Quest, the college’s annual celebration of scholarly and creative pursuits of the campus community, will return for 2021 on Wednesday, April 14, as a real-time virtual event filled with timely, topical and thoughtful presentations across many academic disciplines.

While the pandemic changed plans for Quest 2020, the 2021 edition has benefited from a full year of planning and amazing campuswide contributions, said Kristen Eichhorn, the dean of graduate studies and coordinator of Quest. 

With the college holding no daytime classes on April 14, students and other campus community members traditionally are encouraged to explore the wide range of presentations, poster presentations, performances, awards and more.

This year’s lineup features a wide-ranging menu of topics of diversity, equity and inclusion, which is both timely and a preview for the campus-wide Grand Challenge, starting in fall, on race, racism and social justice.

A “Why Representation Matters: Education in the COVID-19 Era” panel presentation at 9 a.m. by participants in the School of Education’s Teacher Opportunity Corps II program addresses two of the biggest challenges from 2020 onward. 

The panel presentation of TOC II scholars will explore how the pandemic exposed inequalities and inequities that most impacted marginalized Americans, specifically students of color from kindergarten through college level for this session. The panel of teaching students will discuss their own experiences and how students, teachers and administrators can advocate for equity, representation and culturally responsive teaching.

“This Conversation Makes Me Uncomfortable: Purposeful Approaches to Discussing Race and Identity in the Classroom” at 8 a.m. will feature faculty members Karol Cooper, Maureen Curtin and Roberta Hurtado of English and creative writing; Tiphanie Gonzalez of counseling and psychological services; and Ritu Radhakrishnan of curriculum and instruction. 

Coordinated by interns in the college’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the session examines how to engage in brave and honest dialogue to address such issues as race, identity or racial and identity slurs within the classroom setting, and how to include marginalized students in these important conversations.

Computer science student Lok Chi Hon will present "Analyzing East Asian Biases During the COVID-19 Pandemic through Word Embeddings" as part of a 9 a.m. computer science panel presentatoin. With anti-Asian violence taking recent headlines, this presentation looks into how media sources displayed implicit and explicit bias while also evolving during their coverage of the pandemic.

Presentations throughout disciplines will tackle topics related to equity in education and business. By experimenting with who appears (and doesn’t appear) in an event flyer, David Dominguez and Victoria Perez utilize psychology to draw conclusions on “Inclusivity in Higher Education,” which is part of a 3 p.m. collection of School of Business talks. Student Helena Buttons connects communication and business in exploring “Outside of the Expected: How Workplace Discrimination Effects Gender Non-Conforming People” during a set of 12:30 p.m. poster session. Biological sciences student Eileen Cacsire will measure “Racial Disparities in the STEM Field at the College Level,” among biological sciences sessions beginning at 10 a.m. 

“Seeing students from disciplines throughout our schools and programs tackling issues of race and equity has been really impressive and helps make Quest even more important toward exploring important topics and creating necessary dialogues,” Eichhorn said.

Presentations also tackle COVID-19’s psychological impacts, mental and physical well-being in challenging times, climate change and continued stress on the environment, ecology, social media, technology and much more.

Ranging alphabetically from “Acting Shakespeare Pairs Scenes” to a pair of “Writing the Past in Isolation: Historical Research during the Pandemic” sessions, and through dozens of fields of study, Quest 2021 offers something for any campus community member.

Downloading the Attendify app (available in the Apple Store or Google Play) will help audiences anywhere explore and engage with Quest activities. Attendees can use the app to find and build schedules, see more information about presentations and access Zoom links.

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