Students Present Culminating Work on Senior Projects Day


Pacific University’s cornerstone civic engagement requirements for undergraduates increase students’ “social capital,” promote their interdisciplinary understandings and encourage them to continue to be engaged in their community.

That’s the take of Max Seiler, a sociology major who studied the efficacy of the civic engagement requirement as part of his senior project.

Pacific University hosted its annual Senior Projects Day on April 24, with seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences presenting their culminating projects for the community. From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., students presented more than 230 classroom sessions and 40 poster presentations, explaining their research or projects to audiences of peers, staff and faculty, family and friends.

Seiler, who said he is passionate about service and came to Pacific in part because of the civic engagement requirement, surveyed and interviewed participants in two civic engagement courses to determine if Pacific is meeting its goals of “inspiring students to think, care, create, and pursue justice in our world,” as stated in the university’s mission statement.

In those classes, students already started with a high value for engagement, but they also said that their courses connected them with new networks, gave them access to community resources they would use in the future, and gave them a sense of purpose and value in the community.

“They all had a neutral or positive experience. They all felt they had a positive impact on their community,” he said. “The majority felt CE should be required.

“My conclusion is that students are developing valuable knowledge, skills and viewpoints.”

Elsewhere on campus, students also talked about their own efforts to engage in their community through their projects.

Kristina La Casse, who is studying environmental studies with a sustainable design emphasis, took her passion for environmental stewardship into Pacific’s Early Learning Community, where she helped develop curriculum to get kindergarteners outside and connected with the natural world around them. Her project, “Integrating Outdoor, Place-Based Education in an Early Childhood Curriculum,” provided the ELC with three activities that kindergartners used and enjoyed last year, including collecting and studying seeds, making sunflower bird feeders and pureeing non-edible crops to study pH and later create artwork.

Lauren Kumpel, an exercise science major, explored how extrinsic rewards could help people get more motivated to engage in physical activity. Nikole Gebhart developed a website to make the collection at Pacific’s Old College Hall museum more accessible. And math major Evan Cooper developed new mathematical ranking systems for college football.

And there are hundreds more. Read more about some of the presentations at the Pacific magazine Editor’s Blog.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013