Symposium Synopsis: List of Speakers Announced for Sept. 14-16 Hancock Symposium

This article was updated on Aug. 6, 2021, to include an additional evening of activities.

Hancock Symposium 2021 is just around the corner — Sept. 14-16, to be exact — so be sure to mark your calendars!

This year’s theme, Beyond 2020: Finding Opportunity in an Age of Disruption, offers an exciting lineup of more than 20 speakers, including U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, World Champion and Olympic wrestler J’den Cox, and one of Pfizer’s leading experts on vaccines, technology, and innovation.

Look forward to discussions of many pandemic-related topics, from overcoming educational gaps through the arts to understanding race relations through Civil War history to the rise in online gaming communities. Recognizing the psychological toll of 2020, the Westminster community will also find opportunities to explore ways to restore our health, including studies of sleep, mindful eating, and art therapy.

The complete list of speakers gives a detailed rundown of who and what to expect during Westminster’s signature annual event for all students, faculty, and staff. The two days of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations by noted experts promises to provide the campus with an in-depth liberal arts experience, where you will be encouraged to connect the dots between academic disciplines.

Instead of endorsing a single point of view, the Hancock Symposium embraces ideas from many different traditions and disciplines in the common pursuit of new knowledge. Topics also grow from the interests expressed by students, faculty, and staff.

“Each year, we strive to achieve a fine balance of perspectives, range of interests, and diversity of speakers,” says Carolyn Perry, Symposium organizer. “It is our hope that everyone finds something that challenges their thinking, as well as something that they connect with personally. We’re feeling very good about achieving these goals this year.”

Classes during the two-day event will be canceled so everyone can attend the presentations. This year’s list of speakers highlights a number of Westminster alumni:

  • Shauna Aminath, ‘08
  • R. “Flanny” Flanigan, ‘12
  • Amy Laurel Fluker, PhD, ‘08
  • Colin Kerr, ‘06
  • Janice Mathews-Gordon, ‘81
  • Hassaan Sipra, ’11 ΦΔΘ
  • Mahogany Thomas, ‘13
  • Donald Wood, ‘00 ΣΧ

Watch for more information in the weeks leading up to the Hancock Symposium!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Carolyn Perry at or Dr. Jeremy Straughn at

The Hancock Symposium is funded in perpetuity by a generous gift from alumnus David Hancock, ’67 FIJI, of Kansas City, MO.

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.