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UT has launched a new statewide undergraduate experiential learning conference for students open to all fifty-four accredited not-for-profit colleges and universities in Tennessee.

The Tennessee Experiential Learning Symposium, or TELS, is a new annual symposium to showcase experiential learning outcomes through undergraduate student research, creative work, service-learning projects, and study abroad experiences.

TELS LogoExperiential learning takes lessons learned in the classroom and applies that knowledge in a variety of activities including undergraduate research, internships, study abroad, and other creative and professional work experiences.

UT will host the inaugural event from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. October 30 at Hodges Library and other locations around campus. Registration for the event is $40 and includes breakfast, lunch and a book of abstracts.

“The idea of experiential learning is not new; however, the concept is enjoying a resurgence in higher education,” said Marisa Moazen, director of undergraduate research at UT and chair of the TELS planning committee.

Though registration is open to students, faculty, and staff from any college or university, only undergraduate students enrolled in an accredited not-for-profit Tennessee college, university, or community college who have completed a mentored research project, service-learning project, or study abroad experience are eligible to present.

Presenting at a statewide conference allows students the opportunity to communicate their scholarly work to a wider audience, build peer and mentor relationships, and put classroom knowledge into practice—the key element of experiential learning.

“The state of Tennessee will be one of the first states in the nation to host a statewide symposium for students to present their experience and findings and to learn from one another in areas such as undergraduate research, service-learning and study abroad,” said Moazen. “One of the goals of the event is to introduce students to the transformative power experiential learning offers and connect the dots between what students are learning in the classroom to the world around us.”

This fall, UT launched the Experience Learning initiative, intended to transform the educational experience for undergraduate and graduate students by giving them more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, to solve complex real-world problems and to contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The Tennessee Experiential Learning Symposium is an interdisciplinary symposium. One of its most positive aspects is the cross-platform exposure to research, creative activity, service-learning, or study abroad experiences centered on themes of interest.

To highlight the interdisciplinary focus, each oral and poster session will be organized around these themes: culture, heritage and the creative economy; business and enterprise; governance and society; sustainability, agriculture, and the environment; improving lives and communities; logic and reasoning; and science, technology and society.


Erin Chapin (865-974-2187,