Engaged Learning

Learn more about social entrepreneurship at the 2015 SMU Social Innovation Forum Tuesday, April 7

SMU Social Innovation Forum 2015SMU will host an opportunity to learn from and network with experts in social entrepreneurship at its 4th annual Social Innovation Forum and Expo from 2-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7 in the Owen Arts Center.

The event, presented by SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Hegi Family Career Development Center, will feature two panel discussions with a dozen experts who are developing solutions to pressing social issues. The panels will be led by Trey Bowles, adjunct lecturer at the Meadows School and co-founder and CEO of The Dallas Entrepreneur Center.

Panelists will include representatives from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Warby Parker, Hari Mari, Social Impact Architects and other leading Dallas organizations and social entrepreneurs.

The discussions will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall, 2130 Owen Arts Center, followed by a networking reception and Social Impact Expo from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Bob Hope Theatre lobby.

The expo, which is co-sponsored by SMU’s Engaged Learning office, will allow participants to network with panelists, visit with social enterprises, entrepreneurs and nonprofits in the DFW region, sample products, and learn about jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities that have a positive impact on the community. Expo participants include Goodwill Industries, CitySquare Americorps, Akola Project and many others.

Admission is free; advance registration is requested. Social Innovation Forum attendees can register online.

For more information, contact Abigail Smith, 214-768-3425.

Research: Whale fossil provides key to unlock date of East Africa’s mysterious uplift

A 17 million-year-old Turkana ziphiid beaked whale fossil from the Great Rift Valley, East AfricaPaleontologists have used a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa’s mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the Ziphiidae family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at a elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya’s harsh desert region and is the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent, said SMU vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs.

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained. Determining ancient land elevation is very difficult, but the whale provides one near sea level.

“It’s rare to get a paleo-elevation,” Jacobs said, noting only one other in East Africa, determined from a lava flow.

At the time the whale was alive, it would have been swimming far inland up a river with a low gradient ranging from 24 to 37 meters over more than 600 to 900 kilometers, said Jacobs. He is co-author of a study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that provides the first constraint on the start of uplift of East African terrain from near sea level.

“The whale was stranded up river at a time when east Africa was at sea level and was covered with forest and jungle,” Jacobs said. “As that part of the continent rose up, that caused the climate to become drier and drier. So over millions of years, forest gave way to grasslands. Primates evolved to adapt to grasslands and dry country. And that’s when – in human evolution – the primates started to walk upright.”

Identified as a Turkana ziphiid, the whale would have lived in the open ocean, like its modern beaked cousins. Ziphiids, still one of the ocean’s top predators, are the deepest diving air-breathing mammals alive, plunging to nearly 10,000 feet to feed, primarily on squid.

In contrast to most whale fossils, which have been discovered in marine rocks, Kenya’s beached whale was found in river deposits, known as fluvial sediments, said Jacobs, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The whale, probably disoriented, swam into the river and could not change its course, continuing well inland.

“You don’t usually find whales so far inland,” Jacobs said. “Many of the known beaked whale fossils are dredged by fishermen from the bottom of the sea.”

The beaked whale fossil was discovered in 1964 by J.G. Mead in what is now the Turkana region of northwest Kenya. Mead, an undergraduate student at Yale University at the time, made a career at the Smithsonian Institution, from which he recently retired. Over the years, the Kenya whale fossil went missing in storage.

Jacobs, who was at one time head of the Division of Paleontology for the National Museums of Kenya, spent 30 years trying to locate the fossil. His effort paid off in 2011, when he rediscovered it at Harvard University and returned it to the National Museums of Kenya.

The fossil is only a small portion of the whale, which Mead originally estimated was 7 meters long during its life. Mead unearthed the beak portion of the skull, 2.6 feet long and 1.8 feet wide, specifically the maxillae and premaxillae, the bones that form the upper jaw and palate.

The researchers reported their findings in “A 17-My-old whale constrains onset of uplift and climate change in east Africa” online at the PNAS web site. Besides Jacobs, other authors from SMU are Andrew Lin, Michael Polcyn, Dale Winkler and Matthew Clemens.

From other institutions, authors are Henry Wichura and Manfred R. Strecker, University of Potsdam, and Fredrick K. Manthi, National Museums of Kenya.

Funding for the research came from SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man and the SMU Engaged Learning program.

Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

Super students and Big iDeas take the spotlight during SMU’s 2015 Engaged Learning Week, Jan. 26-30

SMU Engaged Learning Symposium program - photo by Clayton T. SmithSMU’s Engaged Learning Week puts student achievement front and center with an expanded schedule for 2015 – including a business plan competition among the winners in the Fall 2014 Big iDeas Pitch Competition.

Other activities include open houses, exhibitions, performances and presentations from the University’s 2014-15 Engaged Learning Fellows.

This year’s event takes place Jan. 26-30 and is designed to help students learn more about expanding their education outside the classroom, from undergraduate research and community service to professional internships and creative projects.

The week will begin with the Lucky Cup, a free party taking place 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26 in Café 100, Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Hosted by Engaged Learning students and staff, the festivities will include exhibitions and live performances by Engaged Learning seniors – as well as free hot drinks, contests, prizes, photos with Peruna, and celebrity baristas.

SMU Engaged Learning logoThe week’s centerpiece events take place Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 27-29, as graduating Engaged Learning Fellows present their projects. The Engaged Learning Symposium is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. each day in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum.

This year, for the first time, student presentations will be grouped by type, with creative projects leading off on Tuesday, and research and service highlighted on Wednesday and Thursday. The new grouping is designed to make it easier for all undergraduates to schedule their attendance and to support and network with classmates who share similar interests.

Symposium attendees are invited to drop in for any and all of the presentations. Each will be followed by a Q&A, in which the student presenters have the opportunity to talk informally with the audience.

On Friday, Jan. 30, SMU Engaged Learning hosts Big iDeas Demo Day noon-5 p.m. in The CUBE, 600 Expressway Tower, East Campus. The schedule includes a free buffet lunch and the Big iDeas Pitch Competition Winners Fair from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Expressway Tower lobby. Later, the Pitch Competition winners will vie to receive up to $5,000 in project funding in the Business Plan Competition, 2-5 p.m. in The CUBE. Their proposals will be judged by a panel of experts from Executives in Action.

Find a full schedule at the SMU Engaged Learning Week homepage
Check the 2015 schedule of Engaged Learning students and presentations

Six SMU students earn invitations to 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University meeting at University of Miami March 6-8

Clinton Global Initiative University Network logoSix SMU students will share their work on issues affecting their communities and the world during the 8th annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) at the University of Miami March 6-8, 2015.

Former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, will host the CGI U gathering. The 2015 agenda will include sessions on topics ranging from ending illegal wildlife trade, to engaging youth as peacemakers, to harnessing big data to address global challenges.

The event will bring together more than 1,100 college students with innovators, thought leaders, and civically engaged celebrities to address challenges facing their campuses and communities in CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.

Keep up with Clinton Global Initiative University news on Facebook: facebook.com/cgiuniversity

The SMU students who will attend the meeting, and a brief description of their CGI U Commitments to Action:

  • Colton Donica has founded Support for LGBTQ Refugees in Texas, which will provide resources and support targeted to LGBTQ refugees in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
  • Hena Rafiq has created Resources for Resolana, which provides support for women leaving the Dallas County Women’s Jail and will expand to add empowerment and work experience training.
  • Asia Rodgers has founded Art Healing, which uses art to build confidence in formerly trafficked or incarcerated women. She provides access to art classes and events where these women are able to showcase their creative work.
  • Jorawar Virk will create Kripa Care, which is designed to provide medical care to terminally ill and sick female prisoners in the Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
  • Ashley Wali and collaborator Preksha (Priya) Chowdhardy are continuing work on The Nari Project, which distributes crisis kits of clothing, supplies, information and funds to domestic abuse victims as they transition from a critical situation to a place of safety.

> Follow CGI U on Twitter @CGIU

Student attendees have the opportunity to attend plenary and working sessions, as well as other special events covering topics across CGI U’s five focus areas. In addition, they network with their peers, build skills, and identify potential partnerships. Special guests join every CGI U meeting to help student participants gain the skills and knowledge needed to take action on their commitments.

During the last day of the meeting, the students will take part in a Day of Action in the Miami community.

SMU Forum: SMU renews membership in the Clinton Global Initiative University Network

As a member of the CGI University Network of more than 60 colleges and universities that support and mentor Commitments to Action, SMU pledged $10,000 towards student projects as well as travel to the annual meeting.

SMU’s participation in the CGI University Network is a program of the Office of Engaged Learning. Most of the student Commitments to Action selected for the 2015 CGI U meeting began as Engaged Learning projects.

Find more information at the Clinton Global Initiative University homepage

SMU renews membership in the Clinton Global Initiative University Network in 2014

Clinton Global Initiative University Network logoSMU has renewed its membership in the Clinton Global Initiative University Network (CGI U), a growing consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor and provide seed funding to student leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs who are developing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The University is one of more than 40 colleges and universities worldwide who have joined the CGI U Network.

SMU annually provides $10,000 in funding, divided among University students who are selected to pursue CGI U Commitments to Action. The 2015 CGI U meeting takes place at the University of Miami March 6-8.

Commitments to Action, a unique feature of the CGI U model, are new, specific and measurable initiatives that address global challenges across CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.

The University’s CGI U student representatives, Jonathan Hess and Asia Rodgers, are recruiting new participants and will host an Application Party Tuesday, Nov. 18, in advance of the application deadline on Monday, Dec. 1. The CGI U Application Party is from 5 p.m. to midnight in Hughes-Trigg Student Center, Portico BCD.

Hess and Rodgers attended the 2014 CGI U meeting at Arizona State University in March.

SMU’s Engaged Learning staff will mentor the CGI U students as they develop and implement their plans in the coming months. Thirteen of about 2,500 students from more than 80 countries who attended the CGI U meetings in 2013 and 2014 were from SMU.

“CGI U offers a unique opportunity for students to network with their peers as well as with global thought leaders and other experts,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our renewed membership means that SMU students will continue to benefit from this training ground for future world-changers. We are proud to support their goals.”

Since its inaugural meeting in 2008, CGI U has brought together more than 5,500 student leaders from 135 countries and more than 800 schools.  Past speakers include Madeleine Albright, Jack Dorsey, Jimmy Wales, Muhammad Yunus, Hawa Abdi Diblawe, and Jon Stewart. For more information about the meeting, visit www.cgiu.org.

The deadline to apply for CGI U 2015 is Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Students can apply online at www.cgiu.org/apply.

Big iDeas looks for the next big student innovation at the 2014 Pitch Contest Friday, Oct. 31

Big-iDeasWant to see what SMU’s most innovative students are up to? Take a break from Halloween activities and stop by The Big iDeas Pitch Contest on Friday, Oct. 31, 3-5 p.m., at the CUBE, 600 Expressway Tower. 

The contest is an open event for undergraduates with big ideas on how they can make a positive impact in the world. After developing ideas in teams, students pitch their ideas to a panel of judges with backgrounds in innovation and entrepreneurship. Next, judges determine which ideas are “the big ones” based on what is realistic and can be developed in the next three months. The winning teams are eligible to win up to $1,000 to develop prototypes or pilots in preparation for Demo Day in late January 2015.

Click here for the Big iDeas Pitch Contest rules

Launched by SMU Provost Paul Ludden in 2008, Big iDeas inspires and empowers students to not only dream up big ideas, but to make them real. Past winners include:

  • WNSoFF4XFACT: Free Admissions Consulting Team, a non-profit that gives low-income students access to free, individualized mentoring and advice targeting every component of the college application process.
  • Oasis Express, a weekend shuttle service designed to give on-campus students easy access to local, fresh food from SMU to White Rock Lake Farmer’s Market.
  • Reading for a Reason, an annual on-campus read-a-thon that promotes literacy in young children.

For more information contact SMU Big iDeas via email or phone. 214-768-4788.

Calendar Highlights: Oct. 22, 2014

15210Contested Spaces of Early America: The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies presents “Contested Spaces of Early America” Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. The event will celebrate the publication of Contested Spaces of Early Americaan edited collection of scholarly essays supported by the Clements Center and honoring the pioneering work of David J. Weber (1940-2001), former SMU Dedman History Professor. Although this event is free and open to the public, seating is limited. E-mail the Clements Center to RSVP or call 214-768-3684.

Tower Center Monthly Seminar: As part of the Tower Center Monthly SeminarPaul Avery will discuss “Tempting Fate: Interests, Red Lines and Conflict in Nuclear Monopoly.” Avery is a postdoctoral fellow at the SMU Tower Center for Political Studies, who prior to joining the Tower Center was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow in the Security Studies Program at MIT. The seminar will take place Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. in 227 Carr Collins Hall. While the event is free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to RSVP.

Public Lecture on “Jews and Muslims in Christian America”: Sponsored by the Weatherred Memorial Fund and the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, religious historian Charles L. Cohen will discuss “Jews and Muslims in Christian America.” This event will take place Thursday, Oct. 23, 4 p.m., in 100 Hyer Hall. For more information please contact Richard Cogley or Katherine Engel.

Juan Muñoz, Seated Figure Looking Backwards, 1996

Juan Muñoz, Seated Figure Looking Backwards, 1996

Museum Evening Lecture: Led by independent scholar and consultant Charlie Wylie, Meadows Museum presents “Juan Muñoz, Looking Back” Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Bob Smith Auditorium. This lecture will examine Juan Muñoz’s (1953-2001) Seated Figure Looking Backwards (1996), a recent gift from the Barrett Collection.  For more information call 214-768-4677.

Family Weekend 2014: Sponsored by the Student Foundation and organized by the Family Weekend committee, SMU Family Weekend 2014 will take place Oct. 24-26. Family members from across the nation will “Follow the Clues to SMU” for this three-day event to experience campus life. Stay updated with everything Family Weekend by connecting with Student Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Engaged Learning Symposium: SMU’s Fall 2014 Engaged Learning Symposium will feature the work of twenty-five students in research, service, creative and internship programs. The event takes place Friday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

The Unstoried Life: The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute’s “The Situated Self” Annual Fellows Seminar presents University of Texas at Austin Professor Galen Strawson in a discussion of “The Unstoried Life.” Taking place Friday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. in 233 Umphrey Lee Center, this lecture features the question of: “Should ethically serious people seek unity in their lives?” For more information please contact Elizabeth Fielding or visit the DCII webpage.

Product Quality-Proliferation and Differentiation in Export Markets: Assistant Professor Maia Linask from the University of Richmond will present her recent work in the area of industrial organization and international trade. This event will take place Friday, Oct. 24, 2 p.m., in 303 Umphrey Lee Center.  For more information, please visit the Department of Economics homepage.

2014 Engaged Learning Symposium showcases SMU student projects Friday, Oct. 24

SMU Engaged Learning Symposium program - photo by Clayton T. SmithTwenty-five students in research, service, creative and internship programs from across campus will talk about their work during Family Weekend at SMU’s Fall 2014 Engaged Learning Symposium. The event takes place 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum.

Student presenters will include SMU’s Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellows, Summer Research Fellows and University Honors Richter Research Fellows, as well as two Engaged Learning Fellows.

In addition, this year’s lineup features the University’s Caswell Undergraduate Leadership Fellows and McNair Scholars.

Watch for a complete list of participants at the SMU Engaged Learning homepage

The Engaged Learning Fellows participating in the fall symposium are on track to graduate in December.

For the second year in a row, this annual fall event will take place during SMU Family Weekend, which provides unique opportunities for parents to see the scope of their students’ achievements, says Director Susan Kress.

“As opportunities for undergraduate research and community service across the campus grow, we are delighted to host students engaged in high-level activities at the fall symposium,” she adds.

> Visit SMU’s Office of Engaged Learning online

SMU’s 2014 Engaged Learning Expo connects students with opportunities on Wednesday, Aug. 27

SMU Engaged Learning group photo, 2014-15Community agencies and campus organizations are looking for highly motivated SMU students who want to learn outside the classroom, tackle real world issues and explore potential careers. They’ll have an ideal opportunity to get to know each other at the 2014 Engaged Learning Expo.

This year’s Expo takes place 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, in the Miller Event Center, Moody Coliseum.

Read about 2014-15 Engaged Learning student projects

The event is a valuable networking opportunity for faculty members who want to develop courses with community components, as well as staff members who want to expand their programs, says Susan Kress, director of Engaged Learning.

The following campus programs and community partners have confirmed their attendance at the 2014 Expo:

Campus programs

  • Big iDeas
  • Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education
  • Caswell Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program
  • Center for Global Health Impact
  • Clinton Global Initiative University
  • Community Engagement and Leadership
  • Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute
  • Embrey Human Rights Program
  • Hamilton Scholars
  • Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity
  • Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility
  • McNair Scholars
  • TEDxSMU – Young Fellows
  • Tower Center for Political Studies
  • Undergraduate Research

Community partners

  • Brother Bill’s Helping Hand
  • Buckner International
  • Dallas Holocaust Museum
  • Group Excellence
  • Interfaith Housing Coalition
  • Kids-U
  • Nexus Recovery Center
  • Reading Partners
  • Texas Discovery Gardens
  • Trinity River Audubon Center
  • Unite/Initiative
  • United Way Dallas
  • Uplift Education
  • Workers Defense Project

More about events and exhibits scheduled for the Expo

The Expo also celebrates 69 undergraduate Engaged Learning Fellows who are working on significant projects this academic year, and will provide opportunities to mix and match interested students with campus programs as well as DFW-area community partners.

Visit SMU’s Office of Engaged Learning online

Seven SMU students to attend 2014 Clinton Global Initiative University annual meeting March 21-23

Clinton Global Initiative University Network logoSeven SMU students will share their research, goals and commitment to global issues during the 7th annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) at Arizona State University in Phoenix March 21-23, 2014.

Former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, will host the CGI U gathering. The 2014 agenda was announced earlier this year.

The event will bring together more than 1,000 college students with innovators, thought leaders, and civically engaged celebrities to address challenges facing their campuses and communities in areas such as education, environment and climate change, human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

Keep up with Clinton Global Initiative University news on Facebook: facebook.com/cgiuniversity

The SMU students who will attend the meeting, and a brief description of their work:

  • Rahfin Faruk is expanding Green Riba, an e-commerce and traditional microfinance storefront, to connect West Dallas and SMU-based artists to larger, national markets.
  • Adam Goff and Thomas Schmedding – through their microfinance loan project, PropeLend Economic Empowerment Ventures – will harness public support for economic development by empowering impoverished residents of developing nations to seek loans for entrepreneurship.
  • Jonathan Hess will start Veterans Day Nonprofit, whose purpose is to hold an annual Veterans Day celebration in Dallas to mark their contribution to the Dallas community, raise funds for veterans’ initiatives, and inform the community about Veterans Day and contemporary veterans’ issues.
  • Asia Rodgers will use art therapy to help victims of human trafficking gain confidence in themselves. She will provide access to art classes and events where victims will be able to showcase their creative work.
  • Trisha St. Fleur will partner with Projects Abroad to establish an interactive health education program and to allocate resources geared to women in Ghana.
  • Ashley Wali is completing the last stage of her research on what she has named The Nari Project. She will evaluate the psychological and physiological effects of the crisis kits that she provided to battered women in Dallas, Texas and Comilla, Bangladesh. She will also use her findings to conduct seminars that spread awareness about domestic violence.

Four other SMU students were approved but are not attending in 2014:

  • Joshua Bakarich
  • Joseph DiMarco
  • Daisuke Takeda
  • William Timmerman Wooten

SMU Forum: SMU joins the Clinton Global Initiative University Network

As a member of the CGI University Network of more than 50 colleges and universities that support and mentor Commitments to Action, SMU pledged $10,000 towards student projects as well as travel to the annual meeting.

Find a complete schedule at the Clinton Global Initiative University homepage

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