University at Albany
Dr. Laura V. González-Murphy, director of the New York State Office for New Americans

UAlbany Grad Students Present Interdisciplinary Regional Conference

On Friday, February 26, the Graduate Association of Political Science (GAPS) and Students of Educational Administration for Change (SEA Change) presented the 4th Annual Institutions and Societies Conference in Husted Hall on the downtown campus of the University at Albany. Rockefeller College alumna Dr. Laura V. González-Murphy, director of the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA), delivered the keynote address. Dr. González-Murphy, a scholar on the evolution of Mexican immigration history and policy, spoke about ONA’s innovative programs and services for immigrants living in New York State and offered ideas on how the New York State model can be adapted for use in other locations.

The Institutions and Societies Conference provides graduate students from colleges and universities throughout the Capital Region an open venue to promote cross-discipline dialogue and to gain feedback from faculty and peers in order to improve the overall quality of graduate research. “We purposely leave the definitions of these two concepts – Institutions and Societies -- broad and vague to allow for the largest variation in the proposals,” says Josh Caldon, a member of the conference’s planning committee and a political science doctoral student.

This year’s conference attracted over 20 proposals from graduate students engaged in research from a wide range of disciplines: education, public administration, political science, social welfare, and anthropology.  Conference co-sponsors included Rockefeller College’s Department of Political Science, the School of Education’s Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies (EAPS), University Auxiliary Services (UAS), and the Graduate Student Association (GSA).

Presenters and discussants came from a number of departments at the University including political science, public administration, and education administration and policy studies. “We appreciate that faculty take time out of their schedules to attend, serve as discussants, and provide students with feedback in a low-stakes setting,” says conference co-chair and political science doctoral student Keon Weigold.

“I had no idea that a professor in a different department was using methods I was interested in exploring,” says cultural anthropology doctoral student Kimberly Berg, “I received very useful feedback from someone I wouldn’t have known to approach.” 

The Institutions and Societies Conference is entirely organized by graduate students from GAPS and SEA Change. Students began planning for the conference in October of 2015. “Planning this event is a long-term commitment,” says conference co-chair and EAPS doctoral student Maria Ishaq Khan. “It is organized by graduate students for graduate students, and we hope that it continues to support their needs in the future.”

Article originally published on March 9, 2016
Contact: Mary Hunt at (518) 442-5264