Regular engagement activities

We’re committed to bringing education about language variation, language change, and linguistic equality to the public.  Below are some examples of public events that we regularly participate in.

MSU Grandparents University

A photo taken in an MSU classroom. MI Diaries team members in green t-shirts are standing with and talking to grandparent participants around some tables.

MSU Grandparents University is an opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren (ages 8-12) to come together for a three-day educational experience while spending time together on the MSU campus in the summer. MSU Sociolinguistics has offered Harry Potter and the Secrets of British English since 2014, and it has frequently been voted one of the top 10 sessions by participants! In 2023, we also offered Diary of a Michigan Kid. Contact Dr Suzanne Wagner if you’re interested in helping out. It’s a lot of fun, so consider helping us to bring linguistics to a new audience!

MSU Science Festival

The MSU Science Festival is an annual event that attracts people from all over Michigan and beyond. Students and faculty from the Sociolinguistics Lab manned an exhibit in 2022 and 2023 for the MI Diaries project. It’s a great opportunity for you to practice your science communication skills, and to help the general public learn about linguistic variation! If you’re interested in volunteering at the festival, contact the lab directors.

Read more about our 2022 and 2023 exhibits.

Ad hoc engagement activities

Sometimes opportunities just arise for us to talk to the public about sociolinguistics. As with our regular engagement activities, we include our graduate and undergraduate students whenever we can.

2022 East Lansing Public Library family events

In summer and fall of 2022, we ran a session for families called Diary of a Michigan Kid at the East Lansing Public Library. See our reports for the fall and the summer.

2020 College of Arts and Letters Alumni Reunion

On November 11, 2020, students and faculty from the Socio Lab’s MI Diaries project talked to alumni of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University. PI Dr. Betsy Sneller described the research goals of the project. Students Alexis Furkioti, Jack Rechsteiner, Lindsay Moore and Yongqing Ye explained how they manage the project’s social media presence, create interesting question prompts, select the weekly featured diarist stories, and use acoustic software. Co-PI Dr. Suzanne Evans Wagner joined the group for a Q&A with alumni after the presentation. We’re grateful to the former faculty, staff and students who attended our talk, and who asked great questions! Thanks as well to the CAL Development team headed by Christine Radtke.

To support faculty and student research in the Sociolinguistics Lab, you can donate to the MSU Linguistics program’s gift fund.

2016 Linguistics and Languages Alumni Reunion

MSU sociolinguists participated in the 2016 Department of Linguistics and Languages alumni reunion event on April 9. We were represented in the morning session by Chenchen Xu, who gave a 5-minute talk about Chinese dialects and how to map people’s perceptions of them. In the afternoon, Suzanne Wagner, Mingzhe Zheng, Alex Mason and Bethany Dickerson gave a tour of the Sociolinguistics Lab. We invited people to take part in some recording sessions and other activities.