Scholars Week is an annual tradition for Western Washington University that has steadily grown in popularity over the years. It will celebrate its 16th anniversary this year starting on Monday, May 16 and running until Friday, May 20.
According to the event’s official website, the weeklong celebration of undergraduate studies first made its appearance in 2000 as Scholars Day, which was created to accommodate multiple events highlighting all the work undergraduate students were doing.
Steven Emory is a professor of chemistry and a committee member for the event. Emory explained Scholars Week has evolved from departmental programs doing different types of events to a week that collected those together under a broad umbrella.
He said the poster session that they host is only one part of Scholars Week, but there are still a lot more department events going on during that week.
Emory said most people shows up for the poster sessions. The poster sessions, which run Thursday, May 19, to Friday, May 20, in the Wilson Library Reading Room, are a way for students to present their research to a wider audience.
The majority of people that show up are juniors and seniors that have become more aware of the week and know people who are presenting, Emory said.
“We encourage first and second year students to go to Scholars Week because it is really a great way to get a picture and see what opportunities are out there at Western to engage in scholarly activity,” he said.
Patrick Kissinger, a Scholars Week intern, said the event is important because it highlights the individual student achievement and shows students that they can have opportunities to contribute to the university in more ways than just grades.
“Make a project. Do research that is meaningful, The University recognizes students for that. We have a banquet in the middle of the week, on Wednesday, and it’s a huge dinner for [students]. They will get certificates for presenting. It’s great that it rewards students for basically following their passions,” Kissinger said.
Each year, the committee receives nominations from the faculty for a keynote speaker. They try to keep it diverse in terms of background, particularly in discipline, Emory said. The theme this year is Fine Arts and Humanities.
This year’s keynote speaker, who will present at the banquet, is Kent Monkman. Monkmans website, http://www.kentmonkman.com, describes him as a Canadian Artist who is of Cree ancestry.
Monkman does a lot of Native American artwork with a queer influence, Kissinger said.
Kissinger also said Monkman tackles a lot of social issues in his artwork, and Kissinger described him as bold painter because his work could deal with capitalism or environmental protection.
The Pickford Film Center and The Queens’ Vernacular, the Western film group formed by Greg Youmans and Chris Vargas, is also doing a showing of Monkmans film work.
Monkman will be showing a collection of short videos called My Treaty is with the Queen. The movies will be shown Tuesday, May 17, at the Pickford.The total running time of all four videos is 60 minutes.
Another event during Scholar Week will be an academic club fair where academic disciplines can talk about Scholars Week and what students can do to advance academic research on campus, Kissinger said.
In total, there will be over 20 different events that students and faculty can attend. A full list of all the events, including which posters will be shown on which day, can be found on the Scholar’s Week website.