Student research recognized during Celebration of Creative Inquiry

The Celebration of Creative Inquiry is a campus-wide, public forum to share Gustavus students’ personal research. The phrase “Creative Inquiry” is intentionally broad in order to encompass research and scholarship in all academic disciplines. In previous years, there have been over 140 separate posters representing student projects from across campus in almost every discipline.

There are different ways that projects can be submitted. Students can submit summer research, a class project, or collaborative research with a faculty member. Projects are presented in a poster format, and viewers are allowed to tour the event, asking questions of the researchers and their projects.

Some professors, including  Geography Professor Anna Versluis and Professor of Health and Exercise Science  Bruce VanDuser, incorporate Celebration presentations into their classes and encourage students to share their work.

“The [Celebration of Creative Inquiry] is an opportunity for the campus to experience the excitement of academic scholarship and learning. At Gustavus, students have the opportunity to go beyond being consumers of knowledge to become producers of knowledge.  Witnessing this transformation from ‘this is what an expert tells me, this is what I read in a book’ to ‘this is a thesis I struggled to create, this is a study I designed, these are data I analyzed and interpreted’ is very exciting,” Versluis said.

Bruce VanDuser, in addition to encouraging creative inquiry, organized the students who attended the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research. The opportunity for students to encounter other academic disciplines and share their work with the larger Gustavus community is key. Presenting research to one’s peers,  VanDuser believes, is critical in concluding one’s research.

“Research unshared is research unfinished. Research is the practitioner’s way of teaching and learning. Researchers ask questions, develop processes to gather evidence to answer questions and add to the body of knowledge, make applications of results and conclusions, and finally and most importantly, share their experiences. The multidisciplinary environment of the Celebration event provides students and faculty the awareness of what creative inquiry is in other disciplines, and allows all to escape from their defined boxes,” VanDuser said.

Physics Professor Thomas Huber is also serving as the Faculty Associate for Undergraduate Research in the Kendall Center. The range of students and departments represented at the Celebration is one part of the event that Huber truly enjoys.

“It is exciting to see students engaged in such a wide range of different types of projects. They are excited and articulate about sharing their project with other students, faculty, additional members of the community and the general public. The students are involved in activities ranging from in-class projects, independent studies, senior thesis projects, and summer research.  There are students from most academic departments across the entire college,” Huber said.

Getting involved in next year’s event is a good opportunity for students and faculty in any and every department. Questions regarding potential submissions for next year can be addressed at