Forum Aims To Cross Boundaries Between Fields, And With The Audience

Apr 15, 2017

NIU CLAS Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs Brian Sandberg
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

On Monday afternoon, a multi-disciplinary group of Northern Illinois University faculty will hold a panel discussion on “Brexit, Nationalism and Extremism: The Future of Europe" in the Cole Hall Auditorium. It’s part of a new series that promotes interaction between researchers in different areas, and with an audience of students from across the NIU campus, graduates and the larger community. 

Bryan Sandberg is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs at the NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  He says the traditional model of academic presentation tends to be narrowly-focused and somewhat static.  The CLAS Research Forums aim to stimulate an active dialogue between experts in their respective fields, and between the experts and those in attendance.

“So you get this swirling conversation of ideas, that’s more dynamic, I think, than just having a single lecturer and the audience being passive, then finally getting to ask one or two questions at the end,” he says.

Sandberg says the point is to get the audience involved in learning about the latest research on issues they’ve probably been hearing in the news. That includes the members of the panel, who are able to get a different perspective on a topic from colleagues in another discipline.

Sandberg says a lot of people, including students and even faculty members, don’t know the remarkable amount of cutting-edge research that is going on at NIU. And too often, he says, faculty and students focus on their own disciplines and aren’t aware of what their colleagues in other fields are doing. The forums help bridge that gap.

Past forums have looked at the 2016 election, immigration and climate change. Sandberg says NIU hopes to continue the series.

There’s no shortage of topics.