Symposium undergoes changes


Brad Stout | The Chart

Dr. Christopher Capozozola, associate professor of history at MIT, answers a question from moderator Steve Wagner, professor of history at Southern, during the Harry and Bernice Gockel International Symposium March 31 in the Taylor Performing Arts Center.

Missouri Southern’s annual Gockel Symposium may be in the process of changing. For the first time, the symposium, which was held March 31 in the Taylor Performing Arts Center, was moved from its usual spot on the calendar during the fall semester to its new home in the spring.

According to Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies, the reason for the move was to differentiate the event from the international studies department’s annual theme semester, also held each fall.

“We do so much programming for the theme semester, often there are 40 to 50 events, and the symposium is just one of that 40 or 50,” said Stebbins. “It really needed to be singled out a little more than it had been. The other reason is that the fall has so much programming with the theme semester that we wanted something for the spring.”

The subject of this year’s symposium was the 100 year anniversary of World War I.

Speaking at the event were Dr. Christopher Capozzola, associate professor of history at MIT, and Brian Grubbs, director of the statewide World War I digitization project “Over There: Missouri and The Great War.”

Another new element to the symposium this year was the presence of authentic World War I uniforms and memorabilia on display throughout the auditorium. Provided by Shannon Kelly of TAMKO Building Products, Inc., these pieces helped add a thrilling new quality to the symposium, said Stebbins.

“He really added a lot of atmosphere and flavor to the event through all the uniforms and the machine gun onstage and the memorabilia in the lobby,” said Stebbins. “I heard several people say ‘Oh,this is really cool.’”

For the future, Stebbins is entertaining the idea of giving ownership of the symposium to Southern’s social science department.

“Harry Gockel [the founder of the symposium] was a longtime member of the social science department both at Joplin Junior College and at Missouri Southern,” said Stebbins. “So, it might be nice if the social science department were interested in perhaps taking ownership of it.”