SSA: Breaking Out of Our Academic Bubbles

Emma Derr

We get so caught up in our own classes and interests that it takes some prompting to look outside our own academic bubbles.

Washington and Lee can feel like a school with a lot of separation between subjects.

Coursework does intersect and overlap, but rarely do we look around and notice the amazing work our peers are doing around us. When is the last time you read a friends research, not to provide feedback, but out of interest and enjoyment?

If I had to guess, it was not recently, but it should be.

That is, in my opinion, what Washington and Lee’s Science, Society, and the Arts conference highlights.

SSA is a multi-disciplinary conference designed for undergraduate and law students to showcase their original work to the Washington and Lee community. The sciences, humanities, law school, performing arts, and visual arts are all brought together through poster sessions, panel presentations, and a gallery showing.

This year, the biennial event will take place March 16-17.

“SSA does break down some of these barriers or at least allows you to, in a seamless way, walk through what appear to be barriers and to engage somebody else,” said the chair of SSA, Matt Tuchler,

We are all incredibly intelligent and talented individuals from diverse backgrounds that have a large capacity to engage with each other in meaningful ways.

This is a special opportunity to showcase our own academic achievements, but more importantly, to witness the academic experiences of others.

SSA is not a requirement, and most students see it as simply a day off from classes. This should not be the case.

We have all been accepted to this school not because we have fulfilled requirements, but because we went above and beyond them.

As we all know, doing all the required reading for an English class isn’t necessarily the hallmark of an education, but examining the characters, forming opinions of the themes, and analyzing the literary devices is.

I ask you to look at SSA the way you would approach a reading because it’s not just about our classes, its about the way we read between the lines of our education.

SSA poses an excellent opportunity to listen to the research of others and learn about what motivates other people to do their work.

It also gives you opportunity to submit a piece of your own and to be exalted for all the hard work you have done.

I believe it is essential to take a step back and realize that the work we do is of high quality and truly interesting.

Instead of using Friday March 17th as another day to sleep in or go out, use it as a day to engage. Go to a panel that is a topic you know nothing about. Learn from your peers and support your friends.

Take advantage of the environment we are so lucky to be a part of and the experiences our faculty, staff, and administration have organized so that we could take a step back from learning from them, and instead learn from each other.