Accessible Scholarship + Conferences

This week was the 10th anniversary of the Made in Millersville conference, an internal conference at MU aimed at celebrating interdisciplinary scholarship. While the conference is formatted with undergraduate STEM majors in mind, this conference is a really rewarding space to get feedback from people outside our discipline, highlighting the importance of accessible scholarship. MiM offers a pointed reality check for grad level projects because the broad audience of MiM requires careful preparation to communicate complex ideas with the recognition that we have information bias that leads us to overestimate how much about our topics of interest the general public knows.

I’ve been working with the material I presented for over a year now and I’ve become so immersed in it that I’ve already forgotten how revolutionary some of these ideas were to me when I first encountered them. Being able to take a step back and remember what it was like to first encounter Critical Disability Studies (CDS) and to share what I’ve learned about it has reminded me why my project is important – not just because it’s cool and I’m having fun – but there is a real radicalness to CDS that people want to know about.

It’s also great practice to work on an “elevator pitch” of a complicated project. Many of the people I spoke with took a look over my poster and then asked me “so, what’s the point?” Being able to answer this question is one of the more difficult aspects of large-scale ENWL research; how do you distill a year or more worth of ongoing investigation into a few minutes of conversation? It is still a struggle, but my answer for now is through practice. Presenting versions of this project in the classroom and at other conferences prepared me to turn a blank stare into a nod of approval or at least consideration.

TL;DR MiM has been a great exercise in meeting people where they are at, getting to the point, and being reminded of the value of ENWL scholarship.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.