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SENCER Center for Innovation

Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities

Butler University is proud to be named as a Center for Innovation by SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), a national organization that improves science education by focusing on real-world problems and, by so doing, extends the impact of this learning across the curriculum to the broader community and society. 

SENCER aims to interest and engage students in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as to help students connect STEM learning to their other studies and to strengthen students' understanding of science and civic engagement. As the SENCER Center for Innovation (SCI) for the Central Plains region, and one of seven SCIs nationwide, Butler University values the interconnections of science education and civic engagement, and brings the ideals of SENCER to Butler faculty, staff and students.

The SCI assists Butler in achieving its educational mission with regard to civic education and engagement, its Core curriculum, and STEM and STEM-related majors courses. The SCI also provides Butler and regional institutions with leadership for several related activities: developing or enhancing civic education and civic engagement at the local level, in the Midwest and nationally; faculty development, course development, curricular development and faculty/undergraduate research support; unique, out-of-classroom learning opportunities; and strategies to connect K-16 science education with civic education.

Faculty/Staff Participants in SENCER Initiatives

  • Olujide Akinbo Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Tim Brimmer Professor of Music Education Tim Carter Director of Center for Urban Ecology
  • John Esteb Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Erin Gerecke Instructor in Biology
  • Todd Hopkins Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • Joseph L. Kirsch Professor of Chemistry
  • Jennifer Kowalski Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Tracy LeGreve Instructor in Chemistry
  • Tara Lineweaver Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Panos Linos Professor of Computer Science and Software
  • Meredith McAllister Assistant Professor of Education
  • Marva Meadows Instructor in Biology Paul Morgan Instructor in Chemistry
  • Brian Murphy Professor of Physics
  • Angela Ockerman Assistant Professor of Pharmacy
  • Alison O'Malley Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Stacy A. O'Reilly Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Catherine Pangan Assistant Professor of Education
  • Carol Reeves Professor of English
  • Michael Samide Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Jon Sorenson Professor of Computer Science
  • Philip Villani Associate Professor of Biology
  • Anne Wilson Professor of Chemistry

Online Resources

News Release, Feb. 8, 2012
"Butler Becomes a Midwest Home for SENCER"

SENCER website                        
SENCER: Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities

SENCER Model Series
These curricular models aim to improve science learning and support engagement with complex issues. Model courses, while focusing on specific engagement with scientific reasoning, inquiry, observation, and measurement, additionally connect scientific knowledge to public decision-making, policy development, and the effective "work" of citizenship. SENCER models are chosen because they demonstrate success, showcase effective strategies, and evidence potential for broader implementation and adaptation.


Faculty Perspectives on SENCER at Butler

"My classes are grounded in student engagement throughout the whole semester. Students sit in small groups at tables facing each other and work on projects together each day. They actively talk with one another the whole class time. And in other classes, such as when studying codes and secret messages, their more individualized work is complemented by collaborative problem-solving as they work together to decipher a list of messages." —Karen Holmes, Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences

"Students really gain a new perspective when they see two professors asking each other questions. In one of our courses, we start with an important issue and then work backwards to the discover the science in the issue. For example, in a course on food, we talk about organic farming and food safety and then work back to ecological principles that explain why pollution magnifies in the food chain. It is really a good way to get students to understand why they need to care about societal issues and how science can explain and help resolve problems." —Phil Villani, Biological Sciences

"Students reignite their love of science with a combination of content, pedagogy, and community engagement that highlights how applicable science is to real issues in the community. Students cannot help but engage and become passionate about the material and by the science. Our foods course is built on broad interdisciplinary approaches (linking general biology, botany, chemistry and psychology). And co-teaching the course with someone from another discipline has been an awesome experience for me as an instructor, and again demonstrates to students that science (all kinds of science) matters." —Tara Lineweaver, Psychology

"What happens when a physics professor, a chemistry professor, and an English professor get together? "Indy Power!" Because the issues associated with energy generation are so multifaceted, solving them requires knowledge from several different fields. Focusing this multidisciplinary perspective on the topic of power generation in Indiana, the course covers the science behind and the social history of power generation and its impacts on our culture, our economy, our environment and our health. Interacting with guest speakers from all facets of the energy industry, students gain a sophisticated understanding of energy and its uses." —Carol Reeves, English

"Goggles are on, hydrometers are ready, and real-world connections are all around! This is what you get when you combine science exploration resources and talent from one of the top children's museums in the world, curious 2nd and 3rd graders from Indianapolis Public Schools, and enthusiastic Butler University College of Education students. In our high energy Science and Social Studies Methods course, a shared learning experience is ready for all and the secret is the power of community engagement. A true appreciation of how complex science and social studies ideas are integrated in our daily lives is not only explored but experienced!" —Catherine Pangan, Education

"I encourage students to put scientific knowledge and scientific method to immediate use on matters of immediate interest to students. In teaching statistics, students have a lot of flexibility in working on projects that interest them.  They use real data in which they can apply the scientific methods they are learning. We study issues in various educational fields, from biology to business to education to international affairs.  The course serves students with diverse backgrounds and interests, and we find projects in which students can see the relevance of statistics in their day-to-day lives." —Lacey Echols, Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences

Contact Us

Leadership Team

Margaret Brabant, Professor of Political Science
Donald Braid, Director, Center for Citizenship and Community
Joe Kirsch, Professor of Chemistry