The Program for Learning and Community Engagement (PLACE) at Texas A&M University-Texarkana is preparing to present “Life Happens.”

PLACE’s goal is to expose its community of learners to diverse ideas from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. This year’s theme is “Economic Opportunity.”

The upcoming event will be an exercise intended to aid participants in understanding the impact of socioeconomic status on an individual's life chances. The exercise will take place at noon on Thursday, March 31, in the TEXAR Room of the University Center on the A&M-Texarkana campus.

Kimberly Murray, assistant professor of Sociology, will appear via video conference and student members of the A&M-Texarkana Sociology Club will host the event during which participants will receive a life situation or "Life Happens" card that indicates an event or circumstance that will impact the family. A member of that particular family will have to make attempts to accommodate the events and circumstances of these cards.

“The ‘Life Happens’ exercise is meant to help students understand how different families deal with financial stress and how they budget accordingly,” Dr. Murray said.

“This exercise leads to a discussion about income inequality in America and how one life event may break the bank for a poor family, while a rich family might not even notice the minor dip in the monthly budget. It helps students walk in other people's shoes and develop a big-picture understanding of how economic opportunity – or lack thereof, impacts different families.”

PLACE is a faculty-led program designed to create a community of learners comprising A&M-Texarkana students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

“Faculty members annually choose a common theme around which to organize a lecture series and other activities that provide focal points for learning and discussion,” said Dr. Michael Perri, associate professor of History and chair of the PLACE Committee.

For more information, contact Dr. Murray at Kimberly.Murray@tamut.edu.