Open Books - Open Minds 2023 Student Conference

Cover of the book "The Vanishing Half"
Rhode Island College Impact

Come out and support the research and creative work of RIC students on Wednesday, April 19, beginning at 9:15 a.m.

One of the biggest showcases of student research on campus – the Open Books - Open Minds (OBOM) Student Conference, will be held on Wednesday, April 19, based on this year’s common book, “The Vanishing Half.”

“The benefit of having a common book is to bring the RIC community together around a shared subject,” says OBOM Co-Chair and Associate Professor of English Brandon Hawks. “Over the years, the common book at RIC has been at the center of important conversations about technology, global migration, race and racism, gender and sexual identities, and life changes that many of our students find themselves facing in college.”

Written by Brit Bennett, “The Vanishing Half” is a multigenerational family saga about identical twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white. This New York Times best-seller is a brilliant exploration of the issue of colorism and the act of “passing” as white.

RIC students, across a wide range of disciplines, have engaged in research inspired by “The Vanishing Half” throughout the academic year. The OBOM Student Conference is a chance for the entire campus community to see the culmination of their research.

First-year transfer student and English major Craig Cordis focused his research on the identity aspect of “The Vanishing Half.” “I found it to be the most interesting theme, and the most applicable to our lives,” he says. “What I intend to bring out in my presentation is how culture and our own choices shape our identity. We see a lot of identity confusion in the younger characters in this novel. That confusion is what I'm looking to expound on.”

Another first-year transfer student, Hayley Goncalo, who’s majoring in medical imaging, said writing on this topic has been eye opening.

“We, as a community, should never make anyone feel like they cannot be themselves,” she says. “Working on this topic emphasized for me how important it is to be there for others, to accept people for who they are and, most importantly, to continue to be me. No one should have to lie to fit in and no one should have to face bullying for being themselves.”

The entire campus community is encouraged to come out and support the research and creative work of RIC students, many of whom will have their first experience presenting to an informed, supportive audience outside the classroom.

Student-led panel discussions will run throughout the day in Alger 110. Events begin at 9:15 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. A keynote consisting of theatrical performances related to “The Vanishing Half” will take place at 12:45 p.m.

Here is the full list of 2023 OBOM student presentations and times.