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Academic Initiatives

Jesuit Student Research Symposium

In partnership with the Jesuit Archives & Research Center and the Office of Mission and Identity, the History Department has helped to organize an annual student research symposium that explores Jesuit history and contributions to the arts, sciences and American culture. 

Each year, SLU undergraduate and graduate students join students from other universities in presenting their research on some aspect of Jesuit life and history. The symposium provides a wonderful opportunity for students to present their work in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

Our presenters conduct most of their research at the beautiful new Jesuit Archives and Research Center on 3920 West Pine Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108, 314-376-2440. 

Since 2014, when we commemorated the bicentennial of the restoration of the Jesuit order, the Symposium has focused on vital historic and cultural experiences in Jesuit history. 2019’s theme is Jesuits and American Culture. We welcome papers and presentations on all aspects of this theme, ranging from the earliest Jesuit missions to the present day. Some of the topics could certainly embrace subjects covered in earlier symposia, such as theater, music, explorations and scientific discoveries.

Presentations can consist of traditional research papers, artwork, music, or visual displays. Our symposium will be held on Friday, April 26, 2019. Contact  Silvana Siddali, Ph.D. with any questions.

Previous Symposia Themes

  • 2014: Commemoration of the Restoration of the Jesuit Order
  • 2015: Jesuits and Race
  • 2016: Jesuits and the Arts
  • 2018: Jesuits and the Sciences

International Congress of Medieval Canon Law

The 16th International Congress of Medieval Canon Law will take place at Saint Louis University from July 19 to 25, 2020. This quadrennial week-long conference is the premiere event in the field of medieval canon law. It draws scholars from many countries, including not only medievalists and canonists, but also those who study related fields, such as Western jurisprudence and legal norms, Roman law, ecclesiastical and papal history, theology and biblical exegesis, manuscript studies, and the history of culture, society, and ideas. Over two hundred participants from several continents are expected. Atria Larson (Dept. of Theological Studies) and Steve Schoenig, S.J. (Dept. of History), are the organizers.

The Congress will have papers and panels on a broad range of topics pertaining to medieval canon law and the ius commune (European common law), on themes such as “Texts and Jurisprudence,” “Canon Law and Other Medieval Laws: Comparative Perspectives,” “The Influence of the ius commune on the Western Legal Tradition,” “Canon Law and Local Ecclesiastical History,” “Canon Law in Pastoral Care,” “Canon Law and Other Academic Disciplines,” and possibly also, in light of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s burning of the corpus of medieval canon law, “Canon Law and the Reformation.” Contact  Steven Schoenig, S.J. or Atria Larson, Ph.D.with any questions.

Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction

In February 2020, the Department of History will host The Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction’s biannual conference. With over 200 members based in the U.S. and abroad, FEEGI is one of the world’s leading organizations for the study of late Medieval and Early Modern World and Atlantic history. FEEGI is affiliated with the American Historical Association, has partnerships with the John Carter Brown Library and Huntington Library, and publishes the journal Itinerario through Cambridge University Press.

Members come to FEEGI from a wide range of fields, interests, and perspectives. Some members study Europe, others European colonies overseas. Some focus on European expansion, while others work on powerful kingdoms and empires or small-scale societies around the globe with which Europeans had different kinds of interactions. Members of FEEGI focus on the colonist and the colonized, on the conqueror and the conquered. Some accomplish this by adopting a global perspective while others pursue microhistory. Together, FEEGI’s members look at places and people touched directly and indirectly, benignly or catastrophically, by the process of enhanced global interaction that commenced in the fourteenth century. FEEGI 2020 will be a major event in the intellectual life of SLU. We encourage everybody to attend the conference. Contact Nathaniel Millet with any questions.

1818 Bicentennial Fellowship Project: Gateway Boom Town

Jennifer Popiel, Ph.D., won an 1818 Bicentennial Fellowship from Saint Louis University to develop Gateway Boom Town: 19th Century St. Louis, which is a book to be used in classes that employ the “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy (RTTP). RTTP is an award-winning teaching methodology in which students are assigned roles, typically tied to historical figures and classic texts. Gateway Boom Town will bring this pedagogy into the history of 19th century St. Louis, especially the 1830s and 1840s, when St. Louis was transformed from a French village to an international city. In those decades, the population increased more than ten times; the rapid growth brought complex social problems. These challenges included relations with Native Americans, enslavement, rapid industrialization, immigration, safety and security issues, health care and education, transportation, sanitation – not to mention housing problems, fires and repeated cholera outbreaks. Some of the material in Gateway Boom Town will be drawn from the many histories of St. Louis and the University. Students will understand Saint Louis University and St. Louis better through understanding how figures of the past navigated their worlds. Contact Jennifer Popiel, Ph.D. with any questions.


American History Forum

The American History Forum is a seminar series dedicated to encouraging scholarship, providing professional development and promoting intellectual exchange among graduate history students at SLU. It offers opportunities for students to present and discuss their research, and to build a deeper understanding of new directions in the field.

The American History Forum also features talks by outstanding faculty members and visiting scholars. A chance for students in SLU's American History program to build community and collegiality, the forum helps provide a common frame of reference for American history students and faculty as they pursue diverse research interests. All members of the University community who are interested in American history may participate.

Byzantine Studies Forum

The Byzantine Studies Forum is a venue for the presentation and discussion of current research on the Byzantine empire and the cultural world of late antiquity. The forum features presentations from established scholars and graduate students designed to provoke inquiry and provide a window into those societies. All are welcome to attend and participate in the forum. No prior reading or experience is required.

Crusades Studies Forum

The Crusades Studies Forum at Saint Louis University is an international venue for the presentation of current research, the discussion of recent scholarship and the exploration of new directions in topics relating to the crusades. Participants include those local to the St. Louis region, as well as distinguished scholars from across the globe. All are welcome to attend and participate in the forum.