For nearly a decade, the Richmond Quest has brought faculty, staff and students together to explore and create unique ties that span the wide variety of disciplines the university has to offer. In Quest's final year, students are encouraged to ask the question: "How is it connected?"
"How is it connected?" has inspired the development of events such as the WILL Speaker Series: "Politics of the Body." The series begins on Sept. 23 in the Brown Alley Room of Weinstein Hall with Farzaneh Milani, professor of Persian Literature and Women Studies at the University of Virginia, discussing "The Veil: A Modern Fetish."
Also, courses have been developed in response to the Quest question. This semester, Dana Lascu, a professor of marketing in the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business, is teaching "Connections in International Marketing." The course explores the international environment and its link to marketing.
In addition to teaching a Quest course, Lascu is also a co-chairwoman of the Quest program. Lascu said she had seen an increase in intellectual dialogue on campus since the inception of the Quest program.
"It's been one of these great resources that allow you to do the kind of thing that otherwise you would not," Lascu said. "The Quest program allows you to think outside the box."
Quest gave seniors Kyle Bell and Jason LaValla the chance to spend five weeks in India this past summer. LaValla and Bell sent in a proposal to Quest International as well as the Center for Civic Engagement-Quest Research Fellowship program and were granted $9,080 to travel to Chennai, India. Working with Nicole Sackley, a professor in the history department, they began shaping a thesis examining the Indian education system as a way to assess the attitudes of their peers in India.
"A big part of our project, while we were in India, was building a relationship between UR and the University of Madras, our 'headquarters' in Chennai," LaValla said.
Establishing such a relationship with a school in India has been an aspiration of LaValla's peers and professors involved in international studies, he said, but they hadn't had the chance until this summer.
The Quest program has given many students opportunities, such as researching in India. Nevertheless, after nearly a decade, the Quest program has reached its end.
The money for the Quest program will now be allotted to new, but similar programs, including Sophomore Scholars-in-Residence.
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"In light of the strategic plan and the momentum around the new Sophomore Scholars-in-Residence initiative, it seemed to make sense to build upon the successes of Quest in a way that reached across the broadest array of campus constituents," President Edward Ayers said.
SSIR is set to begin in the fall of 2009. Sophomores will be offered a choice of four courses. These students will live together in Lakeview Hall creating a "living-and-learning" atmosphere. They will engage in different projects and activities throughout the year including traveling together as part of a research project. Travel expenses will also be paid through the program.
"As we move forward, I see the spirit of Quest going further by increasing the opportunity for student financial assistance for experiential involvement," Ayers said. Ayers added that there would be greater opportunity for faculty to apply for grants for better teaching opportunities within the SSIR program.
In the future, Lascu said she hoped programs such as Quest and SSIR would become mainstream on this campus.
"We're having more interesting dynamics on campus now," Lascu said. "It would be great if that is the status quo and you don't need a particular program to do that."
Contact reporter Brittany Combs at firstname.lastname@example.org
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