Bard College Science Program Wins Major Grant

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Readers of this blog will recall our previous discussion of Bard College and their innovative Citizen Science program (See “Citizen Science Goes Collegiate”). This is a required, three-week intensive program designed to introduce undergraduate students to the essential process of science in a citizen science context. Students select and work on a specific science project, work teaching science at local schools, and other activities.

Now, thanks to an $800,000 aware from Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Bard has the opportunity to build on the success of their Citizen Science program:

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––Bard College has been awarded an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program (HHMI) to support the College’s continuing innovation of science education in the context of the liberal arts. This generous award will fund the creation and implementation of a new model of scientific literacy for undergraduate education. The project builds on the success of Bard’s new Citizen Science (CitSci) Program—an intensive introduction to the sciences for all first-year students. With the support of the HHMI grant, an interdisciplinary team of Bard faculty and staff will work to develop a new definition of scientific literacy that can pertain to all college-level students; use this definition to innovate curricula, assessment tools, and faculty training strategies for the CitSci Program and scientific courses for non-science majors; and disseminate their ideas on scientific literacy to other colleges and universities.

During the first year of the HHMI grant, Bard will convene a working group of science and non-science faculty, staff, and students to develop a campus-wide definition of scientific literacy that is both substantive and practical. The primary objective is for every student to gain scientific literacy that will serve as a foundation for a lifetime of engagement with scientific issues. Bard’s interdisciplinary team will include: Felicia Keesing, project director and associate professor of biology; Mark Halsey, associate dean of the college and associate professor of mathematics; Michael Tibbetts, associate professor of biology; Brooke Jude, director of CitSci and assistant professor of biology; and Philip Pardi, director of college writing and visiting assistant professor of writing.

In the first year, with the grant’s support, the College will hold a conference on undergraduate scientific literacy at its Annandale campus. Participants from across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are experts on scientific literacy will be invited to discuss alternative standards and appropriate strategies for scientific literacy for undergraduates. To further foster discussion on scientific literacy among faculty and staff at other institutions, Bard will host symposia at national meetings of major scientific societies, as well as launch a website targeted at college faculty, staff, and administrators that collects resources (including course materials) and references on scientific literacy at the college level.

Bard’s CitSci Program was launched in 2011 to develop student awareness of the methods scientists use to conduct scientific investigations. The mandatory, ungraded, immersive three-week course helps students to explore the strengths and weaknesses of these different scientific approaches. The HHMI grant will help to further focus the goals of the CitSci program as well as fund the creation of new positions including postdoctoral fellowships in assessment, curriculum, and teaching.

Our congratulations to Bard College for this recognition of their excellent program.

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