APU Community Reasons Together at Common Day of Learning

by University Relations

The 20th Annual William E. and Ernest L. Boyer Common Day of Learning (CDL), a campus-wide multidisciplinary conference dedicated to the advancement of scholarship and learning, enabled faculty, staff, and students to share their recent academic discoveries.

The university shuts down all regular activities and cancels all classes, allowing the entire community to participate in the unique tradition. Held on March 7, CDL featured more than 75 scholarly sessions, involved 220 presenters from nearly every department, and included individual and group seminars, discussion, and poster sessions, reflecting Isaiah 1:18 and this year’s theme, “Let Us Reason Together.”

Keynote speaker Timothy Dalrymple, Ph.D., shared insights from theologian Søren Kierkegaard in his keynote address, “The Ladder of Thorns: Finding God in a Life of Suffering.” Attendees benefited from his reflections on the often-perplexing relationship between human suffering and divine love. Dalrymple serves as the director of content for Patheos.com, a multifaith website that facilitates a marketplace of religious ideas, and managing editor of its Evangelical Christianity Portal.

Students chose from captivating sessions throughout the day. Thomas Parham, Ph.D., acting co-chair and professor in the Department of Theater, Film, and Television, hosted such a panel composed of guest television writers, directors, and producers to examine the value of television programming in “Television: Wasteland or Bully Pulpit?”

“I hope students will realize television has entered a new golden age and that the medium has become a destination for acclaimed storytellers like Martin Scorsese, J.J. Abrams, and Jonathan Nolan. Also, a hit television series like NCIS can average nearly 20 million viewers a week, far surpassing the number of moviegoers who see the top film in any given week,” said Parham. “Common Day of Learning is a great opportunity for the APU community to come together and explore issues related to a universal theme. It’s a highlight of the spring semester and one I look forward to every year.”

Student presenters valued the opportunity to present research to peers about topics that spark their passion. In “Celebrating Excellence in Undergraduate Research: Winning Entries from the Fourth Annual Honors Paper Competition,” Heather Murphy ’12, an art major and Honors Program student, presented her paper, “From Sacred to Modern: The Community Roles of Exiled Tibetan Artists.”

“This important forum enabled me to share about this group’s struggling identity, sparking new interest in the subject,” said Murphy.

“For the past 20 years, the CDL conference has highlighted the significant and important scholarship that takes place in our classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and community on a daily basis,” said Jennifer E. Walsh, Ph.D., associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, professor of political science, and CDL faculty director. “CDL gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on how our commitment to academic excellence has transformed lives and the world around us. ”

Originally published in the Summer '12 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.