General Information

This symposium is sponsored annually to promote professional development of undergraduate students in the social sciences. MTSU students from various departments as well as students from other southeastern states participate in paper presentations.
In addition to paper presentations, the annual symposium also consists of keynote speakers, panel discussions and often films.
Every year a central theme is selected by the organizing committee. Past themes include immigration and refugees, voting rights, and college debt.  Students are allowed to submit paper presentations on any subject of interest, not only the theme. The deadline for submission is February 13th. 


From the Ice Age to the Anthropocene:

Human Response to Global Change

The Anthropocene refers to the current geological period in which human activity has influenced and is influencing climate and the environment, as well as questioning the dividing lines between “humans” and “nature” and “humans” and “technology”.  The Undergraduate Social Science Symposium is an opportunity for scholarly dialogue on the global impacts humans have made on the planet. The global changes in the Anthropocene have already resulted in an increase in natural disasters, polar ice cap melt, glacier melt, sea level rise, the Red Tide, and climate refugees. The most recent 2018 United Nations report on climate change indicates that since the late 19th century, humans have caused the earth to warm by 1 degree Celsius, and climate scientists believe we will surpass 1.5 degrees of warming by 2040.  This change in temperature will set in motion global tipping points leading to conflict, wars, and migration at a level and pace we have never seen as well as permanent and devastating changes to ecosystems and biodiversity.

 How we will deal with these changes, and where the displaced will go, are at the center of this conversation.

 Students are invited to submit presentation proposals to MTSU’s annual Tennessee Undergraduate Social Science Symposium. This year’s theme concerns the relationship between humans and the natural world; however, papers on all topics are welcome. If you are interested in presenting, please submit the title of your paper or poster, your university affiliation, and your contact information (email address and mailing address) to:

The deadline for submission is Wednesday, February 13, 2019. There are no fees for student participants presenting papers. Presentations will be organized into topical panels and will be moderated by a faculty member or graduate student. Presentation time slots are typically 12-15 minutes long.

Prizes will be awarded for the top three undergraduate papers submitted. To enter the paper competition and be considered for a cash award, please submit complete papers (not to exceed 25 pages, double-spaced) to Kimberly Leifker ( no later than Wednesday, February 13th.


The event typically spans 2-3 days in either the fall or spring semester each year.  This event is traditionally held on MTSU campus, either in the James Union building or the new Student Union building.  However, other institutions are welcome to host the event in collaboration with MTSU. The symposium this calendar year is February 27th and February 28th, 2019

The symposium is open to students from all colleges irrespective of major.  The State of Tennessee values contributions from across the community and participation from other southeastern states.  As this event is an undergraduate symposium, graduate students may participate but advice must be sought from a professor or faculty member prior to registration. 

The symposium is a free event and students can enter to win cash prizes for best paper.  Please note - papers must be submitted by the specified deadline in order to be judged. 

Prizes will be awarded for the top threee undergraduate papers submitted.  To enter the paper competition and to be considered for a cash award, please submit complete papers (not to exceed 25 pages, double-spaced) to Kimberly Leifker ( no later than Wednesday, February 13th. 

Please contact the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at MTSU for further information, Dr. Ashleigh McKinzie (, or Dr. Andrew Wyatt ( 

Mailing Address:  Department of Sociology & Anthropology
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 East Main Street, Box 10
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Main Office: Todd Hall 342/344
Telephone: (615) 898-2508
Fax: (615) 898-5427

Email address:

Submission and Registration