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10 Years of Presenting Graduate Research & Scholarship at UND

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The Graduate School at the University of North Dakota hosts the 10th annual Scholarly Forum, March 8-9 in the Memorial Union. The Scholarly Forum highlights the cutting edge research and creative scholarship from all corners of our graduate community.

It was the inspiration of Graduate Dean, Joseph Benoit who speaks with Elizabeth Howell about the vision and development of the annual event.

I’ve heard the Forum happened after you and the then-chair of music, Gary Towne, had a conversation in 2001 about creating a university-wide event to present research. How did you get from that conversation to founding the Forum in 2002?

Shortly after moving to UND, in Fall 2001, I was talking with Dr. Towne in my office.  I referenced a goal that I had set during my interview of increasing opportunities for exchange of scholarly work on the campus and stated that I was planning to develop a research day in the future, but that it would most likely occur in the next academic year.  Dr. Towne asked, why not start now, which resulted in further discussion.  Shortly after our meeting, I moved forward with organizing the first forum.  There was an infectious excitement on the campus about having a university wide event that brought the scholarly community together.  The community of scholars at UND were responsible for the early success.  All I did was plant the seed.

Even the first Forum appeared to be quite multidisciplinary, to the extent that you featured student artwork as well as research. What sort of reaction did you receive from the community following its first run?

The first forum was multidisciplinary by design.   My goal was to have an inclusive event that spanned the breadth of graduate programming at UND.   The response of the campus community was overwhelmingly positive.   Many individuals found potential for collaborative scholarship on the campus and later commented that they did not know that there were other researchers at UND with similar interests.  Others came as spectators and commented that they would be submitting their own presentation next year.

What’s the biggest change you and other organizers have made to the Forum since then?

The format of the forum has not changed much since its inception.   Perhaps the biggest changes have been in the keynote speakers.   In the early years of the forum, we had invited speakers from other universities.   While these were outstanding lectures, I thought that it would be more fitting to have keynote speakers from UND.  More importantly, I saw an opportunity to feature Assistant Professors who were at the beginning of their faculty careers.   As a result, the Graduate Dean’s Lecture Series was started.   These lectures add a unique dimension to The Graduate School Forum and keep the focus on the research conducted at UND.

This year’s theme is “10 Years of Presenting Cutting Edge Research and Creative Scholarship.” Keeping that theme in mind, what will be the highlights of this year’s Forum?

There is no single highlight.  Each presentation highlights the fact that research and creative scholarship is the heart of the university.  Each presentation highlights original work that advances knowledge.   The information disseminated in the Scholarly Forum presentations cannot be found in text books, journal articles and libraries.  It has yet to be published.   The magnitude and caliber of new knowledge generated by UND scholars is the highlight of the Forum.

How do you market the Forum to people outside of the UND community?

The Forum is open to the public, however the target audience  is the UND community. Information about the Forum is available on The Graduate School web site.

UND not only has a variety of disciplines, but also a variety of cultures — many of its students come from out of state, or even out of country. How do you try to bring out that aspect of UND in the Forum?

We do not attempt to bring out differences in cultures of the presenters;  the diversity of presenters is self-evident.   Instead we feature the work of scholars who are contributing to the culture that makes the University of North Dakota one of the premiere educational  and research institutions in the midwest.  To this end, the Forum unites scholars from around the world who have chosen to work and study at UND.

What else would you like to add to this discussion?

I am very pleased with the campus wide support that the Scholarly Forum continues to receive and encourage the UND community to attend the lectures, poster sessions and panel discussions.   It’s the best way to “Learn More”.

Aerial view of the poster session

2010 Scholarly Forum poster session

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Written by School of Graduate Studies

March 1, 2011 at 9:16 am

Posted in Events, research

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. […] The University of North Dakota’s Graduate School’s Scholarly Forum celebrates its 10 Anniversary next week.  Check out an interview with Dean Joseph Benoit. […]


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