EWU honor students head to Oklahoma for undergrad conference

By Jeremy Burnham, Reporter

Four EWU students from an honors class for transfer students will be heading to Oklahoma this April to participate in the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

The conference is put on each year by the Council of Undergraduate Research. According to its website, the CUR “is strongly committed to the wide expression of all forms and topics of undergraduate research, by all members of the undergraduate research community.”

While students will be presenting a wide range of subjects, the EWU honor students will be discussing philosophy.

Dr. Dana Elder, director of the EWU Honors Program, presented a question to his Honors 301 class, Classical Ethics and Rhetoric.

“The prompt I gave them was ‘what can modern society learn from the ancient Greeks?’” Elder said. “These students submitted some very strong conference proposals. They were very engaged in the material and could see connection to their lives today in a tradition that is at least 2,400 years old.”

Sending students to NCUR is part of the university’s broader focus on undergraduate research.

“I like that the university is featuring undergraduate research as part of its new strategic plan,” said Elder. “It’s one of the hallmarks of the emerging version of Eastern Washington University, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Sophomore Parker Burchett’s presentation was about applying the concept of sophrosyne to cell phone use. Sophrosyne loosely translates to “self-control based on self-knowledge.”

“The presentation is titled ‘How to Sophrosynize Your Phone,’” Burchett said. “For most people, phones are used in an auto-pilot kind of way. And we say ‘OK’ whenever they ask for our attention. My presentation is how to use psychological tricks to use your phone more effectively.”

Burchett suggests simple things like moving apps that you spend too much time on off the home screen, and turning down the color display on your phone.

“If you have colorful apps, they are designed to attract your attention,” said Burchett. “Turning down the color makes them less appealing.”

Elder says that accepting transfer students into the Honors Program is something he is happy to be able to do, and that not a lot of four-year universities do it. Junior Isis Tilton said that is just one of the aspects that makes EWU transfer friendly.

“It was a very easy transfer,” Tilton said. “Everything went well, and I’m lucky to be able to be in the Honors Program and receive the honors scholarship.

Tilton’s presentation is on the concept of Eudaimonia, which translates to “living in accord with your life’s true purpose.”

“It’s about taking life as it comes,” said Tilton. “It’s not something you can just do, it’s something that you keep striving for and keep working towards.”

Freshman Carissa Teeters is not a transfer student, but found herself in the transfer honors class after coming to EWU with 20 college credits that she earned in high school. Her presentation focuses on why schools don’t teach ethics classes to younger students.

“Children aren’t taught ethics in schools,” Teeters said. “Graduate programs often require ethics as a course in order to move on into the program. I explore why it isn’t required until higher education.”

Elder said that these students only make up a part of EWU’s group of students attending NCUR. He said that Dr. Chuck Lopez, EWU’s associate dean of the University College, has made this, and other undergraduate research opportunities, a focus. In all, there will be 58 EWU students attending NCUR.

“This whole effort is about students,” said Elder. “It’s about their work, and what they’re doing to shape the world of the future.”