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APSU finds joy in hosting Tennessee College Honors Council Annual Conference

Dr. Tim Winters

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Feb. 10-11, Tennessee’s top college students will visit Austin Peay State University to examine the mysterious and elusive emotion of joy during the 2023 Tennessee College Honors Council (TCHC) Annual Conference.

For Dr. Tim Winters, director of the APSU honors program and TCHC president, the conference’s blissful theme permeates all fields, and it is something he believes more people should embrace.

“We want to celebrate the joyous moments in scientific and mathematical discovery, in the presentation of the various creative arts, in language and culture studies, in psychology, in sociology, and in all aspects of human endeavor,” he said. “Joy is critical for good health, both mental and physical. Just as we need to get exercise and drink water, we also need to experience a little joy every day.”

The emotion isn’t often the focus of academic debates, but honors students from across the state have spent the last few months developing scholarly papers and posters on the conference theme. One of those individuals is APSU honors student Blake Parker, who will present his paper, “The Joy of Reading: Discovering Beautiful Escapism,” at the conference.

“As an English Education major, I quickly gravitated towards books and the joy of the written word,” Parker said. “My approach for tackling the theme was to briefly explain joy as a concept, along with things that get in the way of humans experiencing joy. Then, I share how reading does and should tie into our lives to give us the best chance to experience joy; as honors scholars, students, faculty, and humans, we all have a duty to ourselves to figure out how to best handle life: that is the mindset I wrote and will present the paper from.”

Students from major colleges and universities across Tennessee will spend Friday evening socializing at Austin Peay’s Honors Commons. On Saturday, the conference will take place in the Morgan University Center and begin with the event’s keynote address by Dr. Dwonna Naomi Goldstone, associate professor and director of the African American Studies Program at Texas State University. Goldstone, a former APSU professor, will talk about “The Joy of the African American Experience.”

Following that speech, the students will deliver their research related to the topic. For APSU’s Parker, there’s also a little added joy in participating in an academic event on his own campus.

“This will be my first conference, as well as the first time I am presenting a piece of my own writing in a professional setting,” Parker said. “I am very excited and grateful that Dr. Winters, the Honors Program, and Austin Peay have given me this opportunity. I am happy to represent Austin Peay, especially on our own campus!”

APSU student Allison Harris will also present on “A Philosophical Exploration of Joy,” and APSU student Meleah Lanier will discuss “Numerical Exploration of Morpho-Inspired Nanostructures for Tunable Structural Color.”

“We are all excited to be welcoming students and faculty from across the state to our lovely campus for this annual event,” Winters said.

Information on APSU’s honors program is available at www.apsu.edu/honors.  

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