The Mississippi State University College of Arts and Sciences is hosting a series of lectures and panels focusing on public humanities research beginning at 12:30 p.m. March 4 in the Honors forum room on the fourth floor of Griffis hall.
Daniel Punday, one of the event organizers and the department head of English, said the purpose of the event is to give a public space for students and professors to present their research on the humanities.
"We wanted to focus on what we call 'public facing research,'" Punday said. "This fall we decided we should get more discussion about what is going on, and then in a year or two if we want to get involved with a bigger program, but it is better now to just get people talking."
Punday said the series of lectures are accomplishing two goals: to fulfill the purpose of a land grant public university and to get MSU faculty more involved by inspiring them to present their research.
"We are supposed to be doing things for the public good; I know regular people sometimes do not know what we do, so that is one goal," Punday said. "The other goal is to get faculty on campus thinking about doing this kind of work."
One of the topics being discussed in the series of lectures is Remembering Emmett Till, which will start at 4 p.m. The speaker, Dave Tell, has a PhD and is a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas.
The other event organizer Melanie Loehwing, a professor in the department of communication, said Tell was chosen because of his research on the story of Emmett Till and the struggle to have that dark time recognized in the state of Mississippi.
"Emmett Till’s legacy is an important part of Mississippi history, and Dr. Tell's work helps trace some of the unknown portions of that history," Loehwing said. "And also the struggle to get that history commemorated in the state of Mississippi. The larger emphasis of the event is public humanities work."
Punday said the topic of Emmett Till is one the general public is familiar with, but also one that has some more information to be learned through the research presentation by Tell.
"It is a nice example of a topic that people in this state relatively are aware of, and yet, it is a place where there is a gap between public perception and academic research," Punday said. "It is a nice case where we can help regular people explore it in a way that maybe only professors would, that is the idea behind this lecture."
Punday said he hopes Tell’s research being presented will encourage both faculty and students.
"I’m hoping that getting Dave Tells' project out there and discussed ... it will kind of inspire them to say, 'I can do that or I can do something like that,'" Punday said. "What I’m particularly interested in is student research. Having to take the research you may be doing in a honors thesis or masters thesis and present it to the public will give you a whole set of skills that you may not get."
Honors student and Griffis resident Samuel Blades, a freshman biomedical engineering student from Madison, Alabama, said the Shackouls honors college is encouraging students to do research and to present it by hosting events like the public humanities research series.
"I think the way they encourage research, even from when you enter the Honors college, I think it gets people interested to do it maybe their junior or senior year," Blades said. "So just getting and thinking about it freshman year opens up the door for further research. Every now and then they have some sort of research display in the lobby and everything, and it just shows you what you can do."