University of Redlands

University of Redlands Political Science Professor thwarts pandemic and embraces technology to honor student work

“Students worked so hard to prepare for this event and to see their work dissolve under these uncontrollable circumstances would have been too disappointing. We decided to turn the lemons we were given into lemonade,” says Political Science Professor Renee Van Vechten
9-Apr-2020 10:05 AM EDT, by University of Redlands

Newswise — When University of Redlands Professor Renée Van Vechten offered to coordinate the second annual Western regional Pi Sigma Alpha conference, she had no inkling she would have to do so in the midst of a pandemic.

But, with this year’s conference scheduled for March 20, the possibility of an in-person event began to wane as university campuses began to close and students began to attend class online. Instead of canceling or rescheduling the event, Van Vechten and U of R’s Pi Sigma Alpha students decided to host the conference virtually.

“We had to press ahead,” says Van Vechten. “Students worked so hard to prepare for this event and to see their work dissolve under these uncontrollable circumstances would have been too disappointing. We decided to turn the lemons we were given into lemonade.”

Founded in 1920, Pi Sigma Alpha is a political science honors society with over 700 chapters on college campuses nationwide—the University of Redlands chapter has 20 members. Designed to facilitate research and encourage students to engage in discussions about political science, the organization hosts an annual national conference where students present their work, network with members of other chapters, and develop their skills and resumes.

To help make the experience of attending a professional conference more accessible, Pi Sigma Alpha Director Sean Twombly established regional conferences to supplement the national gathering. In 2019, the first Pi Sigma Alpha Western regional conference was held at California State University, San Bernardino.

In the days leading up to the 2020 event, Van Vechten collaborated with U of R Jones Computer Lab Supervisor Iyan Sandri '08, '15, '22 to ensure that students would be able to display and discuss PowerPoint presentations on WebEx, a video conferencing platform.

“For some of the student participants, this was the first time they presented a paper at a conference,” Sandri says. “At this time of stress and upheaval, it’s important to maintain options and opportunities for students. Because this event proceeded virtually, these students are able to add something to their resumes.”

During the event, which spanned just over three hours, five students from five different campuses presented on a variety of topics and three panel discussions were held. Throughout, Erik Dain ’14, the event’s discussant, offered constructive and collaborative feedback to students who submitted research materials.

Edison Forman ’21, who presented on the War on Terror, says that receiving feedback from faculty members, staff, and fellow students was a highlight. “I know a lot of people put a lot of work into [planning and preparing for the event], so it was good to be able to hold it in some form,” he says. “Being able to get feedback on our work was really helpful for those who want to present research at other events in the future.”

Kendall Billings, a student from California Baptist University, originally thought she wouldn’t be able to attend the virtual conference because she was embarking on a 16-hour drive back to her hometown after moving out of her residence hall. But Billings stopped at a Starbucks on her way, logged into the conference, and delivered her presentation about Mexican immigration.

While Van Vechten feels that virtual communication isn’t ideal, hosting the conference online gave participants the chance to learn a new set of skills by adopting online tools.

“This set a good precedent and shows that other conferences can be held this way,” she says. “The ability to be agile and flexible and accommodate unexpected circumstances is a valuable skill. This gives us a chance to exercise that ability and to stretch ourselves. We don’t have to stop our lives—we can meet challenges and overcome them.”

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 2776
Newswise:Video Embedded protocol-needed-to-monitor-covid-19-disease-course
Released: 3-Aug-2020 9:05 PM EDT
Protocol needed to monitor COVID-19 disease course
University of Washington School of Medicine and UW Medicine

Patients with underlying conditions such as asthma or other lung problems should be checked on regularly by pulmonologists or primary-care doctors for at least six months. Some will need to be monitored for one to three years, according to a new opinion piece posted online today in The Lancet-Respiratory Medicine.

Newswise: UM Cardiology Researchers Studying How COVID-19 Affects the Heart
Released: 3-Aug-2020 3:10 PM EDT
UM Cardiology Researchers Studying How COVID-19 Affects the Heart
University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

COVID-19 is shown to impact the heart and, in some cases, have long-lasting cardiac effects. To discover the extent to which COVID-19 affects the heart, cardiologists and researchers with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have begun multiple studies.

Newswise: Tackling the Bioethics Challenges Raised by COVID-19
Released: 3-Aug-2020 3:05 PM EDT
Tackling the Bioethics Challenges Raised by COVID-19
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The diverse situations experienced by health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic often present serious ethical challenges. From the allocation of resources and triage protocols to health-care worker and patient rights and the management of clinical trials, new ethical questions have come to the forefront of today’s global public health emergency.

Newswise: 239156_web.jpg
Released: 3-Aug-2020 2:50 PM EDT
New species of fungus sticking out of beetles named after the COVID-19 quarantine
Pensoft Publishers

A major comprehensive study on Herpomycetales and Laboulbeniales, two orders of unique ectoparasitic fungi associated with insects and other arthropods (class Laboulbeniomycetes) in Belgium and the Netherlands was published in the open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly journal MycoKeys.

Released: 3-Aug-2020 1:30 PM EDT
Consumer Behavior Has Shifted Significantly During Pandemic, Survey Reveals
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an increase in telework and online commerce, and a significant decrease in the number of personal trips people are making. Understanding the effects of these rapid changes on the economy, supply chains, and the environment will be essential, as some of these behaviors will continue even after the pandemic has ended. Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently presented the results of two sets of surveys they conducted in an effort to quantify and understand these unprecedented shifts.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 5-Aug-2020 12:05 AM EDT Released to reporters: 3-Aug-2020 12:25 PM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 5-Aug-2020 12:05 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

31-Jul-2020 4:05 PM EDT
The effects of COVID-19 on emergency visits, hospitalizations
Mayo Clinic

COVID-19 swept into the U.S., hospitals across the country have reported that their emergency departments are emptying out. In a new study published Monday, Aug. 3, in JAMA Internal Medicine, a team of researchers from multiple institutions provides insights into this phenomenon.

Newswise: Important Dementia Studies Continuing at UK Despite Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
Released: 3-Aug-2020 10:20 AM EDT
Important Dementia Studies Continuing at UK Despite Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
University of Kentucky

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many things to a screeching halt and continues to impact our daily lives. However, important research at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) is continuing under extreme caution and deep dedication. A monumental study in the field of dementia research is set to get underway in the coming weeks at UK.

Showing results

110 of 2776