2022 SENCER Summer Institute

SENCER Summer Institute 2022

August 5-7, 2022

CALL FOR PROPOSALS, DEADLINE JULY 15! Click here for proposal submission form.

NCSCE Members get discounts on registration, so membership pays for itself! Before you register, join HERE!

Member Registration, 100.00

Non-Member Registration, 150.00

This year’s SENCER Summer Institute will take advantage our continuing virtual environment and combine synchronous and asynchronous content. Institute programming will be held online from August 5 through August 7, 2022. Our theme for this year’s Institute is:

CRITICAL CONTEXTS AND CRITICAL PEDAGOGIES FOR STEM LEARNING—Advancing democracy, social justice, and care in STEM Education.

In 1997 Jane Lubchenco, the incoming president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, called for “A New Social Contract for Science.” As an environmental scientist she believed that the existential crisis of the human impact on ecological systems was foundational, and required that we must acknowledge the “intimate connections between these systems and human health, the economy, social justice, and national security.”

In the 25 years since her call, the range, complexity, and  interrelatedness, of the pressing problems facing the globe have become more painfully apparent. The climate crisis, infectious and chronic diseases, wealth inequality, technological threats to security and privacy have multiplied and intensified, with radically disparate impacts on vulnerable populations.  In the US and globally, civil rights and hard-won liberties are being systematically rolled back in an effort to institutionalize inequities and unravel even the modest gains of the last 50 years, further disempowering under-resourced groups.  In place of a “new social contract for science,” public distrust of science, scientists, and “experts” in general, has hit a new low.

SENCER, founded in 2001, was an effort to respond to Lubchenco’s call by adding “responsibilities” to the more generic idea of “civic engagement” and by putting complex civic problems at the center of STEM learning.   In SENCER’s 22nd year we must increase our commitment to advancing democracy, equity, and human flourishing and ensure they are at the center of our educational work in STEM.  How can we as educators across the STEM learning ecosystem of k-12, higher ed, and informal ed, empower our students and communities as civically and scientifically capable agents of change ?

We invite proposals that feature courses, programs, and strategies that advance democracy, social justice, and an ethic of care in STEM Education.


Conniel Malek Executive Director, True Costs Initiative

Embracing the Connections: The STEM and Social Justice Future We need

Conniel Malek is a leader at the intersection of environmental knowledge, law, policy, and human rights. As TCI’s founding Executive Director, Conniel drives strategies centered on promoting collaboration among communities, funders, and creative leaders.  This collaboration is integral to tip the balance so corporations are held accountable for and internalize the true environmental and human costs of their actions. The NCSCE is a proud recipient of funding from TCI for a project extending the wastewater surveillance research lead by Davida Smyth and Monica Trujillo to communities in the global south. Conniel is a proud daughter of the Caribbean and is particularly committed to advocating for the rights of people in overlooked parts of the globe as they pertain to climate justice and technical expertise.  Under her vision and leadership, TCI became one of the founding members of Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy (FORGE).  Currently, Conniel serves on the Board of Directors for Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC), and EDGE Funders Alliance.  She was an Equity in Philanthropy Fellow with the Rockwood Leadership Institute and prior to TCI, Conniel practiced corporate law for a decade.  She also serves on several advisory boards for organizations committed to supporting systemic change and innovation in the human rights movement.  Conniel received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Government, with a concentration in International Relations, from Cornell University.  Conniel is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania.

Bryan Dewsbury Associate Professor of Biology, University of Rhode Island

Reclaiming Humanity in the Science Classroom

Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to prepare students to be engaged participants in an evolving democracy. Hyper focus on subject matter expertise sometimes results in our pedagogy being void of strategies that connect to this larger social aim. In this talk we will unpack what we mean by ‘participation in a democracy’, and the specific ways in which classroom pedagogy, even in STEM classrooms, can be rewired to achieve both intellectual and social growth. Implications for policy and structural changes needed to make this a reality will also be discussed. 

Bryan Dewsbury is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Rhode Island. He is the Principal Investigator of the Science Education And Society (SEAS) research program where as a team they blend research on the social context of teaching and learning, faculty development of inclusive practices and programming in the cultivation of equity in education. He is also a Fellow with the John N. Gardner Institute where he assists institutions of higher education cultivate best practices in inclusive education. He was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. He immigrated in 1999 and attended Morehouse College for his Bachelor of Science in Biology after which he attended Florida International University for a Masters’ and PhD also in Biology. Among his many publications is his 2019 piece “Deep Teaching in the STEM classroom” (CSSE) that recentralizes dialogue as the basis for good teaching. He has conducted faculty development and given plenary addresses on this topic to over 50 institutions of higher education, corporations and K12 institutions across North America. His research program focuses on broader social and equity questions related to discipline-based education research. Specifically we will be looking at the role that bias, stereotypes and identity constructs play in relationships (with other students, with teachers etc.) from K-12, and also how those relationships affect student engagement and learning outcomes.

Sara Tolbert, Associate Professor Science Education, Teacher Education, and Environmental Education, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Thinking Like a Movement in Science and Education

In 2015 professor Tolbert, received a National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer postdoctoral fellowship award to further explore socially transformative and justice-oriented approaches to science education. Drawing on her experience as a public school science/ESL teacher in the Bronx, NY, and Atlanta, GA, and Auckland (Papatoetoe), Aotearoa/New Zealand, as well as in Latin America as Assistant Director of Nature Guide Training Programs for UNESCO and Rare.org. Sara provides an international perspective on civically and socially engaged science learning. A primary focus of her current research is to facilitate learning experiences in which students and teachers engage with science and education as/for civic/community engagement, social justice, sustainability, and eco-justice. She is co-founder and leadership council member at Science Educators for Equity, Diversity, and Social Justice (SEEDS) http://seedsweb.org, co-director of University of Canterbury’s Learning for Earth Futures research cluster https://blogs.canterbury.ac.nz/leaf/, and co-director of Ōtautahi Food Justice Research Collaborative at the UC Community and Urban Resilience Initiative https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/resilience/.


Bill Walsh  Founder Health Building Network, (now Exec Director of Passport Foundation as of April ‘22)  https://healthybuilding.net/blog/598-hbn-founder-bill-walsh-to-lead-passport-foundation 

Since 2000, HBN has defined the leading edge of healthy building practices that increase transparency in the building products industry, reduce human exposures to hazardous chemicals, and create market incentives for healthier innovations in manufacturing. In other words, they use scientific and technical knowledge to tackle the critical civic challenges and risks to our collective health in the built environment. HBN is interdisciplinary team of researchers, engineers, scientists, building experts, and educators, that pursues our mission on three fronts. Bill Walsh will talk about the educational opportunities that the built environment and the policies that govern it offer for undergraduate STEM learning.





Lighting Talks — These are synchronous (scheduled, live) presentations limited to 5 minutes. The goal is to give participants an overview of your content and provide an opportunity for questions and follow-up via chat or live if time permits.

Recorded presentations – These are videos of no longer than 5 minutes that will be uploaded to the NCSCE Youtube channel . A designated session time (similar to a poster session) will be scheduled for video presenters to engage with participants via zoom breakout rooms. For a guide to preparing recorded submission go to: https://sencer.net/virtual-presenter-instructions/