Seton Hall University’s Petersheim Academic Exposition is moving forward, but on an entirely virtual platform.
Dr. José Lopez, professor and co-chair of the 2020 Petersheim Academic Exposition Planning Committee, said the exposition is a showcase of all of the “learning, scholarship and research that goes on in our entire University.”
The event provides the opportunity for the students to share their scholarly work, according to Dr. Sulie Chang, professor and co-chair of the 2020 Petersheim Academic Exposition Planning Committee.
An email from University spokeswoman Laurie Pine describes the exposition as a celebration of academic accomplishments involving students, both undergraduate and graduate, faculty and staff across various schools and disciplines.
The event is university wide, not limited to certain colleges. According to Lopez, students, faculty, administrators and staff from various schools will all be participating. Research, poster sessions, presentations, discussions and exhibits will round out the 2020 events.
Lopez said, “It is not one event, it is many, many, many events. Some of them are faculty research that they’re showcasing.” But, according to Lopez, the vast majority of events in the exposition are student work.
The event will kick off on Monday, April 20 and last until Friday, April 24. All events will be offered online via Microsoft Teams live events.
“I think we will have a very successful exposition, because students are used to [using Microsoft Teams],” Chang said. Many students have been using Microsoft Teams for the past several weeks to attend virtual classes. Chang believes that that familiarity will help Seton Hall students adjust to the virtual exposition.
Lopez explained that the exposition would use Microsoft Teams live events to livestream the participant’s research and presentations. The livestream is open to anyone at Seton Hall. Lopez said, “Going virtual allows us to livestream … Once you know the URL link you essentially click on it and you can watch it on your smartphone or computer.”
Links to the events may be found on the Seton Hall website and additional details about registration and instructions for attendance are upcoming, Pine confirmed via email.
According to Lopez, Microsoft Teams live events support up to 10,000 attendees and allows for question and answer segments.
The decision to hold the event on a virtual platform was one that the Planning Committee had to make relatively recently. “Should we cancel the exposition since everything was online?” said Chang. “Now this is the situation, we had to do it.”
The previous Petersheim Academic Expositions have all been a series of in-person events. This year, the exposition will feature fewer events, but they will all be virtual, according to Lopez, who added that this was a new experience for everybody involved.
The Opening Reception of the Exposition will be held at 12 pm on Monday, April 20. Lopez noted that the Opening Reception is a chance for the committee members and speakers to welcome the participants, as well as an opportunity to discuss the importance of research and scholarly work at Seton Hall.
Pine said in an email, “This year’s Dean’s Discussion Panel [at the Opening Reception] will focus on how we foster student success as One University.”
After the Opening Reception and before the Closing Ceremony are all of the other events, a “whole spectrum” of events, said Lopez.
At least two events will focus on the COVID-19 outbreak, including a scientific panel and a separate panel that focuses on the theological and sociological aspects of the virus, according to Lopez.
At the Closing Ceremony on Friday, April 24, committee members decide which students have the most impactful research or project, as explained by Lopez. Those students are honored and given a travel stipend for their continuing work.
When asked why putting on the exposition was important to Seton Hall, Lopez said, “It shows in a very concrete and physical way, whether it’s in a physical room or virtual, the learning that has happened, the new knowledge that has developed, the journey, if you will, that students go on.”
Change stated that she has been working on the Petersheim Academic Exposition for many years and hopes that this year’s event will show Seton Hall students the importance of research.
For these reasons, Lopez felt that the event could not simply be cancelled or postponed. By moving the exposition to a virtual platform, the University still benefits from the knowledge and “new understandings” on display during the exposition, said Lopez.
Lopez describes the exposition as an important part of Seton Hall’s culture as “knowledge seekers” and as an event that is unique to Seton Hall. He said, “I would say [the Petersheim Academic Exposition] is the World Series meets Superbowl, World Cup, you name it, it’s the championship of all learning.”
While it is unfortunate that the reality of COVID-19 has pushed the exposition to a virtual platform, Chang is glad they can still showcase the events. “I am glad we can contribute,” said Chang. “It’s an unusual situation, but we do our best.”
Marie Leone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.