Lee hosts Latin American and Iberian studies conference

Lee hosts Latin American and Iberian studies conference

Conference attendees listen to Robert Bennett’s presentation via Skype.

Photo courtesy of the Lee University Public Relations office

Lee University’s Department of Language & Literature recently hosted its sixth annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Latin American and Iberian Studies.

The purpose of the conference is to promote academic excellence among undergraduate students and to bring together students and professors from a wide variety of disciplines including languages, humanities and history.

This year, attendance reached over 250 people among international teachers and high school students. Eleven colleges and universities from around the nation were represented along with high school students from Colombia and Cleveland. 

“This has been the sixth successful undergraduate conference in a row,” said Alexander Steffanell, director of the Latin American Studies program at Lee. “For the first time, we had 20 international high school students and teachers from Colombia presenting and plan to expand the countries represented at the conference in the future. Not only has the conference been a place to exchange intellectual knowledge, but also a place to raise awareness of Latin American and Iberian issues.” 

Represented at the conference were 25-30 professors and undergraduate students from Lee University, along with delegates from the University of Kentucky, Gettysburg College, Tennessee Wesleyan University, Young Harris College, Georgia College, Georgia State University, Harding University, Covenant College, Universidad Minuto de Dios and Universidad Santo Tomás.

High school students exhibit poster presentations on Latin and Iberian studies in the lobby of Lee’s Humanities Center during the conference.

Photo courtesy of the Lee University Public Relations office

The poster presentation session featured work from Gimnasio Jireh (Cota, Colombia), Colegio Americano de Ibague (Ibague, Colombia), and Cleveland High School.

Students and faculty from all fields and disciplines related to Latin America and Spain were asked to present on literature, humanities, language and other topics in relation to the culture of Latin America and Iberia.

The Lee students presenting for the conference were Easton Bevel, Audra Chaney, Jude Clarke, William Gardner, Julius Garrod, Victoria Lentz, Micaela Lucas, Barbara Quintard, Joanna Van Pelt and William Wheeler.

Students discussed a variety of topics such as bilingualism, families, education, social issues, government and Colombian culture.

“This annual conference always aims to explore critical thinking on culture and enhance research on controversial but up-to-date topics,” Steffanell said.

The main panel included presentations with Lee alumni Robert Bennett and Emily Bricker. They discussed how Lee University helped them succeed in their current professions and explored the relationship between culture and foreign language, as well as how such knowledge will help them move forward in their careers.

“Attention to diversity and culture is important in all sectors and across all levels of education, so I decided to share my experience as an international educator with culturally responsive pedagogy,” Bennett said. “I based my presentation less on the theoretical underpinnings of this method, and more on practical aspects, answering the question: how can a ‘culturally responsive life’ help us improve situations of injustice and inequality?” 

Bennett earned his Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Lee University and his Master of Arts in education from the University of West Florida with a focus on TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). He is currently a primary teacher in Norway.

Bricker earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with minors in intercultural studies and TESOL from Lee University. She currently serves as an immigrant advocate and will soon begin her Master of Arts in international studies at Fuller Seminary.

The presentation panel moderators were all from Lee University and included Evan Humphreys, Rachel Leidemann, Dr. Sara Ortega-Higgs, Barbara Quintard, Guilherme Silva Von Streber, Hannah White and Dr. James Wilkins.

For more information on the conference, contact Steffanell at asteffanell@leeuniversity.edu or call (423) 614-8216.

For more information on Lee’s Department of Language & Literature, call (423) 614-8210.

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