Grace College Hosts Regional History Conference, Encourages Intercollegiate Collaboration

On April 14, Grace College hosted the seventh annual Chicagoland Christian College History Conference for the first time. The event featured six different schools—including Judson University, Goshen College, Huntington College, Olivet Nazarene University, Trinity Christian College and Trinity International University—as well as 16 different presentations of historical research and commentary. The conference provided a significant opportunity for Grace students and professors to dialogue with and learn from other students and professionals from like-minded academic spheres.

The event, says Dr. Jared Burkholder, was “meant to provide students an opportunity to experience what it’s like to give a paper at a professional conference without the pressure of a large audience or intimidating scholars.” Held in Westminster Hall, the campus building that now houses the Reneker Museum, a historical attraction itself, the conference consisted of lectures ranging from the women’s temperance movement in Elkhart, Ind., to an expositional piece on the nomadic tribes of Mongolia. The low-stress, high-quality format of the event was a positive environment in which students were able to practice their presentation skills and professors were able to share methods and encouragement.

Hillary Burgardt-Grace College

“It was a very intimate gathering. I didn’t feel like I was lost in a crowd of academia,” says junior Hillary Burgardt, one of three Grace students who presented. “I enjoyed that because I got a lot of feedback about what I had written which you don’t necessarily get at a larger conference.” Burgardt’s positive interactions wither fellow historians and the informative reactions she received concerning her work illustrate a desire on the part of the school as a whole to be more integrated with a wider academic community. Such collaboration is being held up as a possible paradigm for future department-coordinated opportunities.

“Faculty members come along to be encouraging mentors, not critics,” says Burkholder who is at the forefront of organizing prospects that give students a chance to simulate a professional scholarly experience. “Just because [this conference was] small doesn’t mean that it was not significant. [Students] will get other chances to do this on a more professional or even national level and this helps get them ready.”

Holly Savage-Trinity International University

Burkholder hopes to discover and initiate other events similar to the History Conference because he knows that they will encourage students like Burgardt not only to hone their academic art, but also build relationships that are encouraging and educational. “When I get to meet people from other schools, especially from other Christian schools, it’s nice to get a fresh perspective,” says Burgardt. “I appreciate the opportunity to broaden my mind.”

Grace College and Seminary is an evangelical Christian community of higher education which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and applies biblical values in strengthening character, sharpening competence, and preparing for service. The Seminary is conservative, evangelical, and has a rich tradition of sound biblical education that prepares men and women for both local and global church ministry. All of the institution’s academic, residential, athletic, and social priorities are designed to encourage intellectual and spiritual growth in a supportive campus community. Grace College also offers convenient and flexible online and hybrid-online graduate degrees and an on-campus or online degree completion program. The newest initiative—Grace College Weber School—is a highly-affordable, easily-accessible two-year degree program in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. Grace has historically been among the top schools of its size and listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges. The Princeton Review has regularly awarded it the title of a “Best Midwestern College.”  The 180-acre main campus is located in the historic resort town of Winona Lake, near Warsaw, Indiana.

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