Our Symposia

Students organize five annual symposia, several of which have been running for many decades. Though each symposium is sponsored by a particular academic department or program, they attract audiences from the entire institution and draw participants from the Portland community, across the Pacific Northwest, and beyond.

  • Marking its 26th anniversary in October 2023, the Environment Across Boundaries (ENVX) Symposium invites participants to cross intellectual, geographic, and communication boundaries to examine all sides of contemporary environmental issues. The 2023 theme, Life within Capitalism: Reconsidering Market Consequences and the Earth System, will examine how the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution have led to narratives that identify “Capitalism” and Globalization as fundamental causes of environmental degradation. This theme will be explored through a series of events, including keynote addresses, a panel discussion on the transition to alternative energy, a carbon emissions trading game, and an interactive art workshop about the circular economy of waste studies.
  • National and global questions of race and ethnicity are at the center of the Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies, created by students to honor a beloved alum and former staff member. One of the highlights each year is the Race Monologues, a powerful and moving presentation of original narratives written by L&C students of color to share their experiences with racial and ethnic identity. Mixing academic explorations with deeply personal reflections, recent symposia have focused on the prison-industrial complex, education, place and belonging, memory and ancestry, health and medicine, and revolutionary struggle. The 19th annual symposium in 2022 focused on the Art of Storytelling.
  • Now over 40 years old, the Gender Studies Symposium examines issues of gender and sexuality through feminist and queer theoretical frameworks. Recent symposium topics and themes have included capitalism, security, access, care, and fantasy, with distinguished keynote speakers from academia, activism, and the arts.
  • The Middle East and North African Studies Symposium, which is the newest of our annual symposia, showcases research on this region of the world on issues such as migration, religion, human rights, and artistic expression, among many other topics.
  • Heralded as the oldest student-run symposium in the United States (it began in 1966!) and highly acclaimed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, the International Affairs Symposium illuminates controversial international dilemmas through a series of debates featuring policy experts and public figures from opposing viewpoints. Recent symposia have examined topics such as state sovereignty, humanitarian intervention, populist movements, global development, and the role of non-governmental organizations.