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Chemistry department draws national attention for regional symposium

Students and staff from across the United States will travel to Denton as Texas Woman’s University hosts the SENCER Center for Innovation-Southwest Spring 2019 Regional Symposium this Friday, Feb. 1.

Though SENCER is known for its foundation in science, students from all disciplines are encouraged to attend the event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Ann Stuart Science Complex. This year’s symposium focuses on Democracy, Civic Engagement and Student Learning.

“I think that this is a rather unique theme for a symposium that’s being partially sponsored by a chemistry department, “ TWU Professor and Chair Dr. Richard Sheardy said.

As the chemistry program’s focus and emphasis on civic engagement has grown, they have evolved to where they are now by integrating democracy into their advocacy.

“The whole idea about civic engagement is really to strengthen democracy,” Sheardy said. “If you get students involved in the local issues, not only does civic engagement help their learning because they become excited about it, but because it makes them better citizens that are actively participating in their community.”

What started as an advocacy for the civic responsibility of chemists has now branched out into a multi-department, region-wide endeavor. Professors from Belhaven University, Santa Clara University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Worchester Polytechnic Institute and University of Montana join some of TWU’s very own to present at this year’s symposium.

“I think it’s going to be groundbreaking because we’re bringing in people from different disciplines to talk about student learning and social responsibility,” Sheardy said.

 Contributing to this, professors from history, government, business and sociology are also jumping on the bandwagon for a civically responsible democracy.

“If you know something, then you might care about it, and if you care about it, then you might do something about it,” Sheardy said. “Democracy is a three-legged stool that needs a knowledgeable public that care enough to do something about it.”

Getting the public to practice a cycle of responsibility through knowing, doing and caring is a goal that the chemistry department will share at the symposium.

“It’s all of us,” Co-Director Nasrin Kohan said. “As long as you go to college and are in higher education, you have this responsibility for the world you are in.”

Students, faculty and staff are all encouraged to attend. The event is free to participants, but a short online registration is required in order to accommodate and supply enough food for all attendants.

The event, sponsored by the Center for Faculty Excellence, Pioneer Center for Student Excellence, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas Woman’s University, will also be followed by one of Cynthia Maguire’s Wizard Shows at 6 p.m. For any additional questions, contact Dr. Richard Sheardy at or Nasrin Mirsaleh-Kohan at

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