SCI-Southwest is committed to improving science education at all levels. To this end, we have developed a number of SENCER courses: Sustainable Physical Science, Earth Science in the Context of Natural Disasters, Introduction to Environmental Chemistry, Climate Change, and Water in a Changing World.
We have also developed a transdisciplinary certificate program titled: Science, Society and Sustainability and have created two additional SENCER courses to support the certificate: Conversations in Community Sustainability and Building Sustainable Communities.
Finally, we are incorporating SENCER Ideals into our chemistry/biochemistry undergraduate and graduate program through the development of the dual poster project. Here, students present their research with both a technical poster and a public poster. The public poster is designed to explain the research to lay people and discuss the broader impacts of the project.
In addition to the above initiatives, we have sponsored symposia at national meetings (American Chemical Society and the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education) to inform other educators about SENCER. We have one book published from the proceedings of one of these symposia and another forthcoming. We have also formed a partnership with the Mississippi River Field Institute of the National Audubon Society to monitor the environment associated with the Mississippi River watershed.
SCI-Southwest initiatives are open to participants around the United States but are primarily designed to address the needs and interests of individuals in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.
About the Host Institution: Texas Woman’s University
Texas Woman’s University is the host institution for the SCI-Southwest. Established in 1901, Texas Woman’s University (TWU) is unique as the nation’s largest university primarily for women with enrollment for this academic year exceeding 14,000: over 90% of these students are women and some 44% are from underrepresented groups. As such, Texas Woman’s University has a strong commitment to educating female and other ethnically diverse students, both in the state of Texas and nationally. The primary mission of TWU is to empower students by inspiring intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning, embracing scholarship and research, developing leadership and personal responsibility, and promoting diversity and respect for all individuals.
Democracy, Civic Engagement and Student Learning–A Regional Symposium at Texas Woman’s University
On Friday, February 1, the SENCER Center of Innovation Southwest (SCI-SW) and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) hosted the Fourth Annual SCI-SW SENCER Regional Symposium in the Ann Stuart Science Complex. The theme of this year’s symposium aimed to link student learning, civic engagement and democracy. It brought speakers and experts in different disciplines from around the US and TWU to discuss together our roles in helping students develop a sense of civic virtue so they can build a thriving democracy for themselves and future generations.
The table below reports the number of attendees who registered for the meeting. Of the 92 total, 68 were from TWU and 24 were from other institutions. Brookhaven University sent 6, Texas A&M Texarkana sent 4 and UNT sent 3. Also in attendance was Walter Staveloz, Director International Relationships from the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) located in Washington, DC. His interest is in promoting citizen science at the international level through informal science educators at science and technology centers and museums of natural history. He is also very interested in collaborating with SCI-SW and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on this project.
The event kicked off in the morning with a poster session. There were ten posters describing the work of students and faculty that fell within the realm of the symposium theme. Two of the posters were presented by faculty from other institutions (Dallas County Community College District and Worcester Polytechnic Institute).
The first plenary session opened with welcoming remarks by Dr. Alan Utter (Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, TWU). Dr. Richard Sheardy (Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, TWU) followed with a brief presentation of how we came to the theme for this year’s symposium through our involvement in SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), the AAC&U (Association of American Colleges & Universities) and the Citizens First! symposia at the national meetings of the ACS (American Chemical Society).
The first speaker, Dr. Reid Bishop (Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, Belhaven University, Jackson, MS) spoke about exploring democratic choice in an undergraduate curriculum based in service, sustainability and civic engagement. Our second speaker, Dr. Jessica Gullion (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Work, TWU) discussed her work with giving students hands-on experience coupled to research and instruction on working with community groups.
After, Dr. Gullion’s presentation, Chancellor Carine Feyten stopped by to say hello to the attendees. She expressed how this symposium reflected the educational mission and values of TWU. Following a short break, the event continued with two concurrent sessions. “Citizen Science” featured presentations by Dr. Sheardy, Dr. Garon Smith (Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry, University of Montana, Missoula, MT) and Dr. Amy Shachter (Senior Associate Provost for Research and Faculty Affairs, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA). “Democratic Engagement” featured talks by Dr. Timothy Hoye (Professor, Department of History and Government, TWU); Dr. David Rylander (Professor, College of Business, TWU) and Dr. Karen Oates (Professor, Department of Chemistry, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA).
The day concluded with the second plenary session which was opened up with a few words from Dr. Jennifer Martin (Executive Vice Provost, TWU). In the first plenary of the session, Dr. Cathy Middlecamp (Professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI) spoke about how addressing basic sustainability issues opens the door to civic engagement. Our final speaker of the day, Dr. Stephen Carroll (Professor, Department of English, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA) discussed the issue of assessing citizenship.
To finish the day, G Wiz (aka, Dr. Garon Smith) and the Mistress of Potions (Ms. Cynthia Maguire, Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, TWU) presented a wizard show. The show featured magic tricks based on actual chemical principles. Thus, the “magic” was explained in terms of a chemical reaction or other phenomena.
This symposium was organized by Dr. Nasrin Mirsaleh Kohan (Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, TWU) and Dr. Richard Sheardy. This symposium would not have been possible without the generous support of the TWU Center for Faculty Excellence (Dr. Jörg Waltje) and the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence (Dr. Joshua Adams and Mr. Kurt Krause).
We had the SCI-SW Board of Directors Meeting on Saturday. In attendance were Co-Directors Cynthia Maguire and Nasrin Mirsaleh Kohan, TWU liaison Richard Sheardy and board members Shaumarie Tanner (Biology, TWU), Cathy Middlecamp, Reid Bishop, Stephen Carroll and Garon Smith. This discussion focused on evaluation of this year’s symposium, and continuation and funding of future annual symposia. We also discussed the Mississippi River Project, our NSF proposal under review and the proposed creation of an air sampling center at TWU.
9 Steps to Designing a SENCER Model in 1 Hour
Presented by Stephen Carroll and Eliza Reilly
Strategic Local Partnerships for Engaging Undergraduate Science Students in Opportunities of Civic Importance
Presented by G. Reid Bishop
More Ideas to Build on the Zoo Project
Presented by G. Reid Bishop
Animal Movement Study
Video by Belhaven University Students
High Impact STEM Learning and the Humanities
Presented by Eliza Reilly and Stephn Carroll
Campus Compact of the Mountain West
Presented by CCMW
Undergraduate Research and Civic Engagement
Presented by Steve Bachofer, Richard Sheardy, and Cynthia Maguire
High Impact STEM Education: A SENCER Campus Compact Partnership
Presented by Amy Shachter
Track 3: Sustainability Description and Overview
Presented by Amy Shachter and Catherine Kleier
A SENCER Model: Chemistry and the Environment
Presented by Amy Shachter
Strategies for Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum
Presented by Amy Shachter
Ms. Cynthia Maguire
Dr. Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan
Dr. Brian Bilyeu
Dr. Reid Bishop
Mr. Ron Chandler
Dr. Kristen Kulinowski
Dr. Catherine Middlecamp