Sesquicentennial Colloquium Series ‘supersizes’ campus events

The annual Graduate Showcase – GradShow, for short – is the place for Colorado State University graduate students to present their research, entrepreneurship, artistry and creativity, gaining valuable career skills and maybe winning prizes and scholarships. This year’s GradShow, set for Nov. 12, adds a new element: a keynote speaker, made possible with funding from the Provost’s Office as part of the University’s 150th anniversary celebration.

“The GradShow is a professional development opportunity, a way for students to present their work as scientists and scholars, and elevate their communication skills,” explained Mary Stromberger, dean of the CSU Graduate School. “They network, build connections with faculty and other grad students outside their discipline, and practice how they communicate their science and scholarship to broad audiences.”

That’s why the featured speaker is Melissa Marshall, a communications faculty member at Penn State and consultant perhaps best known for her popular TED Talk, “Talk Nerdy to Me.” She will discuss how to engage audience in your research at 1:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre; immediately following her talk, the Graduate Student Council will join her on stage to discuss effective science communication strategies. The lecture and discussion are free and open to the entire campus community; a livestream will be available at the GradShow website.

“We are so grateful to Provost Rick Miranda for providing the grant that allowed us to bring Melissa Marshall to campus,” Stromberger said. “It’s a great way to celebrate the 150th year of CSU’s land-grant mission, to help young scientists communicate effectively why their science is relevant and the impact it has on the region and the world.”

Sesquicentennial Colloquium Series

The idea for the Sesquicentennial Colloquium Series grew out of the process of planning the celebration of the University’s founding in 1870. While colleges, departments and units were gearing up for festive events and commemorations, Miranda said he wanted to use the opportunity to highlight CSU’s academics in a way that involved as many parts of campus as possible throughout the entire year.

“We set aside some money and then asked organizers of events that already take place to send in proposals for what they would do with an extra $10,000 for the event,” he explained. “We didn’t want to do just one event, but to help ‘supersize’ existing events and encourage people to attend what could be once-in-a-decade type of programs.”

The result: Events scheduled through the academic year are bringing in more prominent speakers and promoting them to a wider audience. In October, the Diversity Symposium featured Kimberlé Crenshaw, who filled the LSC Ballroom; this month, both the GradShow and the sold-old Water in the West Symposium, which is sponsored by the CSU System and will eventually be an annual offering at the CSU Campus at the National Western Center in Denver, used their grants to support speakers coming from out of state as well as enhanced audience engagement.

Other recipients of Sesquicentennial Colloquium grants include the Ag Innovation Summit, set for Dec. 5-6; and in the spring, the Women in Science Symposium; CURC, the Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity showcase; the new Engagement Summit; and a special guest speaker for Founders Day in February.

Miranda added that the speakers scheduled as part of the ongoing Provost’s Ethics Colloquium will also be bigger this year. Case in point: The Beyond Partisan Politics presentation on Nov. 8 features three national speakers who will discuss and model how to communicate with people on the other side of contentious issues, as well as a robust opportunity for audience members to practice what they’ve learned with each other, facilitated by the Center for Public Deliberation.

“The organizers of the events that have already taken place have come to me and said, ‘that was really helpful,’” Miranda said. “And that’s exactly what we hoped for, to make important discussions like these a meaningful part of our celebration.”