Saturday, April 19, 2014

Student Presentations at Academic Festival 2014

The Moot Court Experience celebrated its 12th year as a highlight of Academic Festival. Here they are ready to start. Front Row: Jessica Mark, Jessica Maulucci , Aesha Sanders. Second Row: Zahra Nayyeri, Carla Hernandez, Jessica Todd, Caitlyn Ebert, Jordan Sieracki, Tom Aldrich, Mitch Altman-Cosgrove Third Row: Troy Hamlin, Nigel Hayes, Emily Kraft, Jarret Streicher, Amy Grimes (not pictured: Special Thompson)

On Wednesday, April 17th, students from the History & Political Science Department put their learning on display in an impressive array of presentations that included the Moot Court Experience; a Model UN Simulation, Senior Thesis & Independent Research presentations, a presentation by students who participated in the Poland Summer Program, and poster presentations from the Legacies of the Sixties first-year Learning Community.

 The Moot Court Experience


Nigel Hayes, a member of the prosecution team, questions witness (Troy Hamlin) with defense witnesses at center, and jury members on right. At far left of photo is Caitlyn Ebert, lead attorney for the defense

The Moot Court Experience celebrated its twelfth year as a highlight of Academic Festival. Moot Court is the signature event of the History & Political Science Department's Pre-Law Student Association (PLSA). This year's case centered upon a charge of sexual harassment. After the trial, audience members and court participants engaged in a "talk-back" session (in collaboration with members of the newly-forming student AAUW club). This year's trial united the legal simulation with issues of fundamental importance in society and the workplace, adding a new dimension to the event.

Lead prosecution "attorney" Special Thompson questions defense witness (Zahra Nayyeri) as judge (Mitch Altman-Cosgrove), jury, and defense team (Caitlyn Ebert,Carla Hernandez, and Jordan Sieracki) observe.
Dr. Lisa Parshall (far left of photo) reprised her role as bailiff and Moot Court coach

Since its inception, more than 100 students, from a wide array of majors, have participated in this event as attorneys and witnesses. Scores more have served as jurors. Moot Court is a student-focused event that develops and celebrates the advocacy skills of aspiring legal professionals and future community leaders. Former participants have gone on to attend law school, to practice law, to serve as community organizers and policy advocates, to become business leaders and executives, and to pursue advanced graduate studies.

This year's guest judge, Mitchell Altman-Cosgove, was a 2013 graduate (Political Science, Pre-Law Minor) and winner of the 2013 Daemen College Alumni Senior Award.  Mitch, along with three other participants from last year's event, is finishing up his first year of law school.

The (victorious) defense team.
Front: Carla Hernandez, (judge) Mitch Altman-Cosgrove, Zahra Nayyeri
Back: Jordan Sieracki, Jessica Mark, Caityn Ebert,Tom Aldrich

The prosecution team: Jarret Streicher, Amy Grimes, Emily Kraft, 
(judge) Mitch Altman-Cosgrove, Nigel Hayes, Troy Hamlin 
(not pictured: Special Thompson)

For more information about the Pre-Law Student Association, contact Dr. Lisa Parshall, Associate Professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Advisor (lparshal @ ). 



 Model UN Simulation

Many students from Dr. Aakriti Tandon's International Relations class took part in a Model United Nations Simulation, which Dr. Tandon added to the Academic Festival roster of events in 2013. Students participated as UN moderators and as national representatives of member states. This year's simulation focused on a resolution about nuclear armament of Iran and the country's refusal to cooperate with the UN or engage in talks with the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and Israel.

Students representing member states & the United Nations panel included Francois Acosta, Christina Auguste, Jenil Bell, Ashley Cheff, Anthony Difrancesco, Ryan Fritton, Thaddeus Gibson, Allison Goodwin, Nigel Haynes, Christina Heppner, Stephen Kem, Paige Kippley, Zahra Nayyeri, Luke Schaefer, Daniel Vennero, Keyla Marte, China Palmore, Nicholas Paveljack, Kathryn Procknal, Manuel Ramirez, Hannah Wolfanger, Sarah Zammiello, and Mei Yan Zhan.


Student Research: Senior Thesis Presentations (Political Science) & Independent Readings Project (Women's Studies)

An afternoon session at Academic Festival featured senior thesis research by two political science majors, along with a presentation of an independent reading project in women's studies.

Amber Zielinski (Political Science major, December 2013 graduate) presented her thesis research, which explained how action on climate change is kept off the Congressional agenda as policy is being formulated

James Stumpf (Political Science major, class of 2014), presented findings from his research on the degree of municipal stress in Erie County's towns and villages.

Elizabeth White (Physical Therapy major, Women's Studies minor), presented insights from
her Independent Readings course (in Women's Studies) on the history of women in medicine and science

Polish Studies Program

Dr. Andrew Wise introduces Elizabeth White, Caitlyn Ebert, and Chelsea Sieczkarek

Three of the students who took part in last summer's Study Abroad program in Poland shared photographs and described what they had learned about World War II and Public Memory in Poland. The students spoke about many dimensions of their experiences in Poland, emphasizing the scope of public memorials to the victims of the Nazi and Soviet occupations and their own service learning work in the Jewish cemetery in Przemyƛl, where students were centered. They also talked about what they had learned by interacting with Polish students and by visiting historical sites (including memorials to World Wars I & II and the Holocaust). Caitlyn Ebert emphasized the powerful impact of Holocaust memorials; Elizabeth White discussed women's role in Polish resistance movements during World War II, and Chelsea Sieczkarek emphasized that cultural traditions currently observed in Poland are different than those preserved by her family in Buffalo (such as Dyngus Day). Another trip to Poland is planned for this summer: contact Dr. Wise (awise @ to learn more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

West Virginia Mine Wars Show at Daemen

Saro Lynch-Thomason, leads marchers in singing "Hold On" during the 2011 March to Blair, a re-enactment of the 1921 March on Blair Mountain

By Penny Messinger

On April 2, artist and labor activist Saro Lynch-Thomason treated a Daemen audience to the story of labor activism in West Virginia in the early 20th century. The show combined spoken word narration with Saro's vocal performance accompanied by the mountain dulcimer, while archival images brought the story to life. The show emphasized the intersection between labor activism and efforts to save the environment of the Southern Appalachians, showing how the site of a major event in labor history is endangered by the current practices of the mining industry. A story about the show appeared in the April 14th edition of The Daemen Voice.

The range of music in the show reflected the ethnic and racial diversity in mining communities of a century ago. Contrary to perceptions of Appalachia's residents, miners were a diverse lot. Along with native-born mountaineers, the mining work force included large numbers of African-Americans (both from the region and from other parts of the South) and immigrants, many of them recent arrivals from southern Europe. This diversity was evident in the images of miners, as well as in the range of music included in the show: labor songs, traditional ballads, an Italian exile anthem, folk songs from the African-American miners, and religious hymns.

Saro sings while playing the mountain dulcimer

Saro concluded the show by discussing Blair Mountain, WV, which had appeared in the show as the site of a major conflict between striking miners and coal operators in 1921. Threatened by mountaintop removal coal mining, Blair Mountain has been a rallying point for historians and environmentalists who point to the mountain's historical significance, which will be destroyed if the coal companies are allowed to proceed with plans to mine the location. "Blair Mountain has a good chance of being saved," Lynch-Thomason explained, both because of its historical significance and because of the declining value of the coal that is layered in the mountain. She emphasized ways that those in attendance can act to preserve Blair Mountain. She also talked about her book, Lone Mountain, a children's book about mountaintop removal. Her watercolor illustrations were on display during the show. 

Artwork from Lone Mountain Book Project: A Children's Book about Mountaintop Removal

You can learn more and find resources for taking action to save Blair Mountain at the Blair Pathways website, and the I Love Mountains web portal, and at our earlier blog post from March 14th.

The performance was sponsored by the History & Political Science Department, the Offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, the Division of Arts & Sciences, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the Department of Modern Languages, and the Program in Global and Local Sustainability.