AUA Students Hold Online Conference on Trust3 min read
YEREVAN, Armenia — May 4-6, AUA students hosted a three-day zoom conference titled Navigating Trust ‘22, as part of the undergraduate Trust course taught by Dr. Theofanis Varvoglis. The conference spotlighted the significance of trust in different aspects of life, bringing together students and speakers from different spheres, including psychology, technology, business, and the media to share their expertise and add compelling insights into the discussion.
The conference initiator Dr. Varvoglis says that “by building trust in others, our students build trust in themselves.” He adds, “Trust is an issue that relates to everyone, everywhere, so I thought it would be nice to have a conference on the topic. Recognizing its importance, the students eagerly embraced it. And I should say that they organized the conference in a very professional and creative manner, and with dedication.”
Syuzanna Markosyan (BAB ‘23), one of the organizing students remarks, “Trust is a missing component both in business and in our lives. As the organizers of the conference, we all shared the idea that trust and transparency of communication are the cornerstones of any good relationship. Organizing the conference was not just an assignment for us, but a step forward on the path of raising awareness in our society.”
The students divided the tasks of organizing the conference among themselves. The core team comprising of Ani Vrshikyan (BAEC ‘24), Syuzanna Markosyan (BAB ‘23), Gevorg Rashoyan (BSES ‘24), Rosie Isoyan (BAB ‘23), and Lena Sahakyan (BAEC ‘24) researched, gathered information, and used their networks to ensure that the conference would be a success. They were enthusiastic about organizing the event and worked hard to see their ideas come to fruition. “This was the first-of-its-kind conference held in Armenia. We actually had a fun time throughout, brainstorming, doing research, coming up with a name for the conference, designing a logo, and so on. Being students of different ages, from different backgrounds, and in different majors, we all enjoyed collaborating with one another,” says Syuzanna, adding that “It was also a pleasure to work with Dr. Varvoglis outside the classroom.”
The guest speakers of the conference were selected based on their expertise in their respective fields and interest in the concept of trust. “They were happy to make their contribution to our endeavor,” affirms Syuzanna, adding that “each of the experts approached the concept of trust from their own field of study, coming up with interesting and relevant presentations.”
The first day of the conference featured Margarita Varvogli, a licensed psychologist and a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the American Psychological Association (APA). She talked about building trust in relationships. Varvogli’s talk was followed by student presentations on their findings from research on “Parent-Child Trust Issues,” and “Cheating and Trust in Relationships.”The second day of the conference focused on technologies and business, featuring Dr. Armen Inants, an AI professional currently working as a senior AI/ML research engineer at Morningstar, Paris, France. Dr. Inants’s presentation titled “In AI We Trust” was followed by student presentations covering a range of topics, including “AI in Healthcare,” “Trust in the Workplace: the Uber Case,” and “Trust in Brands.”
The final day of the conference addressed trust in the media. The guest speaker of the session, journalist Arshaluys Barseghyan, who is a close observer of the media environment in Armenia and an advocate of fact-checking and media literacy, talked about building trust in the media. The student presentations that followed discussed “War News Coverage: the Vietnam Experience,” and “The Media Coverage of Covid-19 and the Vaccines.”
The conference was attended by 160 participants over the three days comprising not only students, but also faculty from AUA and from universities abroad. “The presentations were excellent. I received positive feedback from many people,” remarks Dr. Varvoglis.
Summing up her experience with the project, Syuzanna advises her peers, “Whenever you want to start a project, try to understand if you believe in the idea that you want to pursue and use your courses to gain as much knowledge as possible. Put your best self in it, because the results are definitely worth it.”
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.