The 100th anniversary of World War I will be the focus of two presentations planned for the Gockel International Symposium on Tuesday, March 31, in Taylor Performing Arts Center.

Formerly a centerpiece of the themed semester each fall, the event has been moved to the spring semester.

“We felt that the Gockel Symposium was beginning to become lost, somewhat, in all of the programming for the themed semesters,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies. “By moving it to the spring, it will become more of a stand-alone event that should distinguish it even further.”

Christopher Capozzola

Christopher Capozzola

Dr. Christopher Capozzola, an associate professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will present “Before the Doughboys: Americans Respond to a World at War” at 9:30 a.m.

Capozzola’s presentation will focus on how Americans responded to the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914-15. Despite President Woodrow Wilson’s request that Americans remain “neutral in thought and in action,” the population responded actively to the war. They watched events across the Atlantic and along the Mexican border; they established the largest charitable relief effort to that date in human history; and some joined the war as soldiers, nurses and ambulance drivers.

“Long before the doughboys left for France, Americans had transformed the role of the United States in the world,” Capozzola said.

Brian Grubbs, director of the statewide World War I digitization project, “Over There: Missouri and the Great War,” will speak on “Memory & Legacy: Missouri in the Great War” at 11 a.m.

Brian Grubbs

Brian Grubbs

Grubbs’ talk will center on the more than 156,000 Missourians who served in the first World War. He will discuss the legacy of the war, reasons why the state has remembered their service and sacrifice much differently since the 1920s, as well as efforts for commemoration in the digital age.

Dr. Steve Wagner, a professor of history at MSSU, will serve as the moderator for the symposium. The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions of both speakers.

Harry Gockel, a longtime faculty member at Joplin Junior College and Missouri Southern, and his wife, Berniece, left an estate which provides funds for MSSU to hold the annual symposium focusing on international affairs.