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From Curiosity to Exploration: Linking Knowing and Doing. Celebrating A Decade of Inquiry March 30 and 31, 2012.
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Conference History

Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC  

Dr. Sara Lyles Sanders, Professor of English at Coastal Carolina University, had an idea. She was prone to sprouting many ideas. This one was huge. She shared the idea with Dr. Joan Piroch, Professor of Psychology, who confessed in her introductory remarks during the first conference that she thought her colleague was crazy. That was until she saw the excitement this idea sparked. Sanders's idea was to unite our university community in interdisciplinary conversation around a common theme. Let the conference create a space in which students can experience and participate in inquiry-based intellectual discussion. But it had to be the whole community, not just a segment of it, to work.

Sanders and Piroch invited interested faculty and staff to an informal, one hour meeting to talk about the idea. Over 100 people responded. I attended the meeting, and saw how the innovative concepts and ideas continued well past the one hour. People lingered to brainstorm. The university president and provost proudly endorsed the concept to extend our commitment to student formation beyond the classroom. Regular classes were re-directed for two days to the Conference sessions and activities. The event brought together students, faculty, staff and community members in celebrating intellectual inquiry across disciplines.

Past conference themes included:

  • 2012- "From Curiosity to Exploration: Linking Knowing and Doing."
  • 2011- [There was not a 2011 Conference as its frequency changed to biennial. ]
  • 2009- "Sharing Stories: Learning Through Discovery to Build a Better World" established from Sam Keen's quote "Telling our stories might be the most human thing we do. By telling stories we remember our past, invent our present, and revision our compassion and create community with kindred souls."
  • 2008 -"The Modern Life: the challenges and advantages to Living and Learning in the 21st Century."
  • 2007 -"Think Globally, Act Locally: guiding our changing world" inspired by the Gandhi quote "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
  • 2006 -"Living the Questions: creating, connecting, changing" based on the Rainer Rilke quote from his "Letter to a Young Poet", announcing to "Live the questions now."
  • 2005 - The fourth Celebration’s theme reflected the University’s 50th anniversary, 1954-2004, with the theme of “Memory, Place, Identify: Behind Us Before Us, within Us." The subtitle was borrowed from a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us". The keynote speaker was Dr. Rushworth Kidder, founder and president of the Institute for Global Ethics.
  • 2004 - Third Conference’s theme of “Seeing the World Anew”. Einstein wrote, “No problem can ever be solved by the consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew."
  • 2000 - “Truth, Beauty and Imagination in the Academy”. As stated in the 2000 conference Program Schedule, “Einstein said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’. Knowledge is critical, but it is imagination which moves us beyond the limitation of what we know to what we might be able to know.”
  • 1999 - First Celebration of Inquiry was “Conflict and Creativity in the Search for Knowledge”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Horry County School Superintendent, Gerrita Postlewaite were plenary speakers.

The Celebration of Inquiry Conference has found its place within the values of Coastal Carolina University. It is another opportunity to educate our communities through inquiry. So far its history may appear brief, but its effects are long-lasting.

Charmaine Tomczyk
2009 Celebration of Inquiry Director
July 2012

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