UW-Fox Valley Faculty Participate in SENCER Summer Institute
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A team of seven faculty members and campus administration from the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley participated in a five-day, invited, residential summer institute at Santa Clara University in California sponsored by the national Center for Science and Civic Engagement (SENCER) and the National Science Foundation. The team from UWFox joined 38 other invited teams, along with representatives of 104 colleges and universities as the newest members of SENCER.
By participating in the SENCER Summer Institute, UWFox is contributing to a national reform effort that connects the improvement of undergraduate science education to some of the most vexing civic challenges our nation and our future graduates will face.
At the Institute the UWFox team began development of a new course that will teach rigorous science content through problems that require scientific knowledge and expertise. This course will focus upon issues associated with social, political, and environmental issues facing the citizens and decision makers in the Fox Valley region.
Starting with the element carbon, the course will address issues of energy consumption, land use, and environmental impact. Throughout the year the Fox team will continue to network with other faculty and engage with innovative pedagogies, assessment, and undergraduate research.
“The ideals of SENCER, to engage students in meaningful and civically focused learning, continues our emphasis of preparing future leaders for our region by addressing relevant issues from a multidisciplinary perspective,” said Campus Dean Jim Perry, one of UWFox’s seven participants.
David Burns, director of the national center for Science and Civic Engagement and principal investigator for the SENCER initiative, expressed his appreciation for the leadership that UWFox brings to this national effort to improve science education. “So many of our most significant civic challenges require knowledge of science and mathematics,” Burns said. “We are pleased to be partnered with UWFox in focusing the intelligence and capacity of students, faculty, and academic leaders on some of the hardest problems of our time.”
Martin Rudd, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at UWFox and a member of the campus’ team added, “The innovative programs of science education involving civic engagement throughout the country fit in extremely well with the types of courses offered here at UWFox. The benefits for faculty being involved in a national initiative such as SENCER will be felt by our students across a broad range of disciplines”
The SENCER Project is planned as a five-year project designed to promote reform through faculty development, a focus on local systemic change, and improved assessment strategies. The project is supported with a grant from the National Science Foundation and is designed to achieve three pressing goals: 1) to improve science education, especially for students who may never major in a scientific field; 2) to connect science education reform to more robust and relevant general education programs; and 3) to stimulate informed civic engagement with scientific questions on the part of today's students.
Led by David Burns and Karen Oates, SENCER was founded while they were affiliated with the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Since its inception, SENCER has worked with more than 800 faculty members at more than 190 colleges and universities in 40 states and ten foreign nations to improve science learning. For more information on the SENCER initiative and the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, visit www.sencer.net or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.