NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Experts in political science and history will gather on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus Friday, April 8, to take part in a joint conference aimed at bridging the two disciplines.

The joint mini-conference between SFA and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will task students with the planning, participation and execution of the entire event.

"Both of our universities are committed to undergraduate research and classes that offer high-impact practices and experiential learning," said Dr. Dana Cooper, SFA associate professor of history and organizer of the event. "Thus, a joint-conference offers the chance to combine all of these priorities in one semester."

Dr. Nancy Beck Young, a prestigious political historian and professor at the University of Houston, will offer views on political history as keynote speaker of the event in her presentation "The Lady Bird Special, Race, and the 1964 Presidential Election." She is a historian of 20th century American political development.

"Dr. Nancy Beck Young was chosen because of her publications as a scholar and her numerous achievements in the field," Cooper said. "She is a historian who focuses on political developments and was an excellent choice to bridge the gap between the history and political science students who will take part in this conference and to pull together their papers that examine history, the presidency and political themes."

A total of 10 panels will be held throughout the day. Dr. Kwame Badu Antwi-Boasiako, SFA Department of Government chair and associate professor of political science and public administration, will chair the first panel titled "Hard and Soft Power in U.S. Foreign Policy." Cooper will chair the fifth morning panel titled "A Woman's Touch: Women and Politics."

In the afternoon, panels will be chaired by Dr. Ken Collier, associate professor of political science, and Dr. Dianne Dentice, associate professor of sociology.

Set during a unique presidential election year, the conference will afford students the opportunity to study and analyze past and present politics in a practical and pragmatic way.

"I wanted to teach history in such a way that gave students the chance to develop marketable skills - analytical reading, critical writing and research experience, interdisciplinary studies, careful planning, collaboration with peers in the classroom and, remotely, organization of a major event, including everything from panels, pastries and printing programs - that they can apply to other classes and certainly in their future careers," Cooper said. 

The joint conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Twilight Ballroom and Ladyjack Room.

Young will speak from 12:35 to 1:05 p.m. in the Twilight Ballroom. Her presentation, as well as all morning and afternoon sessions, will be open to the public.

The program was made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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