity for students to see how different disciplines define and explore problems in uniquely productive ways, and to generate some speculation and communication across disciplinary boundaries. We know this was gratifying for students, because the post-presentation comments were thoughtful and provocative, and because so many of the presenters went on to refine their project reports for publication.
Like the Meeting of Minds conference, this journal celebrates student research—from the inception of a project to the articulation of the findings for a larger audience, applying fresh rhetorical conventions and new insights gained in the aftermath of the conference. Research and creative projects carried out under the direction of a faculty member arguably represent the ideal culmination of an undergraduate education. The student not only synthesizes and displays the knowledge and skills gained over years of work in an academic field, but begins to think with her own mind and speak in her own voice, participating in the creation of new knowledge and new modes of expression. These projects mark the intellectual transition to the world of graduate study and the professions for which most of our students are bound. We thus warmly thank the faculty mentors on each campus for shepherding this process as well as the Meeting of Minds Coordinators and support staff at the participating campuses. Special thanks are due to my colleagues, Robert Stewart and Beth Dawson at Oakland University, Andre Louis at UM-Flint, as well as to Gabriella Scarlatta, Mike Lachance, and Caleb Siefert at UM-Dearborn, who managed the conference registration process, planning, and logistics.
We invite you to sample the work presented in the following pages. These papers are a window into an exciting undergraduate encounter with the rewards and demands of academic research and with the fruits of intellectual and creative inquiry. We hope you enjoy the results of our students’ efforts.
– Susan Gedert, Meeting of Minds Coordinator
College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, UM-Dearborn