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General Education
Inaugural Conference Showcases Excellence

Student Presenters

Session 1-A: The Point of General Education
Getting to the Point of GenEd: A Student Perspective
  • Kathryn Betz
  • Babbie Dunnington
  • Lisa Taff
Session 1-B: Campus Life
  • Daniel O'Hanley — Perception and Realities of Greek Life on Campus
  • Valerie Hargis — Did Ya Hear About the Blonde Who. . .
Session 1-C: Music
  • Martin King — Hiawatha as Inspiration for Dvorak's New World Symphony
  • Keith Speers — The Russian National Anthem Crisis
  • Melissa Bowles — Aaron Copland: A Merging of Music and Painting
Session 1-D: Classroom Design
  • Panel — Classroom Space at JMU: Does Classroom Design Impede Meeting the Liberal Arts Goals of General Education
  • Colin Delaney-Karell — Give Me an A
  • Samier Ahsan Mansur — Finding My Role Within the System
  • Krystal Heflin — Education of Today
Session 2-A: Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Erin Larkin
  • B. Grant Marshall
  • Monica Scherer
  • Stephen Turner
Session 2-B: Human Rights I
  • Kathryn Macchiaverna — The HIV/AIDS Crisis in Africa in the 21st Century
  • Molly McHale — Oscar Romero: Voice for the Poor of El Salvador
  • Mia Wilson — A Complete Ethnic Cleansing: Human Rights Violations and Civilian Targets, Destroying Darfur from the Inside Out
  • Dana Weismuller — Child Soldiers in Africa
Session 2-C: Walker Percy
  • Panel — Walker Percy and Maintaining Sovereignty in the Face of Reformulations
  • Erin Clott — My Reach for Sovereignty
  • Lauren Sumner — To Be Myself or Someone Else? That is the Question
  • Virginia True — My Experience with "The Creature"
Session 2-D: Colonial Encounters/Political Action
  • Kimberly Daniels — Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Gandhi: A Look into the Development and Impact of Non-violence in Shaping Social Movements Throughout History
  • Lauren Elizabeth Bien — Fourteen Hundred & 92
  • Alexandra Meador (presented by Michelle Brown) — Get Out the Vote: Rights, Roles, and Status of Women in Twenty-first Century America
  • Leela Pereira — Essay on Passage to India
Session 2-E: Time Management

It's Not OK (Group Presentation- Video)
  • Zina Brown
  • Leah Katz
  • Kirk Musngi
Session 3-A: Dracula
  • Lauren Barringer — Bram Stoker's Dracula as a Metaphor for Colonialism
  • Colleen Cooney — Victorian Vampires
  • James Giardina — The Eroticism of Dracula
  • Caitlin Loftus — Dracula Versus Victorian England
  • Katie McPadden — Dracula as an Allegory to Great Britain during the Irish Famine
Session 3-B: Human Rights II
  • Amanda Jones (presented by Megan Buckman) — Congo Movie
  • Laura Smallfield — The Adopted Country Journal on Ghana
  • Travis Ward — Rwanda: History of Genocide

Session 3-C:  Writing

  • Katherine Carr — The Hell and Joys of Student-Teaching Dance Classes: A Story of My Loss and Recovery of My "Creature"
  • Ashley Hardwick — The Good and Bad of All
  • Katherine Kerr — Do They Tell a Story?
  • Emily Prillamam — Good Assignments vs. Bad Assignments
  • Blaine Young II — To Be or Not To Be: Is That the Question? Is Education Necessary in Today's Society?

Session 3-D: Photo Essays

Photo-essays: Exploring the Text-Image Relationship Panel

  • Sarah Dugan — War: A Last Resort
  • Gina Harp — The Doors of JMU
  • Alicia Wilson — Picture Perfect
  • Alyson Wood — The Great Horror Film Robbery

What sort of classes could a computer science major possibly have in common with an English major? How about a political science major and an art major?


At James Madison, the commonality is found in general-education courses — those courses designed to give undergraduates a more well-rounded education than they would otherwise get if they focused solely on their major discipline. And, judging from presenters at the first-ever General Education Student Conference, there's value in the design.


The Oct. 7 conference in Taylor Hall featured about 50 students presenting exemplary work they completed in GenEd courses during the past year. It wasn't uncommon to hear the presenters comment that they likely wouldn't have considered the courses had they not been required, nor to hear students state the courses taught them valuable lessons.


Lisa Taff, for instance, said her "Critical Reading and Writing" course greatly enhanced her analytical skills. At the conference, Taff presented a letter to her mother that she wrote as a course assignment in which she discussed the importance of understanding rhetoric. Taff said the class strengthened her analytical skills and taught her to think in ways she had not been taught before — skills that have since proved valuable in other classes.


Kathryn Betz said the same GWRIT 103 course was important to her for learning how to write a paper with well-supported arguments, a skill she has used in other classes. The class also taught her how to see through propaganda and better analyze varying points of view.


Other students presented written essays, photo essays and poems on topics ranging from women's rights to exploring the techniques used to create horror films at the conference, which is to become an annual event.


Gina Harp, a sophomore accounting major, even shared a bit of advice for promoting JMU in university publications by featuring various campus doors to symbolize themes such as friendliness, openness and opportunity.


More information about the General Education program is available at:

Click Here For Conference Photos

Published October 2005 by JMU Media Relations