GCIC Academic Symposium 2024

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

March 22, 2024


Preserving Pluralism:

An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Abstract Submission Deadline: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 at 11:59p.m.

Pluralism means achieving co-existence when diversity abounds. Pluralism, at its best, means achieving mutual respect, understanding, equitable consensus, and ideally, a semblance of harmony.

How do we do this? Have we done this? Is pluralism real or fiction?

One of the many privileges we have in this country is access to publicly funded education. Ideally, we learn to access a high-quality education because it leads to a better understanding of living, being, and existing. It also helps us better understand how other beings live and exist as well as how certain forms of living, being, and existing become extinct or morph as time passes. A quality education extends beyond the walls of a given classroom, the dates of a semester, and the edges of certificates, diplomas, and degrees. A quality education—which includes sustained interrogation of why and how—is a lifelong pursuit that leads to better living, and better living leads to understanding why and how we must exist on Earth within our micro and macro ecosystems. A quality education yields an understanding of literal and metaphorical interconnectedness. It helps us understand that we are all interdependent and that contemporary existence renders individualism mostly a mirage and self-reliance also.

Thus, a quality education can or ought to engender pluralism. 

And yet, the road to pluralism is full of differences that can be challenging to understand, appreciate, concede, and accept.

And yet, differences are at the heart of what we perceive to be perhaps most American.

An American existence is a plural one, we like to think. An American existence is a diverse one. Pluralism is a high ideal. Pluralism is a high American ideal.

While plurality is ideal because it recognizes and champions the many ways of being and thinking that make up the complex human existence, with it comes disagreement and dissension and a need for commitment to some working approximation of agreement.

Homogeneity is easier. Sameness is easier. Assimilation is easier. Is easier better? Better for whom? And why? Is ease a birthright or a violence? Is entitlement a birthright or a violence?

The gifts of plurality are ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic, and cultural riches. But these gifts come at a cost. We must acknowledge the past, confront the present, and be conscientious about the precarious future.

We can and ought, also, to consider the wide frontiers beyond this man-made country. What can we learn about pluralism and diversity if we do?

This year’s theme, “Preserving Pluralism: An Interdisciplinary Conversation,” asks us to pause and take stock of where we are in the world right now. What have we accomplished as a people? What have we accomplished as a nation? Of what are we proud? What is undignified? Of what do we feel entitled and why?

This year’s theme asks that we interrogate one of our most American assumptions: What does it mean for us to be pluralistic? Is pluralism worth achieving and preserving? How do we preserve it? 

Here are a few questions that can help extend your thinking, but feel free to develop your own:

What can the sciences, human and behavioral sciences, the humanities, the fine arts, and the workforce tell us about how or why to preserve pluralistic diversity?

What are the benefits and challenges of scientific plurality?

What are the benefits and challenges of epistemological diversity? How do we achieve and maintain epistemological plurality?

What are the benefits and challenges of ontological diversity? How do we achieve and maintain ontological plurality?

What can art tell us about diversity? What can art tell us about plurality?
How is plurality attained and maintained?

What are the obstacles inherent in ethnical, racial, and cultural diversity? How do we achieve and maintain ethnic, racial, and cultural plurality? 

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 Professor Dalel Serda (dserda@com.edu) and/or Professor 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. 15, 2024, at midnight (11:59 pm).

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.
Important: Once you submit your abstract, we will review it and accept or reject your project by a week after the deadline. If you are accepted, we expect you to prepare a 13- to 14-minute presentation. If you prepare a visual aid, it is vital that you put it on a flashdrive and bring it with you. You will hand the flashdrive to our student helper before your scheduled session begins. We will not have the means to connect your laptop nor will there be time to search email for your visual aid. It’s important you follow the above protocol.

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 a researched conversation. 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