GCIC Academic Symposium 2020

Open to area high school (dual credit), college and university students!

March 27 2020


Mining Unknowns

Abstract Submission Deadline: Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 at midnight

We live in uncertain times. Yet, we have a propensity to feel with unease the prevailing uncertainty of our times whatever our times may be.

And though it seems there’s much evidence to suggest that we do live in precarious times, in dangerous times, there is overwhelming evidence that these are also exciting times; we are perhaps too at the inception of a more caring, thoughtful, inclusive world.

We know what we have always known: the past leaves its indelible teeth on our present; our human footprint is too deep, too wide, too permanent; that which eludes us cycles back eventually. The long-term good takes more effort, more cunning, more compassion; that which is nearer can be sexy with ease, urgency fosters action, and action can be good or the opposite, explosive.

So how do we proceed? How do we—the students, members, and leaders in our community—move forward? We suggest we must pause to take in the landscape, to plot our path, to have a plan, to analyze ramifications, to arm ourselves with heft, might, thought, and heart.

We conclude this: We must be brave. We must move forward in earnest. We must prevail above fear, above bravado, above ignorance, above greed. We must unite as a community to mine the unknown, to invest in the present with feet concretely in the image of a better future.

Questions to get you started, but it’s even better to develop your own:

  • What has history shown us happens when we explore the unknown?
  • What does it mean to “mine” the unknown?
  • How is the unknown worth “mining”?
  • What comes from resisting fear? What comes from fostering curiosity?
  • What happens when we look to science?
  • What happens when we realize that what we thought we didn’t know is just another version of that which we do?

Narrower questions to get your thinking started:

  • What can AI technology do and not do for us?
  • What happens as more of the world becomes more educated and richer, and demands more goods?
  • How do we feed the world’s growing middle class?
  • What is the energy of the future?
  • How do we limit our human footprint?
  • What can social media do for political action?
  • Is social media activism when the work is solely online?
  • What difference can art make?

This year’s theme is broad and lends itself to cross-disciplinary examination, which is the driving force of our academic symposium.


Our intention is to enable students and their supporters to think more deeply than we’re able in the classroom while sharing in formal and less formal networking opportunities.

How to Start

We invite you to contact Professor Dalel Serda (dserda@com.edu) and/or Dr. Shinya Wakao (swakao@com.edu) if you want elaboration on possibilities. Please submit 150 to 300-word abstracts through our abstract submission link by Friday, February 28, 2020, at midnight. Please follow the abstract protocols and conventions of the subject/discipline (i.e., STEM, humanities, fine arts, social science) you select. For specifics, please ask a professor who may serve as an advisor or mentor for your project, or contact us directly. This event is free and open to the public.

Note: You do not need an advisor or mentor to submit an abstract for a project presentation. You may work alone as an independent scholar. This event is free and open to area high school, community college, and university students. Please limit your submissions to two per person.

Additional note: Work to offer your audience an argument and support with evidence. Ideally, your work—whatever the subject—is contextualized in research. Bring something new to an existing discussion or area.

Please contact us with questions or comments.

Dalel Serda
Associate Professor of English
GCIC Academic Symposium Chair

Dr. Shinya Wakao