Conference supports social studies and its teachers

While some students may not have taken a social studies class since high school, this does not mean the subject is gone forever.

To promote social studies and support its teachers, the Alabama Council for the Social Studies will host its fall conference Oct. 13.

The conference will feature five sessions throughout the day, each consisting of six workshops happening concurrently.

The workshops will cover various topics, including Early Childhood/Elementary, Technology/World History and Geography/Middle School.

The conference will also feature Jada Kohlmeier, teacher educator and social studies researcher, as a keynote speaker on inquiry.

“(Her research) is giving us some new pedagogy that we can use in the classroom that shows the students we are important for your future career,” said Tama Nunnelley, adjunct geography professor and council president.

The Guillot University Center Atrium will feature several exhibitors from different organizations, including the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, Alabama Public Television and National Geographic Learning.

The conference usually takes place at Samford University in Birmingham. Nunnelley said she brought it to UNA after associates in the council told her they wanted to reach out to more teachers around Alabama.

“I really believe (UNA is) one of the better schools, especially for education in the South,” she said.

She said she hopes the conference will stay at UNA for at least another year before continuing to change universities around Alabama.

Lamont Maddox, associate professor of secondary education and council board member, said there is a registration fee to attend the conference, but it covers the membership fee to become a council member.

Maddox said he helped get Kohlmeier, his professor and mentor at Auburn University, as the speaker.   

“When (future educators) go to the conference, they are able to meet people in the field that they otherwise might not have contact with, and that can be useful down the line when they are trying to get a job or more effectively serve their students,” Maddox said.

Nunnelley said social studies is an important part of everyone’s life.

“It may not be tested at the end of the (school) year, but social studies (are) tested every single day of our lives in all different ways,” she said.

Maddox said he will also host a workshop on globalization, where he will present research he and other teachers conducted by implementing certain curriculum at local high schools.

Senior Erica Walker said she will attend the conference because understanding the purpose of social studies is important for all students.

“The social sciences are relevant to both college and career bound students,” she said. “Students are encouraged to think for themselves through these courses while simultaneously learning to respect the opinions of others.”

Other events at the conference will include a map of Alabama that can be walked on and a mock geography competition hosted by Kapil Nathan, the 2015 winner of the Alabama State Geographic Bee.

Lunch will also be provided, as well as an awards ceremony to honor some of Alabama’s social studies teachers.

Anyone interested in attending can pay online or in person at the conference.

For more information on the council or to register for the conference online, visit