The purpose of a symposium, at its core, is to engage with others. Its audience may be very specialized, such as a subset of scientists or politicians, or very broad, such as the general public. Regardless of who it relates to, symposia deal with the transfer of knowledge, which is a tremendously difficult subject. Throughout history, we are met with thousands of instances where the failure to transfer information led to problems; was it not each workers’ different language which doomed the Tower of Babel? The pitfalls of the past events, particularly those which had to do with symposia, allow the ENVX Symposium to better orient itself for the future. Engagement has changed rapidly in the past years.
Story sharing was created as a way to ground issues which may seem alien in concept. People engage with those who represent a view contrary to theris in order to relay the experiences which have shaped their opinions. By doing this, it helps humanize perspectives and help facilitate understanding between different groups. As an example, let’s look at the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, which brought about massive amounts of social unrest. By bringing together migrants fleeing from war in the south, and scared and angry residents of European countries, story sharing was able to help bridge the gap between two worlds of thought.
When speaking on pressing issues, it is common that a person afflicted by said problems comes forth to talk first-hand. They may discuss issues of poverty, inequality, pollution, or a number of others which have impacted the livelihoods of them and those around them. On the topic of conservation, this becomes trickier. Initially we might think that bringing in conservationists is the best possible way- they have the most training, and many have tremendous amounts of field experience. This, however, isn’t the only route which can be taken. Many other groups exist within the realm of conservation. These may include local residents, farmers and ranchers, politicians, biologists, loggers and miners, activists, and a slough of other groups. Because there are so many approaches to discussing conservation, an effective way of relaying information could be “story sharing”.
As described by Luyet et al. in a paper published in 2005, a few key traits can be used to evaluate which actors have a critical stakes in a project. This list of traits include degree of involvement, type of stakeholder, past events which have shaped development, as well as knowledge and experience of the project manager. From these traits, and the analysis of their importance illustrated by Luyet et al., objectively critical stakeholders can be identified.
For the ENVX Symposium, the most critical two actors involved are both the college and the student body. In this case, one cannot exist without the other, and it’s important to keep both within the decision process. Without the college, the ENVX symposium would be hindered in its ability to gain structure or funding, and would have no place for the events to be hosted. Without students, then the ENVX Symposium would lack funding, most of the attending inidividuals, as well as representation; keynote speakers are critical, but so are the voices of the youth who seek to initiate change in the future. Without the voices fo the students helping to shape the symposium, then it would lack its connection to the campus.
How it Relates
When it comes to the ENVX Symposium, story sharing could help play a massive role in grounding conservation with the student body, as well as with speakers. By creating dialogue between contrarians, focused on the events which have brought them to their own conclusions, the audience would have a better understanding of their positions. It is one thing to know someone’s views, but it is entirely different to know why they are shaped in these particular ways. Furthermore, story sharing could also play a critical role in challenging different assertions and raising questions for both presenters and audience members to debate. When we share our stories, we’re able to find commonalities among experiences, and further discern where different paths cross and split. This method would be highly effective with a panel of speakers or a debate between two presenters, both of which are goals for the 23rd annual ENVX Symposium.