The Petersheim Academic Exposition, an annual gathering of the BIG EAST’s finest academics, took place Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29 with over 40-plus events spanning across almost all academic departments.
This is the 26th anniversary of the Petersheim Exposition, founded in 1996 by a Seton Hall chemistry professor Matthew Petersheim.
Co-chair of the event, Dr. Sulie Chang, said that since Seton Hall has always traditionally celebrated athletic achievements, Dr. Petersheim believed there should be a means of celebrating academic achievements as well.
Thus, the Petersheim Academic Exposition was born. Much like the Big East Championships, this exposition is a place for students and academics from all schools across the Big East to come together and showcase their successes. “The presenters are the best of the best [in the Big East],” Dr. Chang said.
Originally, the festivities were limited to just chemistry. Over the years, however, that changed.
“The expo is not just for science majors,” said Dr. Jose Lopez, Assistant Professor of physics and co-chair of the exposition. “The events can include business, diplomacy, theology, language—it includes a few of the departments across the university.”
Usually, the exposition meets in-person, but was unable to happen in the past two years because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This event provides Seton Hall students a chance to network and share their academic successes beyond Seton Hall, and with other students throughout the Big East. “The expo provides an opportunity to go beyond what you learn in the classroom.” Dr. Lopez added.
The foreign language department showcased verbal skills acquired in class to other students across the Big East. In the past, the foreign language event in the Petersheim Academic Exposition was a competition between students studying the same language but that was unable to happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So the section was switched to a virtual joint panel discussion.
On Monday, April 25 co-chairs of the foreign language section of the Petersheim Exposition, Dr. Chen and Associate Professor Dr. Diana Alvarez-Amell—along with their students—presented their language panel discussion titled: Language Acquisition and Cultural Understanding: Interactive Oral Practices.
The students presented their projects assigned by their professor, interactive oral practices shared via podcast and VoiceThread activities. Dr. Chen’s introductory Chinese students did a podcast in Chinese whereas Dr. Alvarez-Amell’s advanced Spanish students provided different VoiceThread activities in their discussion.
“The podcasts were helpful to enforce natural speech patterns,” said Dr. Chen “a specific student told me that: ‘this taught me how to pause’.” Not only were the projects more practice, but also, they helped reinforce the importance of natural word flow in conversations.
In her students’ projects, Dr. Alvarez-Amell said that students “were allowed to practice in a non-judgmental way. The program wouldn’t judge.”
Dr. Alvarez-Amell emphasized how difficult it is to acquire oral proficiency saying, “It’s like doing push-ups. You can’t just do it for one day, it’s an entire process.”
The ultimate goal of the panel was to get students out of their comfort zone, while also getting to a point in their foreign-language speaking where they would feel comfortable conversing.
“When you reach a certain stage, you find a world that is very rewarding,” she added.
The Petersheim Academic Exposition ended on April 29th with a Catholic Intellectual Session at 5:00pm. Most of the events of the expo were virtual this year due to the pandemic.