NRHC 2021

Infrequently Asked Questions:

Finding Solutions to Impossible Problems

March 30 - April 11, 2021

presentation formats


-live presentations-

Paper Presentations

Paper presentations give students the opportunity to share their research findings from any discipline on a panel with 2-3 other students who generally share similar research topics. Students are encouraged not to read a paper but to instead present dynamically on their topic. There will be a brief Q&A after each presentation as well as an overall Q&A to conclude each paper session. Students must identify the appropriate strand, listed below:


  • Business, Economics & Technology

  • Education

  • History, Politics, & Culture

  • Honors Education and Practices

  • Language, Literature, & Philosophy

  • Mathematics, Sciences, & Health

  • Media and the Arts

  • Social Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Archeology, Geography, and Jurisprudence)

Virtual Presentation Format: Students will present their research via a 12-14-minute oral presentation via Zoom.

Roundtable Presentations

We encourage roundtable presenters to pose challenging, infrequently asked questions to conference attendees. While your research may begin to tackle these questions, your roundtable presentation will engage conference attendees to offer their opinions, ideas, and solutions to these research problems. This year’s theme, more so than ever, encourages thoughtful dialogue and conversation.


In addition to that, we also encourage proposals that have a direct relationship with Honors Programs. How has Honors enabled students to experiment, create, and expand their horizons? What activities help to strengthen the sense of community in a diverse program such as this? How can Honors help students to navigate difficult circumstances, develop critical thinking skills, or allow more research to find answers to some of the problems we are currently facing? 


Roundtable discussions are meant as a way of direct interaction between students. Ideas should be exchanged by using the presenters’ initial proposal to start a conversation via a virtual presentation format. This is a distinct difference from paper presentations. Presenters craft remarks that allow for interaction amongst those attending the roundtable presentation.


Virtual Presentation Format: Roundtable presenters will be paired with presenters with similar research topics. Each session will last 75 minutes and will include four 15-minute sections, allowing attendees to drop in to several roundtables within each session. Presenters are encouraged to share literature and/or hand-outs about their research.

art gallery submissions

We welcome proposals which highlight the special dispensation privileged by the arts and media when it comes to explaining the unexplainable and solving the impossible. When the world today seems to have taken a leaf out of the surrealist's book, it is no wonder we look to various media and art styles to come to terms with everything. Best put into words by Leonardo da Vinci, "a beautiful body perishes, but a work of art never dies". Art no matter its medium persists though the ages, what legacy will you leave behind?

Artwork can include many genres: drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, digital art, and more. The art show application requires you to provide the following information about your artwork: 

  • Description of the piece and how it relates to the conference theme

  • The size of the piece

  • Type of artwork (e.g., drawing, photograph, sculpture, painting, etc.)

NOTE: Students who submit artwork may also submit a paper, poster, or roundtable proposal. It is not necessary that the artwork and proposal be connected in any way. Although you are not required to submit a proposal in addition to the artwork, you are encouraged to do so.

Virtual Presentation Format: All art presentations must be pre-submitted for inclusion in our online art gallery. Artists will have the option to present via Zoom for 10-12 minutes in a panel with 2-3 other students whose artwork utilizes a similar medium. There will be a brief Q&A after each presentation as well as an overall Q&A to conclude each paper session.

-pre-recorded presentations-

Poster Presentations

Academic poster presentations are an excellent way to showcase research and findings by balancing textual and visual information one-on-one or to a small group. Presentations from all disciplines are welcome. Students must identify the appropriate strand, listed below.

  • Business, Economics & Technology

  • Education

  • History, Politics, & Culture

  • Language, Literature, & Philosophy

  • Mathematics, Sciences, & Health

  • Media and the Arts

  • Social Sciences (Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Archeology, Geography, and Jurisprudence)

  • Honors Education and Practices

Virtual Presentation Format: This year, poster presentations will be pre-recorded. Students who complete academic research posters will be required to submit a video consisting of their poster with audio narration. Videos must be submitted to NRHC by March 10th, 2020. All materials will be archived on the NRHC website.

Idea exchanges

The Idea Exchange provides an opportunity for conference attendees to share information about the exciting and innovative ideas they use in their programs through an informal forum to engage in discussions about new and emerging practices that you have found effective in your honors program. Preference will be given to proposals that are about ideas and practices that are new, creative, and/or innovative; that document success; and that have a clear fit with this type of session.

Please select one of the following themes for your proposal:


  • Advising and mentoring

  • Communication strategies

  • Building community

  • Diversity and inclusion

  • Experiential learning

  • Programming and special events

  • Recruitment and marketing

  • Student leadership and involvement

  • Unique courses or course activities

  • Other

Virtual Presentation Format: This year, Idea Exchanges will be pre-recorded. Students who present Idea Exchanges will be required to submit a video consisting of their poster with audio narration. There will be an emphasis on downloadable supplemental materials, so be prepared to share literature, pamphlets, and/or hand-outs about the ideas you hope to share. All materials must be submitted to NRHC by March 10th, 2020 and will be archived on the NRHC website.


strand descriptions

strand descriptions

Business, economics, and technology

For this strand, we encourage students to look into how individuals, businesses, states, or countries have been affected by global issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic or other recent economic downturns. Which solutions to these problems have proven successful and which have not? More importantly, attempt to answer the question of why they were or were not successful. Because of Covid-19, contact tracing has emerged as a necessary aspect of successfully re-opening economies. How has technology evolved to allow for this opportunity. Are there ethical or privacy issues contained within this method? What impact can newly emerging technologies have on individuals, businesses, and countries moving forward? How have the consequences of the pandemic effected affluent countries as compared to impoverished nations?  How might we look to business, economic, or technological solutions to deal with the rising social inequity occurring throughout the world?


Reviewed by Irina Ellison (Mercy College) and Mike Tasto (Southern New Hampshire University)

strand descriptions


James Baldwin once said, “The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”  This strand seeks proposals that explore how education empowers individuals, particularly the rising generation, to ask uncomfortable questions about society and its accepted values - and then pursue the creation of a radically different reality.  It likewise encourages proposals that examine how education has been used to reinforce the dominant culture and suppress dissent and societal change.


Reviewed by Richard Cohen (Nassau Community College), Linda Kobylarz (Post University) and Darryl Peterkin (Morgan State University)

strand descriptions

History, Politics, and Culture

We welcome proposals of past or current youth-driven movements, coalitions that address multiple concerns simultaneously, stories of accomplishing what was considered impossible at the time, and other ideas based in history, politics, and culture. As Nelson Mandela so famously said, “it’s always considered impossible until it’s done.” Youth movements often call attention to problematic norms that are seen as natural to the dominant culture. They challenge assumptions and ask uncomfortable questions. Discomfort, however, is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s key to making change. Discomfort, as Bernice Johnson Reagon says, is a fundamental part of working in coalitions, “Most of the time you feel threatened to the core and if you don't, you're not really doing no coalescing.”

Reviewed by Ann Bomberger (Gannon University) and Andrew Martino (Salisbury University)

strand descriptions

Honors Education and practices

Honors is a unique community of students, faculty, and staff who have insatiable curiosities, hunger for knowledge, and a passion for lifelong learning. It is in world of honors that we push ourselves to ask the less obvious questions and seek their answers (even if they aren’t the answers we want). For this strand, we welcome proposals that provide examples of the many ways that honors education and practices encourage academic excellence, build strong communities, and create the leaders of tomorrow. Faced with a more virtual reality in all facets of life, honors can be the leader in education by crafting meaningful, engaging, and creative experiences for students, faculty, and staff alike—even if we cannot do so in person. Through innovative virtual courses, honors contracts, research projects, and online community events, honors communities can not only encourage the asking of impossible questions but also encourage the quest to answer them. Honors programs and colleges will persevere beyond the unprecedented time of today, ultimately emerging stronger than before. We welcome presentations that discuss the successes of the honors programs and colleges of this region. Also welcome are proposals that discuss the areas of improvement and struggle. Honors has always been a leader in higher education and this talented region can share its collective knowledge at NRHC 2021 and become a regional leader of honors in the United States.


Reviewed by Chris Brittain and Kathryn MacDonald (Monroe College)

strand descriptions

language, literature, and philosophy

This strand invites proposals from literature, composition, linguistics, and philosophy to explore unasked, ignored, or misrepresented questions and study representations of generational conflict. Both literature and composition at times address the lacunae of a work—what is left unsaid, what assumptions cause a gap in the logic. Literature also has portrayed characters who do that which others find unspeakable (ex, A Doll House, Beloved). Why do authors explore these disturbing actions? Under what circumstances can the repugnant be deemed acceptable?  How do hackneyed phrases comfort people who feel unsettled or angered by change (“all lives matter”; “some of my best friends are black”; “outside agitators”) and how might those phrases be interrogated? By addressing both contemporary issues and the questions of identity that contribute to generational conflict, Philosophy challenges commonly held beliefs and the ethics of acting for or against previously unquestioned beliefs.


Reviewed by Ann Bomberger (Gannon University) and Irina Ellison (Mercy College)

strand descriptions

natural sciences, mathematics, and allied health

Research in science and mathematics uses systematic approaches to address practical and impractical problems alike. Scientists, mathematicians, and health care providers ask questions that previous generations have not yet thought to ask. They interpret and influence the way humans see the world and solve complex problems. Scientists seek solutions to their questions by presenting original research or reinterpreting existing data. Mathematicians employ algorithms and proofs to solve problems of structure, space, and change in a unique way. Health care providers seek solutions to ongoing and novel healthcare issues across the globe. They also incorporate the experiences of their patients into healthcare decisions and communicate solutions to government officials involved in health care policies. We welcome proposals that provide examples of the questions, problems, and solutions addressed by those in the natural sciences, mathematics and health care.


Reviewed by Zachary Aidala (Bloomfield College) and Richard Cohen (Nassau Community College)

strand descriptions

media studies and the arts

This strand welcomes proposals that examine ways in which media and the arts—how media, artists, and art forms— have helped humanity ask and answer impossible questions. We look to the media for answers every day. How does the media influence and shape our perception of politics/the 2020 election? Of the Black Lives Matter Movement? Of the coronavirus pandemic? While the news media can provide us with information and answers to our questions, it can also lead to more questions, leaving us frustrated, dissatisfied, and anxious. How can artists and their work, whether in music, dance, theatre, photography, written art forms (novels, poetry, prose, etc.), sculpture, drawing, and so on, question norms in society? Influence people to unleash their innermost creativity? Pay attention to social issues? It might just be that artistry provides the most authentic “answers” to how we feel, react, and respond in uncertain times. Both media and the arts are powerful. They have the ability to satiate curiosities, spark discussions and creativity, and show the best of humanity. Likewise, media and the arts can lead to endless questions, lead to worrying, and focus on the worst of humanity. We encourage proposers to explore any of these ideas and to add their own questions and answers in meaningful, thoughtful ways.


Reviewed by Chris Brittain and Kathryn MacDonald (Monroe College)

Social Sciences (Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Archaeology, Geography, and Jurisprudence)

Many academic disciplines within the social sciences study society and the relationships among groups and individuals within a society and beyond. For this strand, we seek proposals that explore the sociology, anthropology, psychology, archaeology, geography, or jurisprudence branches of the social sciences. We also welcome proposals that engage in interdisciplinary study of society and the interlocking institutions that shape it.  


The social sciences provide fertile ground for investigating the conference theme of “Infrequently Asked Questions.” Scholars in the social sciences are familiar with asking uncomfortable questions about individual lives, group identities, societal relationships, and power structures. This year’s theme offers a unique opportunity to shine light on such investigations. Proposals might range from critical evaluations of current problems to discussion for opportunities for change in the future. Presentations may consider the interconnectedness of social problems such as racism, classism, sexism, economic disparity, access to medical care, or neglected communities. 


How can we bring innovative approaches to the impossible questions being asked today amid multiple crises? Considering the upcoming 2020 election, how is the behavior of individuals, groups, elected officials and law enforcement agencies influenced by the voices of competing forces, agendas, and motivations? What responsibilities do entities like businesses, educators, health care providers, and non-profit organizations have to individuals and communities even when navigating compelling needs and social unrest?  What actions can you, as honors students, take to ask the hard questions and spark innovation for your campus and beyond?

Reviewed by Helen Fallon (Point Park University) and Stacia Kock (Salisbury University)

proposal rubric


On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being completely unsatisfactory and 5 being extremely satisfactory), please rate the proposal in the following areas:

  • Context and Background on Topic (does the proposer give appropriate details to contextualize his/her topic?) 

  • Presentation Purpose (is the proposer’s purpose clear? Has he/she stated what the audience will learn?) 

  • Creativity of Idea (does the proposer have a creative way of approaching the topic?)

  • Usage and Grammar (is the proposal coherent? Is it well-written?) 

TOTAL POINTS =  ___/20