Identity Project of Notre Dame prepares for annual Edith Stein Conference
Alexandra Muck | Thursday, February 15, 2018
Under the theme “Even Unto Death: Embracing the Love of the Cross,” the Identity Project of Notre Dame is hosting its 13th annual Edith Stein Conference, the largest student-run conference on campus. The event will start Friday at 1 p.m. and end Saturday with a banquet starting at 6:15 p.m. in McKenna Hall.
Co-chair and senior Molly Weiner said the conference embraces a unique mix of academic and personal topics. The speakers range from professors at Notre Dame to students from other colleges across the country.
“It’s a mix between a lecture from a professor, and then the next talk will be a self-help — this was my experience, this is how to change this part of your life,” she said.
The event will feature two keynote lectures and various other talks on a range of topics relating to identity and relationships, Weiner said.
“The conference in general was made for an opportunity for people on campus to come together and talk about topics related to relationships and friendship and personal identity and dignity that kind of isn’t really covered on campus because we’re more focused on our academics, and if we are in our friend group, sometimes we’re scared to talk about certain topics,” she said.
Weiner said the conference tries to focus on the needs of students.
“We do talk about things like dating, discernment, what you want to do with your life, sometimes how student life can be difficult,” she said.
Junior Theresa Gallagher, who is in charge of fundraising, said the conference is relevant to students in the sense that it discusses issues that are directly applicable to their lives.
“It just changes the way you think about relationships when all of the sudden you hear a talk about the cross as a gift of love,” she said. “It provides a space to hear those reflections, to think about them, to talk about them with other people, and it transforms the way you look at your everyday life. I’m not thinking about these things every single minute of every single day, but to have this place where it can provide that lens to see your whole life, your whole experience, in a different way.”
For club president and junior Emily Hirshorn, the best parts of the conference are outside the formal sessions.
“My favorite times are in between all the talks when there’s food out and students come together and really get to foster meaningful conversations about the speakers we just heard,” she said.
While registration for the conference is open, Weiner said students can choose to attend the talks they want without registering in advance. She said the club itself is a continuation of the conversation at the conference, and Hirshorn said the club provides a lot of flexibility to discuss different topics.
“It’s all about fostering conversations that matter,” Hirshorn said.
Weiner said she began her role in April of last year and brainstormed topics over the summer. She began to book speakers and logistics in September.
“It is a very difficult task to do something like this, but it’s worth every minute of it,” she said.
Hirshorn said the conference is particularly important in that it encourages students to learn how to approach certain problems in life.
“If we really take the time to learn how to approach difficult subjects, especially in light of the Catholic faith that a lot of us share, that can have a really transformative power,” she said. “… Suffering, in particular, is a topic I think we all struggle with in different forms, especially when it seems undeserved.”