published February 7, 2013

Growing Texas SCEWestNet Node To Be Represented at Washington Symposium

By Amanda Moodie, NCSCE

This article is the second in a monthly series featuring updates on current activities from each of the seven nodes of the SCEWestNet (Science and Civic Engagement Western Network) project. The SCEWestNet project, funded by the W. M. Keck Foundation, is a two-year initiative focused on connections and curriculum development across 17 states of the West. Individual nodes are made up of at least three partner institutions and one lead institution in seven regions through the Western United States. In this issue, we feature information from the Texas node, led by Dr. Richard D. Sheardy, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas Woman's University.

The 'Lone Star Node' (as they named themselves at the planning meeting at SSI 2012) has recently developed partnerships with faculty members at two institutions, the University of North Texas and Austin College.

The University of North Texas, one of the largest universities in the state of Texas, is located in Denton, close to the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolis. With 36,000 students, UNT identifies itself as "a student-centered public research university" that "harnesses the power of ideas through a culture of learning based on diverse viewpoints, interdisciplinary endeavors, creativity and disciplined excellence." With a strong commitment to civic engagement, UNT's "students and dedicated scholars and artists collaborate with... local and global communities in the creation, integration, application and dissemination of knowledge."

Austin College, situated in Sherman, Texas, is a ~1350 student, private, liberal arts institution founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under its original name and charter. Austin's president, Marjorie Hass, writes, "We have long occupied a special niche as the small liberal arts college with an expansive worldview. It is no wonder that we are the nation's top college in the participation rate for study abroad programs." The College has recently announced that its 2013 Austin College Posey Leadership Award will be Salman Khan, founder and executive director of the Khan Academy.

Nodal leader Dick Sheardy reports that Andy Carr, associate professor of Chemistry at Austin is currently revising his General Chemistry laboratories and coursework. About UNT, Dick says, 'I recently met with Alana (and folks from the Environmental Education, Science and Technology group at the University of North Texas to discuss the SENCER project in general and the SCEWestNet project specifically. Alana will attend the NCSCE Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session this March, where she will present an update on her projects.'

In addition to Alana's attendance at the NCSCE Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session, Texas Woman's University will be represented by several additional faculty, including Cynthia Maguire. Cynthia's poster "Sharing Your Science," will demonstrate the dual poster method of presenting science to the public and "Ban the Bottle" will highlight the work of TWU students to decrease the use of single-use plastic waters bottles on campus and in the community. Alana will share her poster "Contemporary Biology for Artists" to show the design of a biology course required for art majors, as well as "Sustainable Schools Program: Informal Education Through Municipal Partnerships" to discuss the collaboration between the City of Denton, Texas, Solid Waste Department and the Denton Independent School District for pre K-12 education about recycling.

Finally, Sheardy notes that he has been contacted by members of the Oklahoma Campus Compact group that participated in the Strategic Synergies team at SSI 2012. Dick will be meeting with the Oklahoma group in early March at a meeting hosted by Oklahoma State University.