GCIC Academic Symposium 2022

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

APRIL 1 2022



Abstract Submission Deadline: Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 at midnight

Big and small changes in our life require we adapt. We do it all the time, so usually, we do not consider adaptation a big deal.


Recently, though, adaptation has been a question of survival. While COVID-19 has common denominators with other coronaviruses and while COVID-19 wasn’t the world’s first pandemic, it has presented us with an array of entirely new challenges we had not seen in our lifetime. And because globalization brought us closer than ever to everyone else on Earth, for some of us, COVID-19’s challenges exceeded health-risks. Our world’s interconnected systems on which we have been dependent halted while new ones emerged and flourished.


In 1859, Charles Darwin’s research re-defined adaptation down to the granular level. It also challenged the Western world’s understanding of existence; his work argued existence’s “purpose” is survival and reproduction. Darwin’s research showed adaptation helps preserve species. Along with his work, the then emerging sciences of paleontology and geology, and the critical examination of religious texts caused existential crises for Westerners of the late 19th century which means people were forced to reconsider what their life’s purpose was.


Of course, we know now that it is not merely humans who work to survive and exist.  All living organisms are in this race. Even non-living ideas are in it. Dreamed up, man-made ones like education, justice, human rights, beauty, quality, and marriage, etc. with no “real” biological life to them are also in a race to adapt, survive, and exist.  


Change, our modern world no longer suggested in 2020. Change, it demanded. Change now, it shouted. And so, the question: how did we do?


At this point, we are coming out of the pandemic, and if we reflect and bring what knowledge we gained to the way we do business henceforth, we can gain new wisdom.


So did we reimagine adaptation? Did we broaden or reconfigure its meaning at all? Did we make it work for us? Did we adapt well? Did we adapt ethically? If adaptation prizes survival, what happens when our adaptation is short-sighted, insular, egotistical, ethnocentric, sexist, racist, prejudiced, misogynistic, ageist, classist, and/or privileged? What happens when it is just, equitable, and/or revolutionary?


Adaptation is not something that only happens to us or happens to the future version of us. We can will the shapeshift on a timeline we designate. These are micro and macro choices at our disposal.

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

  • What does literature teach us about human adaptation and survival?
  • What can art help us see that life doesn’t?
  • How has art adapted and survived?
  • What can science do for us as we adapt?
  • How do we adapt to emerging challenges?
  • How is adaptation imagined by others?
  • What do governing bodies have to do with our personal choices?

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 25, 2022, 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