Sandburg’s Roemer Wins Phi Theta Kappa National Award to Fund Research Project

  Aaron Frey
  Thursday, April 23, 2020 5:09 PM
  Campus News

Galesburg, IL

Lara Roemer, associate dean of social and business sciences at Carl Sandburg College, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Mosal Award by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Named for PTK’s late executive director emeritus, Dr. Margaret Mosal, this national award will provide Roemer, the faculty advisor for Sandburg’s PTK chapter, with a $5,000 stipend to assist with the completion of a project that leads to personal professional growth. PTK faculty advisors with at least five years of service were eligible for the award.

Roemer will have three years to complete her project, “Living Ubuntu: Creating Meaningful Opportunities for Diverse Connection in Rural America,” which will see her travel to England and study global migration and immigration at Oxford University’s Summer Institute on History, Politics and Society. While the three-week Oxford institute will not take place this summer because of the coronavirus, Roemer will have the opportunity to travel abroad the next two years.

“The completion of this project would not be possible without this incredible support from Phi Theta Kappa. The Oxford courses are residential, and although they are short, the pricing reflects the prestige of the institution and the faculty teaching the summer courses and the quality of programming,” Roemer said. “Without the Oxford piece I would not be able to extend my reach as a professor and a community member. So the support, both financially and personally, from Phi Theta Kappa will allow me to complete a project I have dreamed of working on for a long time.”

Using her research and discussions with international faculty, Roemer will facilitate partnerships between Sandburg and local organizations assisting immigrant populations. She also expects to use her experience and research to enhance curricula for her International Relations, Global Issues and History of Africa courses at Sandburg. Additionally, Roemer plans to utilize network connections gained through her travel to Oxford to create study abroad opportunities for Sandburg students.

Roemer said her passion to pursue this topic of research and implement it into her teaching stems from two quotes from South African anti-apartheid and human rights activist Desmond Tutu that represent her goals as an educator:

  • “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
  • “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

“I view it as my responsibility to show students the world in any way I can. And to provide them not just with facts and figures, statistics, charts and graphs, but with human stories that represent the different positions of people throughout the world,” Roemer said. “Now, more than ever, it feels important to create not just good citizens of the United States but good citizens of the planet. I can only be effective in doing my ‘little bit of good’ if I am continuously evolving as a scholar, leader and servant. I draw inspiration not just from past and present international figures but from individuals from all walks of life that I meet when I travel. It is those interactions that primarily inform my pedagogy.

“While I recognize that Oxford is an institution of international renown, my purpose in seeking to further my education there is not because of the prestige of the institution but rather because of the opportunity it provides to engage with scholars from around the world. Enhancing my academic knowledge and also my personal connections to academics from other countries, my intention is to not just gain academic prowess, it is to ultimately better my understanding of other cultures and the status of other peoples around the world, with the end goal being to communicate that information with students.”

This past winter, Roemer was selected as one of 30 faculty scholars to lead discussion groups during PTK’s 2020 summer conference. It marked the fifth time Roemer had been selected to serve as a faculty scholar.

Phi Theta Kappa is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders. PTK is made up of more than 3.5 million members and nearly 1,300 chapters in 11 nations, with approximately 250,000 active members in the nation’s colleges. Learn more at

Lara Roemer

Lara Roemer

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Aaron Frey