Minnesota State University, Mankato will host the 2015 Upper Midwest Regional Honors Conference, a yearly conference in which regional honor students present scholarly, research and creative projects.

“Confluence and Conflict,” will be the theme of the 2015 version that will include talks by Shannon Fisher and Gwen Westerman, both MSU faculty members. Fisher, the director of the Water Resources Center, will lecture on regional river systems while Westerman, director of the University’s Humanities Program, will discuss Dakota culture and history.

The Conference will be a three-day event and will be held from March 26-28, 2015. Over two hundred students will present projects from varying states, including: Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

According to Director of MSU’s honor program Christopher Corley, the program will be a positive one for the University.

“Hosting the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Conference will allow other universities and colleges in the region an opportunity to visit MSU and learn about what we are doing to serve highly motivated students,” Corley said.

“Students and faculty members from many universities will be here for almost three days, which will allow time to learn about our campus and about the Mankato community.”

Corley contends that the conference will be open to students in a variety of ways. Sessions will be free of charge for students and the schedule will be released ahead of time. Corley suggests that student interest be met with a visit to a sit-in at a lecture or panel hosted by either Dr. Westerman in the Humanities/English department or Dr. Fisher in the Water Resources Center.

The two will be hosting public lectures on the Thursday evening and Friday afternoon of the conference.

“The MSU community is invited to hear these experts speak about the latest research in their fields,” Corley said.

MSU students will be organizing the event; something that Dr. Corley says will provide leadership, organizational and teamwork skills. Corley contends that the best way for students to get involved is to present their work at the conference.

“Getting feedback on their developing projects will be great practice before the NCUR (National Conference on Undergraduate Research) national conference and our own Undergraduate Research Symposium,” Corley said. Both events will take place next April.

“Honors students will gain experience in planning, organizing, and hosting a conference—skills not often taught in a formal classroom,” Corley said.

“Honors students also have opportunities to network with their peers at other institutions and to learn about what their programs are doing to foster their students’ learning and growth. In my experience, informal interactions among the students are part of the conference that students appreciate the most.”

MSU has celebrated a number of first in the last few years. In 2012, the Honors Program published their first article in a national journal, the Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Lauren Bach was named to the Board of Directors for the National Collegiate Honors Council earlier this year, which, according to Corley, was a first for the University.

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