Graduate students from Syracuse University, Cornell University and the University of Rochester will gather in Syracuse for the 4th Annual Central New York Conference on Publicly-Engaged Graduate Education.

The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. April 15 at The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse. Registration is free and includes breakfast and lunch. E-mail Wendy Nastasi at by April 10 to register.

This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Sari Knopp Biklen, Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and chair of the Cultural Foundations of Education department in Syracuse University’s School of Education. Biklen is conducting a research project entitled “Smart Kids – Visual Stories,” a Chancellor’s Leadership Project, which engages students in grades 4-7 to create digital videos about their experiences in urban schools and their insights into the quality of their education. She will speak at 1 p.m.

The Smart Kids project has established a partnership between Syracuse middle school students and faculty and students from the School of Education and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and allows adolescents to express their own knowledge as well as develop their visual and narrative storytelling skills. The project began in 2009 at Levy K-8 School, and now includes the Roberts School (part of the Schools of Promise program), ELMS (Expeditionary Learning Middle School), Ed Smith and Percy Hughes; as a result of Levy’s closure in summer 2010.

“The conference reflects on the work of publicly engaged scholars, and it seeks to create a community for and among regional graduate students who see their work as partnered with the public,” said Wendy Nastasi, Ph.D. student in the School of Education’s Cultural Foundations of Education program and regional director of Imagining America’s Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program. “The work of Imagining America is very reflective of Chancellor Cantor’s ‘Scholarship in Action’ mission.”

The conference will feature presentations by publicly engaged graduate students working under several broad themes, including the relationship between the university and the community; the relationship between marginalized groups and educational institutions; and how public scholars address the idea of identity.

This year’s conference is co-sponsored by Imaging America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life; the Syracuse University Graduate School; and the Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor, an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.