Faculty Present Research at First Annual Forum


Todd Balfour

Erick Gong, assistant professor of economics, discusses his research during the Fall Faculty Forum on Friday, Oct. 13.


As hundreds journeyed to campus last Friday for Fall Family Weekend, among the new arrivals was the first-annual Fall Faculty Forum. The event, held on Oct. 13 at the Axinn Center, featured presentations from 39 faculty members on a wide range of research topics.

The forum was primarily conceptualized and organized by associate professor of political science Jessica Teets, professor of film and media culture Jason Mittell and dean of faculty development & research Jim Ralph. It consisted of 12 faculty panels with topics ranging from global policy interventions to queer politics to the technologies of seeing.

“Our idea was to bring together [topics] that seemed similar enough that there would be a really good discussion,” Teets said.

Each 90-minute panel consisted of three to four faculty presentations, followed by Q&A sessions moderated by the panel’s chair. While the presentations were grouped by theme, the scope of each panel was interdisciplinary and approached its topic through multiple lenses. For example, in the Global Policy Interventions panel, topics included communities on the forest edges of western Uganda to the effects of abortion clinics shutting down in the United States. 

Interstitials between the panels included a performance by Root7, a contemporary Vermont co-ed a capella group, and an exhibit that featured five garments dating from 1870 to 1925, courtesy of the college’s antique fashion collection.

“We are trying to create more of a research community, where people are seeing the research that everyone is doing and having conversations, and maybe even collaborating on research,” Teets said.

“[The forum came out of a discussion a group of faculty had about how do we create a better culture around research,” she explained. “We all love teaching so much, we tend to talk a lot about our teaching… but we don’t talk a lot about research, and so we lose that opportunity for that kind of learning. The idea was to really create more visibility [for research].”

The project was well-received by students, faculty, and parents alike.

Joanne Meagher, parent of Sean Meagher ’20, said, “It’s so nice to get a feel for what is really going on campus—things that I wouldn’t be privy to otherwise.”

“I am an economics and political science double major, so all of these were relevant to what I study,” said Neha Sharma ’18.5, who attended the panel on Global Policy Interventions, where her professor, Erick Gong, presented research.

“I found very interesting… what Professor Gong brought up at one point: what is the point of research? Is the point of research to move society and change the world or add to a body of knowledge?” she said.

The organizers see this pilot event as the beginning of a long-term project. “This is the first time it has ever happened, but our hope is that we are piloting something that will happen every year,” Teets said. “Our idea is that in the fall the faculty will present their research and then in the spring, students present their research.”