Established through the generosity of Wellesley College trustee emerita Estelle “Nicki” Newman Tanner ’57, the Tanner Conference celebrates the relationship between the liberal arts classroom and student engagement in the world beyond the Wellesley College campus. Each year on the day of the conference, classes are canceled so that the entire Wellesley community can gather to learn from students about their participation in and learning from internships, civic engagement, study abroad and other opportunities. Presenters have the chance to reflect upon their experiences and share their insights and growth with their peers, while attendees learn about the ways in which such experiences can complement the classroom experience and clarify one’s interests and goals. Many students describe presenting at and attending Tanner as a highlight of their Wellesley experience.
"It is an ongoing privilege to see, hear, and learn from remarkable Wellesley students who exemplify the difference that smart and thoughtful women can make in the world."
"I attended as many Tanner sessions as I could my first year, eager to learn more about the many ways learning can extend outside the classroom, especially at a liberal arts institution like Wellesley. Now, after finishing my own internship, I’ve applied to the Tanner this fall. My aspiration is to show all the wonderful learning opportunities I’ve been given and share my internship experience and knowledge with the Wellesley College community, with the hope that it inspires someone, just as Tanner did for me."
"Tanner helped me to confront many aspects of my summer experience that I hadn't given much thought to and the process of crafting my presentation from those reflections gave rise to a senior year in which I was able to be much more focused and intentional about my future goals."
"Tanner is about integrating what you learn about society with what you learn from society, what you learn with the heart with what you learn with the head, and what you learn at Wellesley with what you learn away from Wellesley. It is about how we learn for life."
"The Tanner Conference at Wellesley offers more than presentations. After leafing through the booklet with descriptions of each presentation, I was able to attend some of the ones that stuck out to me. However, there was no way for me to go to every presentation that interested me. After the day of the conference, I reached out to each student who had a Tanner that interested me and asked to meet over a meal or coffee. I was able to meet up with almost everyone I reached out to. As a first-year student, it was remarkable to me that upperclass-students were so willing to share their experiences with me."
Application deadline is Wednesday September 9, 2020 at noon.
Eligibility To present at the Tanner Conference is to partake in a special Wellesley tradition. All students who have had interned, volunteered, performed off-campus research, studied abroad or otherwise engaged in experiential learning beyond the classroom are welcome to submit an application, whether or not they received Wellesley funding, credit or other support for their experience. Students are allowed to participate on only one Tanner presentation and may apply as an individual or in a panel with a six person maximum.
Tanner Advisors All student applicants to Tanner must have a Wellesley Tanner advisor to review your abstract and help you prepare for your presentation. Who should you choose to serve in this role? The best choice is often someone familiar with your off-campus engagement, your interests and your goals. Ask a faculty or staff member who is aware of your experience and can offer you time and support. Your College Career Mentor and Career Community Advisor, based in Career Education, are also happy and available to serve in this capacity.
Abstract All applicants (individuals or panels) must submit an abstract of up to 150 words that answers the following questions:
What was the focus of your off-campus experience?
What did this experience teach you about yourself and the world?
How does this experience relate to your past or future academic, social and/or professional goals?
What do you hope those who attend your presentation will learn?
The best presentations have a clear focus and an obvious sense of purpose, as well as substantive content.
Provide framing. Be sure to begin by briefly orienting your listener to the project and your role in it.
Be selective. Focus on one or two points about the work you did and the field you participated in, and illustrate these points with concrete examples and detail. If you are working with a panel of presenters, plan ways to distribute your focus amongst the panel members, and to make connections between the different approaches each of you takes. Consider the following questions to find your focus:
What is the most significant aspect of this project that you want to convey?
What was the most surprising and unexpected aspect of the work you did?
How did your perceptions of the field, work, topic, or people shift as a result of your experience?
What did you learn about your field?
What did you learn about yourself?
Plan to use your presentation to further your own learning. What do you want to record and remember about this experience? What do you want to be sure you don’t forget? How can you use the fact of presenting at Tanner to build shape around your off-campus learning? What about your own learning will be meaningful to others?
Consider how this experience connects to your work at Wellesley. How has the experience challenged you to rethink what you learned in your coursework, or shed new light on your earlier coursework? How has it influenced your intellectual interests, your course selection, the way you participate in class or study for class? What implications does this experience have for your future direction and/or career goals? What did you learn about yourself? Your ‘connections’ may infuse the body of your talk—but you may also find it useful to use “connections-to-Wellesley” as a way to conclude the presentation.
Attend the public speaking workshop offered by the PLTC for help planning and practicing your presentation.
Time your practice session. Each session is 70 minutes in length. If you are part of panel, please time your presentation so that all panelists have equal opportunity to speak.
Check out the room beforehand, and give yourself hands-on practice with any A-V equipment you plan to use. Email firstname.lastname@example.org ahead of time for any special technology needs.
Plan ample time to work with your advisor and your fellow panel presenters.
Tanner advisors support students as they prepare their presentations. Every student applicant to the Tanner Conference is asked to identify a faculty or staff member to perform this role. Advisors review and approve abstracts, help students to plan their presentations, and may ask the student to present a “dress rehearsal” of their Tanner presentation, allowing for feedback and guidance on substance, structure and presentation style. The advisor can provide advice on the content of the presentation and offer suggestions for making the presentation engaging and effective. Students can benefit a great deal from advisor advice on how much material to present; what to focus on; how to make use of visuals and PowerPoint slides; and how to deliver their presentation. Tanner advisors are also important audience members on the day of the Tanner Conference.
What are the characteristics of a great Tanner presentation? Watch the 4 Tips for Tanner video.