GCIC Academic Symposium 2023

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

March 31, 2023


Transforming, Reframing, and Embracing Contradictions

Abstract Submission Deadline: Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 at 11:59p.m.

Humans are complex. We are complicated mobile ecosystems riddled with internal and external battles, competitions, and incongruities. Yet, we like simplicity for its ease and sense of conviction.

We tell ourselves we seek, want, and need comfort, habits, consistency, and the sleekness of the concrete and symmetrical. Unwittingly, though, we are attracted to fissures, shadows, and the underbelly of what we know to be good, just, and better.

We want to know but shy away from knowledge. Knowledge is power, but power is also burdensome and requires levels of decisiveness that feel, too much and too often, like insurmountable work.

We want to live on Earth and protect it but spend most of our time—ignorantly or consciously— destroying it.

But it is not only individual humans who live in contradiction. As a society and at the macro level, as a world, humans instigate far-reaching paradoxes.

We want equality, we say, but not if it means radical inconvenience to our economies or social structures.

We say we live for the future but act as if there is no future coming. We are kind and cruel. We are wise and idiotic. We are thoughtful as much as thoughtless. We love as often as we hate.

Or some of us do. Or maybe it is not you, it is them. Or maybe it is you, and it is them.

We can publicly commit to what we empirically measure while simultaneously abiding by myths that control our wants, needs, and actions.

Contradictions saturate human existence: there is a misalignment in what we say and do and what we think. We can want to be or do one thing yet be or do another.

Here are a few questions that can serve as examples, but feel free to develop your own:

  • Does art imitate life or life imitate art?
  • What does it mean to want equality for all humans?
  • What does it mean to be a settler? A colonizer? An immigrant? A local? A native? Indigenous?
  • What is the relationship between religion and humans? Between science and humans? Between religion and science?
  • What does it mean to know? Is feeling knowing? Is seeing knowing? Is experiencing knowing? Is believing knowing?
  • Is everything quantifiable? Is everything qualifiable? Is one way of knowing more reliable than another?
  • Can children be wise? Are adults wise? What is wisdom?
  • What does it mean to live a good life? What does it mean to live well?
  • What is merit? What is luck? What is privilege?

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

Student Presentation Examples

View on YouTube


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

How to Start

We invite you to contact Professors Dalel Serda (dserda@com.edu) and/or Gwendolynn Barbee-Yow (gbarbee@com.edu) if you want elaboration on possibilities. Please submit 150 to 300-word abstracts through our abstract submission link by Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 at midnight (11:59pm). 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 abstract submissions to two per person. 
Additional note: Work to offer your audience an argument and support it with evidence. Ideally, your work—whatever the subject—is contextualized in your research. Bring something new to an existing discussion or area.

Watch video below for more detailed information about the GCIC Academic Symposium

Please contact us with questions or comments.

Dalel Serda
Associate Professor of English
GCIC Academic Symposium Co-Chair

Gwendolynn Barbee-Yow
GCIC Academic Symposium Co-Chair