Through Whitworth Student Symposium, students are able to share their ideas and experiences in an attempt to engage and enlighten their peers. Sponsored by the philosophy department, the organization’s mission is to “develop and foster intellectual culture at Whitworth.” “My goal in starting this lecture series was to get Whitworth students to engage with ideas in a meaningful way,” senior and Symposium founder Sam Director said. “In short, I wanted students at Whitworth to see that ideas are not just abstract and academic, but that ideas are vital and essential to an examined and ethical life.”
Although last year was Director’s first year starting the Symposium, he has been on the speech and debate team for three years.
Before students are able to give a lecture, they must complete an application process to be approved by a board of directors of students and faculty. Students who were selected to be on the board of directors first observe the Whitworth Symposium in the fall and then take on lectures in the spring. This ensures that students on the board will have enough experience to participate on the board the following year.
“We have a board of directors and student faculty who work on approving proposals,” Director said. “Our first lecture this year is from a student who studied in the Middle East. His lecture will be on just and unjust wars in Islam, and I’m beyond excited for that.”
Last year, five lectures consisted of topics such as agricultural discourse, sexual assault in the military, feminist research and more, representing students from seven majors ranging from math to English.
Senior Niko Aberle had the opportunity last year to give a lecture on U.S. agricultural policy, genetically modified foods and organic farming. Aberle was the second lecturer last year and had a turnout of 52 people at his lecture.
“I would encourage other students to apply because it’s an awesome opportunity. It’s demanding, but it’s a relatively low-pressure environment for this sort of thing,” Aberle said.
The lectures usually last for about 25 to 30 minutes and often have a Q-and-A at the end of the lecture as well. The total attendance overall for the lectures last year was 193 people with an average of 38.6 people per lecture.
The lectures have even been offered as Core extra credit and Director noted that the Core 350 team has been has been especially supportive.
“Professors have been incredibly supportive from the get go and the strong wave of faculty support has been really great on our end,” Director said.
Not only has there been positive feedback and support from staff, but from students as well.
“I’m really excited to hear the lectures and read the research. I think it’s courageous to go up there and share your ideas,” ASWU liaison Eli Casteel said.
Whitworth Student Symposium is an opportunity for students to share ideas they are passionate about, and encourages all students to be a part of the experience whether they give a lecture or attend the lectures.
“We’re a conduit for intellectual conversations on campus and a platform for passions, “ Casteel said. “They are inclusive and intellectual conversations.”
The first Symposium of the year is Sept. 24 at 7p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre.
Contact Sasha Siclait at