SENCER Summer Institutes

SENCER Summer Institute 2023


Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) was launched in 2001 with the mission of improving STEM learning for all student, but importantly, to ensure that our efforts produce (in the words of the founding PI, David Burns) “Knowledge to Make our Democracy.” Two decades later, and since the assault on the US Capitol, there is no longer any question that US democracy is in crisis. Racial, economic, social, and political divisions are growing. Media manipulation, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and strategic court rulings have allowed an explicitly anti-democratic minority to disproportionately influence public discourse, law, and policy, a situation accelerated by a lack of public understanding of the basic elements of American governance.  Science educators can, and must, play an important part in advancing the civic understanding and awareness our students need to ensure our democratic future.

The ability to use empirical reasoning and evidence to guide action—what John Dewey called “the scientific habit of mind”– is a critical capacity for citizens in a democracy. SENCER has always maintained that science learning was a powerful and foundational context for civic education, and essential for effective civic agency in a democracy.  But science education can not meet this challenge if it is practiced as the transmission of “facts.” Science education can only contribute to the effort of building civic capacity if the connections between content and context, inquiry and action, knowledge and responsibility, are clear and relevant to the learner.

Deploying science learning in the service of the long-term collective goals of democracy–including equity, justice, and community well-being–and not solely short-term workforce needs and starting salaries, will require profound curricular and pedagogical reform. It will also require value-driven academic leadership that supports faculty committed to ensuring that STEM education IS civic education.  This year’s SENCER Institute will showcase innovative strategies that educators are using to advance both science AND civic learning.  We hope you will participate and share your efforts with the community of transformative practice that is SENCER.

(Program is updated daily with minor changes and new links)




Thursday, August 3


4:00 Opening Plenary – Welcome


Welcoming remarks from the Executive Director

4:30 Opening Keynote 


John L. Rudolph, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Science Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Rethinking Science Education for the Future

Few people question the importance of science education in American schooling. It’s the key, after all, to economic growth, developing the ability to reason more effectively, and enabling us to solve everyday problems. Good science teaching results in all these benefits and more—or so we think. But what if all this is simply wrong? What if the benefits we assume science education produces turn out to be an illusion, nothing more than wishful thinking? In this talk, Rudolph examines the reasons we’ve long given for teaching science and assesses how they hold up to what we know about what students really learn in science classrooms and what research tells us about how people actually interact with science in their daily lives. The results may be surprising. ​Instead of more and more rigorous traditional science education to fill the STEM pipeline, Rudolph challenges us to think outside the box of traditional instruction and makes the case for an expansive science education aimed instead at rebuilding trust between science and the public—something desperately needed in our current era of impending natural challenges and science denial.


John L. Rudolph’s research focuses on the history of science education in American high schools. He also writes about issues related to the nature of science in the present-day school curriculum and how the history, philosophy, and sociology of science have been used in science education research. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in curriculum and instruction and history of science. Prior to his current appointment, he spent a number of years teaching physics, chemistry, and biology in middle schools and high schools across Wisconsin. In addition to his position in C&I, he has affiliate appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Robert and Jean Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. He is past editor-in-chief of the Wiley & Sons journal Science Education and National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.


6:00 – Members’ Reception

Friday, August 4


1:00 Celebrating Achievements of the Past Year


1:30 – Session Block 1 – The Wickedest Problems Part 1: The Global Civic Challenge of Water

Presented by Bhawani Venkataraman and Davida Smyth with the NCSCE Water Fellows

Bhawani Venkataraman is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School, and a SENCER Scholar broadly supporting our work in water education and research. Her research is in the field of chemical education and science communication. Her new book Paradox of Water explores the intersection of the scientific, social, and policy implications around access to safe drinking water. 

Davida Smyth is an Associate Professor of Biology at Texas A&M-San Antonio and the Deputy Director of NCSCE. Davida’s current research focuses on wastewater epidemiology to monitor for infectious diseases. She is currently leading a funded initiative at NCSCE to extend economical and effective wastewater research to under-resourced communities in the global south. 



Wastewater Surveillance in Uruguay (RP)


Florencia Cancela, [email protected]

Department of Bacteriology and Virology, Faculty of Medicine, Montevideo-Uruguay


Florencia Cancela Video Presentation.mp4 

This talk will present an overview of the first program of Wastewater surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 genomic populations on a country-wide scale through targeted sequencing in Uruguay. 


2:30 – Session Block 2 – Wickedest Problems Part 2: Climate Futures


Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Climate Education (LT)


Karl Haushalter, [email protected]; Lelia Hawkins, [email protected]

Gabriela Gamiz, [email protected]

Harvey Mudd College


SENCER is partnering with the Hixon Center for Climate and Environment and the Harvey Mudd College Office of Civic and Community Engagement to present “Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Climate Education” on September 14-15. This conference will convene climate experts, teacher-scholars from other disciplines, and community partners to discuss the future of climate education for undergraduates. The goal of the conference is to expand the number of faculty involved in climate education and for those already involved to deepen their understanding of and appreciation for the strengths that multiple perspectives bring to addressing the challenges of climate. A theme throughout the conference will be broadening participation in climate education on our campuses and in our communities. At the SENCER Summer Institute, the conference organizers will share an overview of the program and a preview of what attendees can expect. 

Here’s the registration information:


Speculative Ecology: Teaching in the Chthulucene (LT)


Tobi Park, [email protected]

Johns Hopkins University 

Alec Armstrong, [email protected] 

Maryland Institute College of the Arts


We are now grappling with a new epoch, one which looms eerie and uncertain over all earthly lives. It brings both fears of environmental cataclysm and promises of ecological possibility. New life emerges as the old falls. We learn to adapt through disruption. We are able to cultivate and maintain global networks unlike any seen before. This future is profoundly urgent, socially dynamic, and ecologically electric. Are our educational approaches expansive enough to meet it? Speculative ecology is a creative mode of inquiry and research that explores alternative ecological futures. Going beyond traditional ecological sciences, it aims to challenge our assumptions and dominant socio-environmental tropes, drawing on the history and philosophy of science and melding scientific reasoning with personal expression. It fosters systems-based thinking, inspires creative and workable climate solutions, and encourages students to examine the perspectives which are included and excluded by mainstream social narratives. 


This session describes a speculative ecology curriculum that encourages environmentally, philosophically, and socially oriented thinking. We describe the key ideas animating our teaching and creative practices, share learning outcomes relevant from primary grades through undergraduate education, describe sample learning activities, and discuss plans to incorporate speculative ecology into undergraduate science courses at an art and design college and after-school creative writing programs for middle schoolers. We will also discuss difficulties in developing our work and pose questions to the SENCER community to develop these ideas further together. 

The Role of Undergraduate Student Research in Community-based Resilience Planning: Introducing the CERENE Model for Climate Resilience Hubs on O’ahu (RP) 


Miku Lenentine, [email protected]

Kapi’olani Community College CERENE (Center for Resilient Neighborhoods)

Robert Franco, [email protected]

Office for Institutional Effectiveness, Kapi’olani Community College. 


In this presentation, we introduce an emerging model for addressing climate change through hyper-localized community-based resilience planning which puts students at the heart of the process. The Center for Resilient Neighborhoods (CERENE) is a community-based research and civic engagement center which supports community resilience, environmental sustainability, and climate change adaptation in partnership with community leaders and the City and County of Honolulu. At the heart of CERENE are student leaders who engage with community partners in resilience service learning and undergraduate student research through the Resilience Corps Leadership Award Program and the Transcending Barriers to Success in Economics Bridge Program (TBSE). These students represent the next generation of sustainability and resilience researchers, professionals, educators, and neighborhood residents who can integrate sustainability and resilience competencies into their careers and local communities. Student leaders are invited to work as undergraduate research assistants, peer mentors, and summer interns in support of islandwide resilience focused on food, energy, older age adults, health, and economic resilience in the context of emergency and non-emergency scenarios. Students gain applied research skills in community engagement, participatory urban planning, GIS, STEM, aina-based economics, social science, and Indigenous research methodologies. 


The CERENE model is community-based, place-based, equity-centered, culturally informed, and supports decolonizing and Indigenizing climate resilience curriculum and research. The TBSE program has a specific goal of graduating 100 women, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Filipino students with economics degrees to support a re-envisioned model for economic resilience and a network of community resilience hubs on O’ahu.


3:30 Session Block 3 – Advancing Social Justice and Inclusion through STEM Learning Partnerships


Developing a Blueprint for Accelerating Change in Social Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in STEM Curricula (LT)


Pat Marsteller, [email protected]

Emory University 


Participants in BioQUEST, SENCER, and the ASCN (Accelerating Systemic Change Network) are developing a book, a collection of resources, and eventually a grant, to support and give examples of curricular ideas that use Social and Racial Justice issues for STEM curricula. The book will aim to provide change agents, faculty, and faculty development practitioners with resources to address social justice issues in STEM by providing advice and examples of successful practice. We hope people from all stem disciplines will come to discuss ideas for the book and particularly examples from all stem disciplines. The book will define terms, justify the need for change, and then proceed to practical knowledge for faculty including what self-reflection they need to do before embarking on this work, what they need to know and think about for their students, brief introductions to Universal Design for Learning, Principles of Inclusive Teaching and departmental and institutional supports and barriers. This initiative will bring together literature, advice on how to start with individual reflection and practice, identify multiple ways to engage students, multiple means of representing scientists and student learning, and provide ways of action and expression using UDL principles and other strategies that can promote equitable and inclusive outcomes and learning environments. We have also set up a collaborative group page on the BioQUEST/ QUBES hub. This home of a collaborative community is working on projects associated with social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM undergraduate programs. This site will have forums for discussion, and collections of resources associated with Social Justice in STEM undergraduate curricula, including publications, curriculum descriptions, and chapters for the proposed book.


Centering racial equity in preservice science teacher education using critical speculative design in an undergraduate STEM course (RP)


Veronica Cassone McGowan [email protected]; Symone Gyles [email protected]; Bryan White [email protected]; Elizabeth Starks [email protected]; Amy Lambert [email protected]; Rachel Scherr [email protected]; Charity Lovitt [email protected], Carrie Tzou, [email protected]

University of Washington, Bothell 

Megan Bang, [email protected]

Northwestern University




The natural sciences are increasingly recognizing the need to address social theories in the study of natural systems (Schell, et al, 2020; Graddy-Lovelace, 2017). Redlining, climate justice, and inequitable access to health care are the characteristics of science and science-related policies that are developed in a framework of institutionalized racism. Racial inequity is, therefore, a factor in the injustices done by science, engineering, and technology, and we can no longer ignore the key role of sociopolitical contexts in the teaching, learning, and doing of science, and the preparation of pre-and in-service science teachers.


In this presentation, we will share findings from an NSF-funded project to design a 2-quarter “science for elementary teachers” course, designed to take the place of science content courses typically required for entry into teacher certification programs. A team of educational researchers, STEM faculty, and community experts co-designed modules that integrate NGSS-aligned science and engineering concepts, racial equity, and contemporary scientific tools and practices in the context of examining the history of racist research practices within science itself. We ask, how can undergraduate science courses integrate issues of racial justice to support more just and equitable teaching of science across K-16 contexts? We will provide an overview of our course design and will share examples of how we used critical speculative design to engage students in using critical STEM practices such as data analysis and programming to think about more just futures in response to historic, powered decision-making around topics such as climate change, redlining, and gender equity. 


Senior Design Projects with Volunteers for Medical Engineering (RP)


Suzanne Keilson [email protected]

Loyola University Maryland


This talk is an introduction to the senior design course at Loyola University Maryland and the collaboration that has been developed with Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME). VME is a forty-year-old non-profit organization that is part of Image Center Maryland. Each year VME coordinates a variety of client-focused projects that are taken up by individual student teams at a variety of secondary, community college, and higher education institutions. This talk will present details of the organization and success of two projects that were completed by Loyola University Maryland student teams. The first project was to provide six saddle modifications that would allow communication devices (e.g. iPads) to be securely attached during therapeutic riding sessions with nonverbal children. The other project was to provide an alternative communication mechanism for a nonverbal young adult with Autism who needs to briefly broadcast his needs in certain noisy and public situations. Both projects illustrate the ways in which true user-centered design can work to provide appropriate technology with a positive social impact. Details of the two organizations, the partnership, and lessons learned from such successful collaborations will be presented.


A TIMEly CURE: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Underrepresented Minority Students in STEM Learning and Student Success (LT)


Fernando Nieto, [email protected]

SUNY Old Westbury, Science & Technology Entry Program(co-Director)

Hugh Fox, [email protected] 

Executive Director  Community Action, Learning and Leadership (CALL) Program

Duncan Quarless, [email protected]

SUNY Old Westbury 

Sharadha Sambasivan, [email protected]

Suffolk County Community College 


The number of minority students pursuing STEM degrees continues to decline nationwide. To promote broader student interest and persistence, the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) and Community Action, Learning, and Leadership (CALL) Program at SUNY Old Westbury implemented a Panther Citizen Science project using equity-focused High-Impact Practices (HIP). The project model involves instruction that is Thematic, Inquiry-based, Mentor-supported, and Enhanced (TIME) and features Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE). This pedagogy supports courses in both high school and college curriculums, empowering students to develop their own research questions, with mentorship provided by faculty members, student peers, and community-based partners. 


In partnership with the Town of Hempstead Department of Conservation and Waterways, Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Brookhaven National Laboratory, college students from Suffolk County Community College, SUNY Old Westbury, and Westbury High School are supporting the efforts to monitor the water quality of waterways in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The multidisciplinary community of practice connects the humanities and STEM fields, providing an ethical context for sustainable practice, civic engagement, and environmental justice. Students are provided community-based research opportunities as participatory global citizens of democracy. The regional concerns regarding water quality have set the stage to identify and engage Environmental Justice Communities of Concern (EJCOC) across Long Island that include articulated project-based academic IHE partnerships between 2- and 4-year institutions as the next iteration for this citizen science project.

MSPY: Community Engagement Projects with Middle Schoolers (RP)


Cyndy Carlson [email protected]; Anne Gatling ([email protected]); Katie Donell ([email protected]); Mary McHugh ([email protected]) Merrimack College


MSPY Carlson-SENCER2023.mp4 


Building on the success of the Lawrence Math and Science Project (LMSP), Merrimack STEM Pathways for Youths (MSPY) is a project-based, career-focused after-school pilot program for 7th & 8th-grade students. The pilot, which took place during the 22-23 academic year, included undergraduate students coaching middle school students to identify and complete community-engaged projects in their own neighborhoods. By inspiring, mentoring, and empowering young learners through scalable curriculum, career exploration, 180-degree mentorship, and assessment, MSPY sought to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students succeeding in STEM disciplines in high school and beyond, address pandemic-related learning loss, and improve retention rates from middle school to high school.


For over 10 years, LMSP has provided after-school programming for middle school students one day per week throughout the school year. For MSPY, middle school students met with LMSP students for regular LMSP lessons once per week and met after school one additional day (a total of 2 after-school meetings each week). The students visited our college campus several times throughout the year for STEM activities led by faculty and college students, completed Zoom calls for project support with faculty, and subsequently identified their own research question and/or community project to investigate further – such as how recycling might impact waste management at their school or how germs might spread from their school bathroom. At the project conclusion, in May, the middle school students returned to campus to present research and results for their research questions and project outcomes.


4:30   Keynote

Jessica Wyndham

Associate Director, KPMG Banarra, Human Rights and Social Impact


Science Education as a Human and Civil Right: The Responsibility of Scientists

For over a decade, Jessica Wyndham lead the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights, and Law Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), first as Associate Director, and then as Director.  She is an internationally recognized expert on Human Rights Law and has written widely on the power and potential of the right to science for empowering individuals, strengthening communities, and improving the quality of life

Saturday, August 5


1:00-2:15 Session Block 4 – Re-claiming the Human Factor in STEM


Engineering for the Common Good: The Critical Role of Human Rights Education in Science and Technology (RP)

Kelly Bohrer, [email protected]

Natalie Hudson, [email protected]

University of Dayton 

Recently, engineering for human rights has emerged as a field of study at leading universities in the United States. Among these leaders, the University of Dayton recently established a human rights minor specifically designed for engineering students. This innovative program seeks to foster a new generation of students, scholars, and policy partners who together can draw on universal principles, tools, and institutional frameworks central to human rights to harness science and technology for tackling global, social, and environmental challenges. Using a human rights-based approach more holistically and practically prepares students, faculty, and future engineering practitioners to not only respond to complex global challenges but to also innovate in inclusive and interdisciplinary design. Human rights education builds on the engineering code of ethics and offers international legal standards, new understandings of social structures as root causes of inequity, and systems of accountability providing concrete mechanisms for ensuring democratic practices. This developing field speaks to SENCER’s commitment to the “integration of science with arts and the humanities” as well as the goal of “deploying science learning in the service of the long-term collective goals of democracy–including equity, justice, and community well-being.” This presentation will explore the research, teaching, and industry opportunities that emerge in this space and aims to expand our community of learning and collaboration between science and human rights.


Using an Environmental Justice Case Study to Teach the Role of Science in Policy-making in a Science Ethics Course (LT)

Melissa Haswell, [email protected]

Delta College


This environmental justice activity is a two-week module developed for use in a science ethics course that is taught using an anti-racist theoretical framework. The activity scaffolds the concepts of ethical research design, scientific integrity, and social/public policy-making roles of scientists. This specific module also emphasizes the ethical decision-making partnership between scientists, healthcare practitioners, and public health officials.  Students are encouraged to think beyond the stereotyped roles of a doctor or a bench scientist and develop an understanding of how they might potentially be involved in public policy where their scientific work is heavily scrutinized. 


Purpose, Passion, Curiosity, Artistry, and Creativity — People NOT AI (LT)

Frank Wattenberg, [email protected]

United States Military Academy (Emeritus)


Like many people, I have been astounded by the power of the latest product of the STEM disciplines – ChatGPT 4.0. But, like many earlier STEM products — for example, nuclear fission and social media — power without purpose is a haphazard, often dangerous, force multiplier. As scientists and science educators we need to work with our colleagues across the sciences, arts, and humanities and with the artist/humanist within each of us to thoroughly change what and how we teach. We need to focus on the life of a scientist/artist/humanist bringing human purpose, passion, curiosity, artistry, and creativity to bear on the existential problems we face — to use the raw power of STEM wisely, to better our lives. COVID-19 highlighted our collective inability to make decisions in a high-stakes environment where answers are not found in dusty books, where our knowledge is rapidly changing, where there are multiple, often conflicting, measures of success, loud stakeholders, and where, most importantly, our actions need to, and should be expected to, change as we learn more. The sciences inform our efforts but the real and absolutely essential imperative is living our lives as scientist-artist-humanists. 


This session will focus on specific examples of units that can be used in our classes in which students live the life of a scientist/artist/humanist bouncing back and forth between theory and real-world experimentation and observation using inexpensive readily available “equipment.”  We use ChatGPT for what it does best — satirizing more traditional science


Incorporating Techniques from the Humanities to Encourage Engagement with Scientific Projects in a College-Level Summer Internship Program (LT)

Elizabeth Emery, [email protected]

Montclair State University


Surveys administered during the Green Teams Summer Internship Program hosted by Montclair State University (NJ) reveal that STEM and non-STEM college students from diverse backgrounds report statistically significant gains in self-confidence and oral presentation skills after completing this ten-week paid internship. The program provides undergraduate students an opportunity to increase their skills in STEM and prepare for careers by solving sustainability challenges for partners such as community groups, municipalities, and companies. In order to improve the communication skills so important in the workforce, the curriculum places nearly as much emphasis on the public presentation of student results as it does on their research, in part by building on the science communication curriculum developed by the ASBMB (American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology). Weekly hour-long sessions facilitated by faculty members explicitly invite student reflection about the best ways of presenting findings to multiple audiences such as professional, scientific, and educational organizations, employers, family members, and social media outlets.


This talk briefly describes the curriculum and different types of oral presentations produced by student participants while proposing that it is precisely the incorporation of elements such as character development, suspense, and connection to audiences–skills traditionally associated with the humanities and the arts–that makes the presentation of scientific concepts so helpful for students and audiences. Furthermore, using storytelling techniques to convey findings helps students better understand and articulate the ethical and social dimensions of the STEM projects in which they are engaged.

Two cultures? Using disciplinary parallels to build art-science-humanities initiatives (RP)

Mary Nucci, [email protected]

Rutgers University


C.P. Snow’s concept of two cultures has been challenged in the literature many times since its publication in 1959. Unfortunately, these divisions still exist in many college and university mindsets. Over the last two years (and during the COVID shutdown), collaborations between science, art, and humanities departments in three different schools at Rutgers University have created a suite of courses and programs that function to connect the related goals of these fields for students in a range of majors. We started our discussions across three different schools at Rutgers with the mindset of difference–science was different than art, science was different from the humanities, and there was no easy way to connect. But what we found was that there were more equivalencies across these disciplines in terms of their desired outcomes especially when structured in terms of solving “wicked problems” that allowed us to demonstrate the value of collaboration that encouraged faculty to go beyond two cultures. The talk will focus on how we started, how we collaborated, and where we are going with our collaborative programming and courses that encourage students to build their science knowledge by connecting with art and the humanities.

Developing the Mind of an Experimentalist (LT)

Arthur W. Bowman, [email protected]

Norfolk State University / Biology Department


This pedagogical approach aims to guide students in developing what might be called “the mind of an experimentalist.” This approach aligns with how new scientific knowledge has been acquired for hundreds of thousands of years. Going back to the time before formal education was established, humans acquired knowledge of the natural world through authentic trial-and-error experiences and unaided observations driven by efforts to survive. Motivation to obtain food and shelter, along with reproduction, was the primary impetus of what could be considered primeval learning. Within the past 150 years, students’ learning about the natural world has typically been teacher-centered and based upon the study of textbook information. This non-authentic approach to science instruction has resulted from the ease with which many people, especially in industrialized nations, have their food and shelter needs satisfied. By closely examining how historically-focuses trial-and-error experiences, modern laboratory experimentation, and natural world observations operate, an experimentally tending environment is created for students. 


Science instruction presented by continually questioning how knowledge of the world is obtained, along with how experimentation extends existing knowledge, will encourage the asking of deep questions as to how, why, when, and where scientific knowledge is obtained and verified. The asking of questions and research of protocols can foster students’ development of “the mind of an experimentalist.” This approach is suitable for teaching all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, as well as exploring ways that significant STEM-related societal problems can be identified, analyzed, and solved.


2:30    Session Block 5 – Knowledge and Skills that Support Civic Agency


Preparing Next Generation to Navigate through Misinformation (RP)

Debasmita Basu, [email protected]

Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School 


In today’s media landscape, visualizations are widely employed by magazines, newspapers, and television to simplify the presentation of complex information (Harper, 2004). Graphical representations of data effectively highlight essential numerical data that might otherwise go unnoticed or prove challenging to comprehend (Dur, 2012). However, alongside the increasing use of graphs in both print and digital media, misleading graphs are equally pervasive, leaving readers susceptible to false information. This prevalence poses a threat to democracy, particularly affecting individuals with limited educational opportunities and a lack of life experiences, who are more vulnerable to fake news and inaccurate graphs (De Keersmaecker & Roets, 2017). To address these concerns, it is crucial to introduce graphical literacy as a fundamental component of the educational curriculum, providing students with ample opportunities to engage with and interpret graphical data (Dur, 2012). Consequently, we conducted a study with middle school students to study their graphical comprehension when they encounter graphs published in public forums such as print and digital media and governmental websites. Particularly, we focused on students’ ability to extract data from graphs (reading the data), identify relationships between variables presented in graphs (reading between the data), and make inferences about underlying structures of information displayed (reading beyond the data). In this presentation, I will briefly present the findings of our study and extend the insights gained from the current study to build strategies through course design to equip future generations with the ability to understand scientific information presented in graphical forms in public domains


Addressing Food Insecurity In Diverse, Local Communities (RP)

Christopher Stuetzle,  [email protected]Cynthia Carlson, [email protected]; Elaine Ward, [email protected]; Eleanor Shonkoff, [email protected]; Sandra Raponi, [email protected]; Claire Aki-Cobham, [email protected]; Thavary Hay, [email protected]

Merrimack College 

The Food Justice Research and Action Cluster (FJRAC) at Merrimack College addresses the difficult challenge of food equity and food access in diverse, local communities surrounding the college. The problem of food insecurity has been prevalent for years, but it has become worse since the Covid-19 pandemic. Following Merrimack College’s investments to support community engagement and community-engaged research, FJRAC was formalized. FJRAC has advanced work on food insecurity in several ways, such as raising awareness (e.g., Food Justice Symposium); funding community-engaged undergraduate research (e.g., the Comer study, and identifying and mapping food insecurity metrics based on market prices and food access); student events (e.g., planting event at the Giving Garden, which is near the College and donates food to local pantries); and cultivating relationships with respective community partners that help combat food insecurity within their community (e.g., collaboration on the Merrimack Valley Food Systems Resiliency Partnership and“Mack Gives Back”). This presentation will discuss the ways in which the cluster: (a) supports local communities in working together and sharing resources, (b) educates undergraduate students about food justice, (c) directly addresses food insecurity through the provision of food (e.g., service-learning course requirements) and (d) seeks long-term solutions through community-engaged research incorporating undergraduate students. 

Planting the Seeds for Community Engagement through Media Arts (RP)

Patricia Amaral (Buskirk), [email protected] 

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa  School of Communication and Information


Media Arts is a developing interdisciplinary field of study that combines art, media technology, and communication. Media Arts at its best integrates artistic practice and community engagement with research, critical analysis, and communication about today’s contested and urgent capacious issues through creative and expressive use of various media forms. The Media Arts field has a tremendous potential to communicate across disciplines, institutions of higher education, and communities. As a creative Media Arts curriculum developer and instructor, the presenter will use Media Arts technology and principles in a brief recorded presentation to share examples of how applied designed media communication principles and skills can strengthen the students’ knowledge, community engagement, and specialization leading to fulfilling jobs. 


Through the overall curriculum and specific assignments integrating Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for non-profit organizations and community causes, students are encouraged to utilize their creative digital media knowledge and skills to create short-form media that are communicating pressing social and civic issues that make a difference in their own lives and in the society overall. This presentation will share specific media assignments and approaches designed to enhance critical thinking and strengthen the understanding of the need to care for humans and the environment in these times of crisis for democracy, environment, and human compassion. It will include short-form examples of student productions incorporating these values in areas of environmental impacts and social services.

Community-Engaged Undergraduate Research via Interdisciplinary Collaboration (LT)

KIm Pearson, [email protected]; S. Monisha Pulimood, [email protected]; Diane Bates, [email protected]

The College of New Jersey


We will present best practices and preliminary outcomes from the campus-wide implementation of a model for boosting undergraduate STEM literacy and civic engagement via interdisciplinary teaching and research collaboration. Students were engaged in research-related activities in two ways. First, students in STEM and non-STEM classes were paired to develop and implement action research projects in collaboration with a community partner to address a community-identified problem. Second, undergraduate student researchers conducted qualitative research on the experiences of students and community partners while computer science and interactive media students built and tested models for computing frameworks leveraging concepts from human computation, collective intelligence, and open collaboration to enable CAB model adopters to find interdisciplinary courses and project ideas of interest and to become motivated to participate in the dissemination and sustainability of hosted projects. Results indicate that both STEM and non-STEM students indicate that their scientific skills and knowledge increase over the course of a semester in which they participate in a CAB project. In the course of implementing the model, we learned a lot about the kinds of institutional support needed to facilitate these kinds of interdisciplinary efforts. This research has been supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (Award #1914869)


3:30 Session Block 6 – Advancing Equity and Access in STEM


STEM Education in the Associate in Arts Program at the University of Delaware:  Accessible, Equitable, and Impactful (LT)

Robin Kucharczyk, [email protected]

University of Delaware


The University of Delaware’s Associate in Arts Program (AAP) brings educational equity and access to students across the state. Each of its three campuses provides a route to a UD A.A. degree, after which students can transition to the Newark campus to complete their baccalaureate degree. This opportunity is facilitated by the state’s SEED tuition scholarship program for Delaware high school graduates, and the program enrolls a student body that is more racially and socioeconomically diverse than that in Newark. As part of their degree curriculum, AAP students complete ten credits of Natural Sciences and Mathematics courses.


I teach both terms of introductory chemistry and a course, Snack Science, on the science of food and cooking. All three of these courses have advanced STEM learning, each in its own unique way. In CHEM103 I advocated for equity in instructional time for my section and now have a peer-led workshop session attached to the course. This course also utilizes graded student reflections. CHEM104 was taught in a hybrid format this past term so that students on the Georgetown campus would have access to the course and could complete the two-term sequence before transitioning to Newark. Snack Science covers basic biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as the structure and function of food biomolecules, but students also engage with the unexpected:  genetics/genetic engineering, equity and inclusion in the food industry, climate science, and food security.


Online Science Course Development: Increasing Affordability and Accessibility (RP)

Dorothy Salinas, [email protected]

County College of Morris 

This presentation will address techniques to increase the accessibility and affordability of online science courses. These techniques remove barriers to student success and promote diversity by eliminating geographic limitations, supporting disabled students, and promoting enrollment of students from varying socioeconomic statuses. Examples of techniques to lower course costs include the selection of Open Educational Resources (OER), the development of an OER virtual microscope, and the elimination of a laboratory kit through the development of hands-on experiments utilizing common household items.


Larger than themselves: A latent content analysis of students’ success story journals toward civic identity (LT)

John Osias Jacaban, [email protected]

Philippine Science High School – Ilocos Region Campus


Engagement in a community project as an academic endeavor can develop civic identity. This study uses latent content analysis to examine the concept of civic identity that emerged from the 16 success stories journals of Grade 12 students in the Philippine Science High School – Ilocos Region Campus based on Bengtsson’s (2016) four-step-process data procedure. Notably, this study portrayed a drawing-from-the-well relationship between three themes. Being Committed embodies the goals of the community project that deepens students’ willingness to improve the quality of life of the people. The second theme, Being Adaptive, remarks on the flexibility and capability of the students to manage their time and resources. The role played by these themes is essential in the manifestation of Being Responsible, for making the project successful and beneficial for the people. With this study, teachers can develop an effective community project toolkit and provide a meaningful civic engagement and leadership experience to their students. This study contributes to understanding the critical role of civic engagement in enhancing civic identity, which is essential for building a strong civil society, and the need for creating effective civic education programs to promote active citizenship. Moreover, the study can inform decision-making in supporting students in developing their civic engagement and leadership skills.

4:00 Session Block 7 – STEM Participation: Lessons from Indigenous Serving Institutions


Engagement Pedagogies in Support of Democracy (LT)

Ulla Hasager, [email protected]

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, College of Social Sciences 


High-impact practices such as service learning, internships, and undergraduate research have a strong potential for building civic capacity through connecting disciplinary content in academic fields with the context of lived experiences for self and others. Through inquiry and action inside and outside of traditional educational settings, this can create opportunities for expanding competencies, knowledge, understanding, and responsibility. The presenter will share thoughts, experiences, and examples of transformative education in Hawaiʻi higher education, developed over almost three decades of research and of practice in civic engagement. Recent inspiring and collaborative research and practice in SENCER-related initiatives such as the “Transcending Barriers to Success” and the IKE Alliance (Indigenous Knowledges, Encouragements, Engagements, and Experiences) have contributed greatly to this work, as has an ongoing, joint, research project focused on the potential of engaged pedagogies in strengthening civic-mindedness and a culture of democracy. This latter research builds on surveys and focus-group discussions with students and is performed in collaboration with Dr. Ingrid Geier from Salzburg University of Teacher Education, Austria.


It is essential for the 21st century that we “learn to live together” locally and globally in the sense described by Delors in his “fourth pillar” of education almost 30 years ago. But to learn to live together, we must know how to create partnerships for community and educational improvement. We need to be able to create learning experiences for students to develop positive attitudes, and we need to hone in on the competencies needed today. 


The IKE Alliance

Amy Shachter and the IKE Leadership Team

The Indigenous Knowledges, Engagements, and Experiences (IKE) Alliance addresses STEM participation challenges for Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Native Pacific Islander (NAAN-NHPI) students. The IKE Alliance is a collective of Native and Non-Native individuals associated with organizations (including colleges, universities, and tribal governments) committed to 1) increasing NAAN-NHPI student representation in STEM that reflects the population of the Nation; 2) achieving systemic change by Indigenizing STEM education in IKE Alliance institutions; and 3) establish and expand a sustainable IKE Alliance for transformation beyond year five. Our four-strand approach includes a Sense of Belonging, a Sense of Place, a Sense of Responsibility and Reciprocity, and a Sense of Becoming that is deeply rooted in local community relationships motivated by respect for culture, history, values, and community knowledge. Our approach has five objectives: 1) take full advantage of both Indigenous and Western knowledge systems to tackle grand challenges; 2) eave Indigenous science, culture, and community into best practices in STEM education; 3) support STEM NAAN-NHPI student leadership through the IKE Alliance Student Corps; 4) create a collective infrastructure to support an Indigenized Networked Communities model; 5) Develop innovative and culturally appropriate assessment instruments. We invite your participation as we listen and learn.

One of the benefits of the Alliance is that we have supported each other as we work to make progress toward these goals at our various institutions. Multilevel institutional partners (University of Hawai‘i (UH), Humboldt State University (HSU), University of Arkansas (UA)), George Mason University (GMU), University of North Carolina, Ashville (UNCA), Texas Woman’s University (TWU), and Santa Clara University (SCU). Today, we have a few Alliance members with us.

Sunday, August 6


1:00 Workshop


Building Community, Organizing for Change: The Importance of Systems Thinking

Don Greer

Greer Black Company, Albert Linderman Sagis Corporation, Jonathan Bucki

Dendros Group


Using their broad experience in supporting non-profit organizations in achieving durable, systemic, change, the professionals of the Dendros Group have guided the National Center’s strategic planning and leadership development since 2011. They have supported our efforts to build mission-driven, values-centered leadership and planning efforts aligned with the goals and ideals of our educational “community of transformation.”


In this most challenging and volatile time for educational institutions, this presentation will explore emerging strategies and models that illuminate the critical role of systems thinking in managing and achieving durable and lasting change using the example of a Collective Impact initiative in Rapid City, South Dakota. The team will consider how models can be an important tool for learning, challenging assumptions, and identifying high-leverage variables in the systems we hope to impact.


2:30 Session Block 8 


Reframing science education discourses through cross-national dialogues–a conversation with  

Geraldine Mooney Simmie, [email protected]

Director EPI•STEM National Centre of STEM Education, School of Education, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, University of Limerick 


Sara Tolbert, [email protected]

Associate Professor of Science and Environmental Education, University of Canterbury, SENCER Diplomat

In this session, framing their discussion around the SENCER ideals, Geraldine Mooney Simmie and Sara Tolbert address 4 recurring themes in science education discourse: (1) teaching and learning, (2) problem-solving, (3) civic engagement, and (4) inclusion. Through critical-feminist, problem-posing dialogue, Geraldine and Sara reflect on how these common discourses can be re-framed toward more justice-oriented, caring, and democratic science (and) education.



3:30 Session Block 9


GIS Analysis of Redlining on Urban Forest Composition in Syracuse, NY (LT)

Christopher Badurek, [email protected]

State University of New York at Cortland


What impact does the history of redlining have on forest composition in neighborhoods of cities in upstate New York State? The practice of redlining, or discriminatory lending practices, as evidenced by the 1930s-era Homeowners Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) maps is well known to have affected neighborhood property values. The web GIS tools from the Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America project are integrated with urban forestry data sources here to examine potential linkages between the legacy of ‘redlined’ properties and their forest composition. The Mapping Inequality data are scanned images of the HOLC maps, downloadable GIS data files, and in web GIS data format (e.g., GeoJSON) for direct placement into web GIS applications. Spatial analysis of current property values and percent tree canopy cover for nine neighborhoods was conducted: five neighborhoods were classified as Red (undesirable) and four neighborhoods were classified as Green (highest quality) in the City of Syracuse. Results indicate a substantial difference in tree canopy cover as well as in corresponding property value. Why is tree canopy cover an important aspect of measuring equality in the urban environment? According to Murphy (2022), tree canopy cover is a reliable indicator of inequalities in property values, homeownership rates, and racial segregation in the City of Rochester. In addition, disparities in tree canopy cover also include relationships to differences in public health outcomes and resilience to climate change.


From the Liberal Art of Science to the Liberating Art of Science (LT)

Gordon Uno, [email protected]

University of Oklahoma


This is a short introduction to a new model of scientific literacy that is student-centered, holistic and focuses on the preparation of all students to engage with science and science-related issues and problems in their personal, professional, or civic lives, regardless of their academic major or future career.      


4:00 Closing Keynote


Cathy Manduca


Education for a Sustainable and Just Society – Linking Values, Equity, Science and Action

Science and Civic Engagement is a cornerstone of education for a sustainable and just society. This talk will reflect on the foundational values and principles of NCSCE and on how they are tied to the broader goals of STEM education and of higher education. Viewed in this context, what do we learn about our own practices and our role in contributing to the larger goal of higher education for a sustainable and just society? 

Dr. Cathy Manduca founded the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College in 2001 and served as Director until 2020. SERC supports communities of educators in improving education through peer learning and the creation of online resources. This work included a strong emphasis on Earth education and its relationship to societal issues. Dr. Manduca’s scholarship focuses on understanding faculty learning and strategies for improving teaching practice. She has also written about the nature of geoscience expertise and the scope and purpose of geoscience education. Currently, her interests include community-scale educational ecosystems and the role of education in creating sustainable, just communities and society.

Dr. Manduca was the Executive Director of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers from 2007 to 2019. She served on the Board of Science Education for the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, as well as in the elected leadership for the American Geophysical Union and AAAS Education Section. She is a fellow of the AAAS, the American Geophysical Union, and the Geological Society of America, and a past recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s Award for Excellence in Earth and Space Education. She received her B.A. in Geology from Williams College and her Ph.D. in Geology from the California Institute of Technology 

5:00 Presentation of the Wm. E. Bennett Awards for Civically Engaged Science Education




SENCER Summer Institute 2022

August 5-7, 2022

Critical Contexts and Critical Pedagogies for STEM Learning



SENCER 22nd Summer Institute combined 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:


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 trust in 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, both national and global, 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, push back against the threats to both science and democracy, and empower our students and communities as civically and scientifically capable agents of change?  Our keynote speakers represent scholars and organizational leaders who truly represent the SENCER “ideals” in their work to advance equity, justice, social responsibility and human well-being through research-based policy, advocacy and teaching.


CONNIEL MALEK Executive Director, True Costs Initiative

 Embracing the Intersections: 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.

For more information on the work of TCI read their report on current initiatives Re-envisioning Technical Support and What Constitutes “Expertise.” 

Bryan Dewsbury Associate Professor of Biology, Florida International University

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 Florida International University where he also is an Associate Director of the STEM Transformation Institute. He received his Bachelors degree in Biology from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and his Masters and PhD in Biology from Florida International University in Miami, FL. He is the Principal Investigator of the Science Education And Society (SEAS) program, where his team conducts research on the social context of education. He is a Fellow of the John N. Gardner Institute and the RIOS (Racially-Inclusive Open Science) institute. He conducts faculty development and support for institutions interested in transforming their educational practices pertaining to creating inclusive environments and in this regard has worked with over 100 institutions across North America, United Kingdom and West Africa. He is a co-author on the upcoming book ‘Norton’s Guide to Inclusive Teaching’ and author of the upcoming book ‘What then shall I teach? – Rethinking equity in higher education’. He is the founder of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Deep Teaching Residency, a national workshop aimed at supporting faculty in transforming their classroom to more meaningfully incorporate inclusive practices. Bryan is originally from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and proudly still calls the twin island republic home.

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

Thinking Like a Movement in Science Education 

In the past decade, we have witnessed and experienced climate disasters, a worldwide pandemic, and countless other wicked socioscientific problems. Entangled in these wicked problems of the Anthropocene is the exacerbation of historical disparities, including racial, gender, and economic oppression. It is undeniable that socio-ecological and socioscientific problems are centrally political problems. What is the role of science education in a complex, entangled and politicised world? In this plenary session, drawing inspiration from social movement theory and from justice-oriented science education research, I explore the radical possibilities for thinking like a movement in science education. I consider the implications for our teaching, our research, and our involvement in professional organizations, schools, and communities.

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 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), co-director of University of Canterbury’s Learning for Earth Futures research cluster, and co-director of Ōtautahi Food Justice Research Collaborative at the UC Community and Urban Resilience Initiative


Bill Walsh  Founder Health Building Network, (now Exec Director of Passport Foundation as of April ‘22) 

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:







Archived Summer Institute Information

2021 SENCER Summer Institute

2020 SENCER Summer Institute


The 2020 SENCER Summer Institute WAS redesigned as a virtual meeting July 30-August 2, 2020. It featured asynchronous and synchronous presentations, videos, workshops, and keynotes    FOR MORE INFORMATION, PROGRAM DETAILS, AND RESOURCES  CLICK HERE!

2019 SENCER Summer Institute

SENCER Summer Institute 2018

SENCER Summer Institute 2017

2016 SENCER Summer Institute

Roosevelt University

The 2016 SENCER Summer Institute was hosted by Roosevelt University from July 28th – August 1, 2016.

The central theme of this year’s Institute was transformation. Transformation is expressed throughout several facets of our work in 2016, from the continued progress in our SENCER, SENCER-ISE and Engaging Mathematics projects to our pursuit of opportunities emerging from new partnerships and initiatives, and our organization being profiled in a recent USC monograph by Adrianna Kezar and Sean Gehrke as a Community of Transformation in STEM reform.

The major aims for this year’s program included conversations about the STEM reform ecosystem, examples of SENCER work on campus and of the SENCER approach in real-world problems, and assessment of SENCER work. Other topics covered in the 2016 program include:

  1. Civic Intersections of STEM and Humanities
  2. Communities of Transformation: Maximizing Impact
  3. Public Engagement with Science
  4. Foregrounding Quantitative Literacy in Civic Life
  5. Science and Technology for Social Good
  6. Leading Change: Aligning Institutional and Personal Priorities

Program Book

Download (PDF, 2.5MB)

2015 SENCER Summer Institute

Alden Hall WPIThe 2015 SENCER Summer Institute was hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute from July 30th – August 3, 2015.

2015 marked the 15th SENCER Summer Institute and the 15th anniversary of SENCER, an occasion which gave us the opportunity to collectively reflect on where SENCER has been and on the direction of SENCER going forward.

The past 15 years of SENCER have yielded important accomplishments toward our goal of expanding civic capacity by applying the science of learning the learning of science. More than 2,500 educators and students from over 500 institutions from 45 states and 9 countries have participated in our annual Summer Institutes and Washington Symposia. Our efforts have resulted in 50 model courses, curricular approaches to improve science learning, 16 backgrounders, syntheses of the issues we use to teach science, and nearly 100 papers in our International Journal. All of this in the service of the many thousands of students, faculty, and communities impacted by the work of the National Center through educators’ participation in these endeavors.

SENCER’s path forward includes several new approaches toward accomplishing our goals. In addition to continuing work on the SENCER-ISE, and Engaging Mathematics initiatives, we are identifying further outgrowths for SENCER programs. We are also identifying new opportunities for participation in SENCER symposia, both at the regional level, through a focus on our regional SENCER Centers for Innovation, and with new national meetings in the coming years to further develop SENCER practitioners.

Program Book

Download (PDF, 4.16MB)

2014 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2014The 2014 SENCER Summer Institute was hosted by the University of North Carolina Asheville from July 31 – August 4, 2014.

The program for the Institute included all-Institute plenary sessions, workshops on effective pedagogies, examples of successful campus and community applications, and opportunities to meet formal and informal educators, administrators, students, and others from across the country interested in contributing to a civically engaged society and the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

In response to suggestions made on the SSI 2013 evaluations, we also introduced an orientation program to the Summer Institute, held just prior to the opening plenary address and gala welcome dinner on July 31. The program included discussions on the history of SENCER, the theory behind our work and initiatives, and how to make the best of all that the Institute offers.

The Institute program also featured many opportunities for participants to present information on their own work to improve STEM education, including concurrent sessions and two poster sessions, one focusing on community programs, and another focusing on campus programs. SENCER provided teams the opportunity for personal consultations with leaders to work intensely on the implementation of team-planned project(s).

2013 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2013The 2013 SENCER Summer Institute was held from August 1-5 in California, hosted by Santa Clara University. Santa Clara University (SCU) has been an integral part of SENCER since 2001, and has hosted several Summer Institutes.

Santa Clara is also the host institution for the SENCER Center for Innovation-West, co-directed by Amy Shachter and Steve Bachofer. SCU faculty and administrators have applied the SENCER approach in impressive ways, and will be sharing the results of that work with colleagues at the Institute.

During the Institute, SENCER offered sessions designed particularly for the needs of newcomers, and those with advanced experience. A suite of follow-up activities for teams supported the post-Institute work back on campus during the fall following SSI 2013.

SSI 2013 RosesThe Institute program also featured many opportunities for participants to present information on their own work to improve STEM education, including concurrent sessions and a poster reception. Networking opportunities and designated team time, often noted by past participants as two of the most valuable parts of the Institute, were prioritized in planning. Specific sessions were determined based on needs and interests of invited participants. SENCER provided teams the opportunity for personal consultations with leaders to work intensely on the implementation of team-planned project(s).

In addition to the programming detailed above, the Institute featured sessions on programs such as the newly announced SENCER-ISE II project, new collaborations with national organizations, reflections on science and human rights, lessons learned from activities of the SCEWestNet (funded by the Keck Foundation), new SENCER regional centers, a program with Magna Publications to create faculty development support webinars, and more.

2012 SENCER Summer Institute

August 2-6, 2012SSI 2012

Santa Clara University (CA)

The annual SENCER Summer Institute is an opportunity for a community of educators, administrators, students, and community leaders to gather to consider how best to engage students in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics and the civic issues in which they play an integral role.

The 2012 SENCER Summer Institute will be held in Santa Clara, CA and hosted by Santa Clara University.

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement invites participation by educators, administrators, and students who believe they can benefit by learning about the SENCER approach and from involvement in the SENCER community.

We welcome teams in varying stages of planning, development, or revision of courses or programs, as well as those interested in sharing results of established projects. All disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences, are represented at the Institutes.

2011 SENCER Summer Institute

Hosted by Butler UniversitySSI 2011, Indianapolis, IN

The annual SENCER Summer Institute is an opportunity for a community of educators, administrators, students, and community leaders to gather to consider how best to engage students in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics and the civic issues in which they play an integral role.

The 2011 SENCER Summer Institute was held in Indianapolis, IN, and hosted by Butler University. Faculty from Butler University have been deeply involved with SENCER for several years, and have applied the approach of connecting course content to civic issues across the curriculum. A team of faculty from Butler were also honored for their work with the 2010 team William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science.

The Institute featured presentations by educators, administrators, and students from across the United States, representing a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds and selected civic issues. Institute speakers included Dr. Jamie Merisotis (Lumina Foundation), Dr. Lynn Luckow (Craigslist Foundation), Dr. Barbara Tewksbury (Hamilton College), Dr. Catherine Hurt Middlecamp (University of Wisconsin Madison), and Dr. Jay Labov (National Research Council).

We invite you to explore some of the many resources that emerged from the Institute that are linked on this page. If you have any questions about these or participation in future Institutes, please do not hesitate to contact SENCER staff.

2010 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2010Hosted by the University of North Carolina at Asheville

SENCER welcomed nearly 300 invited participants and facilitators to the 2010 SENCER Summer Institute at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. As always, the Institute featured thought-provoking sessions, vibrant discussion, and energetic planning for the coming academic year. 180 SSI participants were new to SENCER, and about 55 of these newcomers were associated with the GLISTEN (Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network) Collaborative Clusters. Participants represented two- and four-year colleges and universities, community organizations and other non-profit groups, and government agencies. Alumni participants included Debra Meyer (South Africa), Mzia Zhvania and Nadezhda Japaridze (Republic of Georgia), who offered a session with Karen Oates on international SENCER initiatives and partnerships.

The tenth SENCER Summer Institute (SSI) addressed both new directions and recognized work being done on campus at every level of adaptation and development. Plenary speakers David Burns and Barbara Tewskbury particularly focused on the history and growth of two programs over ten years, SENCER and On the Cutting Edge, in their talks on July 29 and July 30, respectively. In her welcoming remarks from the National Science Foundation, Karen Oates discussed the idea and importance of community relevant to SENCER and encouraging change.

Another plenary session addressed an area of great interest for educators developing SENCER courses and programs, climate change and its impacts. Sharon LeDuc of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Jay Labov of the National Research Council, and Cathy Middlecamp of the University of Wisconsin-Madison led the discussion that touched on the current state of climate change and recollections of applications of the topic to courses. A plenary symposium led by Ellen Goldey and Byron McCane of Wofford College addressed a topic of growing importance to the SENCER community, the inclusion of students in curriculum and program development. Eleven students with varying backgrounds, institutional affiliations, and experiences with SENCER joined Goldey and McCane to share their thoughts and engage in a discussion with participants on the topic. Please see Shanna Dell’s piece in today’s eNews for more on the topic.

Bill Bennett’s inspiring closing remarks covered a lifetime of concern for medical education and curricula that will make for better clinicians. He also called for increased articulation between college faculty and school administrators, and spoke generally on the importance of the work members of the SENCER community are doing on campus.

Three new additions to the Institute program were meant to deepen the experience for all participants. Work sessions replaced and improved upon last year’s colloquia, with dedicated group work time and team-focused activities particularly for newcomers. Work sessions for alumni touched on areas of advanced applications and new initiatives. A Pre-Institute Intensive Team Planning Day was an option for teams who were interested in spending additional time together, with a SENCER consultant, to refine and expand project plans. A special track on pre-service teacher education was led by Richard Duschl, and supplemented by participant presentations of their own work with teacher education. Concurrent sessions and poster presentations highlighted campus projects and pedagogy. Campus reports included topics such as food, pre-medical education, learning communities, sustainability on campus, and many more.

2009 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2009

Hosted by Harold Washington College
Chicago, IL

SENCER Summer Institute 2009 participants-all 276 strong-learned, collaborated, discussed, and planned with enthusiasm earlier this month in Chicago. They took advantage of the very full days to accomplish goals for the coming academic year and used their free time to explore the wonderful city setting for the five-day meeting.

Harold Washington College (HWC), host institution for the SENCER Center for Innovation-Midwest, also served as the host for this year’s Institute. HWC, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, has applied the SENCER approach to numerous courses, addressing topics that have direct relevance for students, such as urban asthma, childhood obesity, and genetically modified foods. Moving the Institutes around the country has opened opportunities for intensive local participation, especially by teams from the host institutions. SSI 2009 embraced many members of the HWC faculty. Other local institutions represented among the participants included Kennedy-King College, Harry S. Truman College, Malcolm X College, Roosevelt University, Northeastern Illinois University, Harper College, Triton College, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Morton College. Each concurrent session and the poster session featured a sampling of presentations by local faculty and administrators on their campus-based SENCER projects.

The Institute days were a mix of programming, including concurrent sessions that featured presentations by alumni, colloquia that had been specifically designed to address needs of new SENCER attendees or alumni participants, plenary sessions to engage on topics of common interest, and networking opportunities. In addition to the examples of campus work presented during concurrent session periods, a poster session on Saturday, August 8th featured forty-five examples of campus adaptations of the SENCER approach. The more informal networking time included the opportunity to connect with regional SENCER Centers for Innovation. The Institute also featured a set of half-day workshops that offered participants the chance to focus intensely on particular areas of interest, including assessment, public health, interdisciplinarity, sustainability, and establishing partnerships with community-based organizations. Nearly half of this year’s participants elected to participate in these extra sessions.

Plenary topics included a discussion on interdisciplinary collaborations by Byron McCane of Wofford College, a session led by Barbara Tewksbury of Hamilton College on choosing learning goals and selecting strategies to achieve the objectives, a reflection by John Bransford of the University of Washington on the work How People Learn ten years after its initial publication, and a joint talk on sustainability by Jay Labov of the National Research Council and Cathy Middlecamp of the University of Wisconsin Madison. We were also fortunate to have Jan Shakowsky, a distinguished leader and member of the United States House of Representatives from the 9th district of Illinois, as a luncheon speaker on science, education, and public policy.

SSI 2009 featured several new additions to the SENCER resource collection. Two courses, Cellular and Molecular Biology: Cancer by Kelly Wentz-Hunter of Roosevelt University (IL) and Undergraduate Biochemistry Through Public Health Issues by Matthew Fisher of Saint Vincent College (PA), were selected as additions to the SENCER model series. New featured backgrounders include “Service-Learning: Reconciling Research and Teaching and Tackling Capacious Issues” by Robert Franco of Kapi’olani Community College (HI), “Diffusion of SENCER – Leading Change on Campus” by DonnaJean Fredeen of Southern Connecticut State University, and “Well, I Thought I Might Learn Something: Going Beyond the Limits of Science” by Byron McCane, professor of religion at Wofford College (SC).

SENCER honored leaders in the community during a dinner held at Harold Washington College and catered by the Washburne Culinary Institute of the City Colleges of Chicago. Both Deidre Lewis, acting chancellor of the City Colleges and John Wozniak, president of Harold Washington College, extended welcomes as the hosts for the Institute. The keynote speaker for the evening was Bill Bennett, who recounted the path he took to first following an interest in science through a life-long involvement in engaging students in the STEM disciplines. Bill is a senior scholar for SENCER and NCSCE, and the first recipient of an award named for him by NCSCE, the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science. Newly elected SENCER Leadership Fellows in attendance at the Institute were recognized by David Ferguson, the chair of the National Fellowship Board. These Fellows included David Rutschman of Northeastern Illinois University, Helen Doss of Malcolm X College, and Donyel Williams and Christopher Sabino, both of Harold Washington College. Debra Meyer of the University of Pretoria in South Africa spoke to Fellows about the importance of internationalizing their work and the benefits of participating in international collaborations. Fellows in attendance also participated in a business meeting during the Institute to discuss SENCER initiatives over the next year and to offer their thoughts on projects and programs.

2008 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2008Hosted by Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

The annual SENCER Summer Institute is an opportunity for a community of educators, administrators, students, and community leaders to gather to consider how best to engage students in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics and the civic issues in which they play an integral role.

The 2008 SENCER Summer Institute was hosted by Santa Clara University, which also hosted Summer Institutes from 2001-2006. Santa Clara University is the host Institution for the SENCER Center for Innovation-West.

The Institute featured presentations by educators, administrators, and students from across the United States, representing a diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds and selected civic issues.

2007 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2007Hosted by the University of Southern Maine
Portland, ME

The 2007 SENCER Summer Institute passed quickly, as always, with full days, much discussion, and hard work done by all who spent the early part of August in Portland, Maine. Warm afternoons saw groups of participants and facilitators scattered around the university quad and seeking shade under the sloping white tent, using the outdoor areas as impromptu classrooms. Others clustered around tables on the mezzanine of the conference center, taking advantage of the cooler area as a place to work on team plans.

For the first time, the Institute was held on the campus of the University of Southern Maine. Our host institution has sent teams to the Institute and regional meetings many times, and has taken the SENCER approach as a guide for course development during the reform of their general education system. Honors courses have been created with the SENCER ideals in mind. A course sequence on “The Body” has been launched with success. Many other courses, concerned with oceans and the environment, are also operating on campus.

The decision to change the location of the Institute this year was made to accommodate attendees from smaller, local institutions who might not otherwise be able to attend the national meeting. A number of new teams and individual representatives from the New England and Midatlantic regions participated this year. In total, around 300 people participated in SSI 2007, representing 94 domestic and foreign institutions concerned with the improvement of STEM education. Nearly fifty percent of the attendees had participated in a prior Summer Institute. SSI 2007 was different in many ways from past Institutes, but for all of the changes, the core motivation and attitude remained constant. The group of educators, administrators, students, and other officials who attended the Institute were thoughtful, energetic, and determined in their efforts to work toward greater student understanding and achievement. Cora Marrett, head of the directorate of education and human resources for the National Science Foundation opened her plenary talk with a title that reflected the goals of all who attended, “the engagement of learners.”

The maturity of the work of the SENCER community is evident with just a glance through the Notes on the Program. More alumni presentations were submitted and accepted than ever before, and the topics covered address a broader range of pedagogies and STEM issues. Several of the courses reported on during the concurrent sessions were supported by Post-Institute Implementation Awards, which were granted for the first time last fall. Three new model courses, highlighted in both the July e-newsletter and in sessions at the Institute, also indicate the quality of work in the community. Two, the “emerging models” – Science on the Connecticut Coast (Southern Connecticut State University) and Slow Food (Beloit College) – grew specifically out of SENCER work. The third, The Power of Water, is a featured model course, and the result of work by alumni at Longwood University.

The Institute program included activities specifically designed for people who are at an advanced level of their work with SENCER, such as a plenary session on planning for further assessment of SENCER, offered by Rich Keeling. Discussion groups on topics like introductory STEM courses, pre-medical education, two-year schools, formative assessment, strategies for deans and department chairs, and social science allowed both alumni and novices to work on areas of concern for the future phases of SENCER work.

Many Institute attendees also chose to report on their campus work by displaying a poster during one of the scheduled presentation times. Two separate sessions were set aside to allow more display space and time to discuss posters with colleagues, as well as to accommodate the increased interest in participating in this year’s session. Forty posters featured new and developed projects, and included a number that focused on work done by faculty at the University of Southern Maine and students in SENCERized courses. Students displayed posters on projects relating to HIV/AIDS, epidemics, and sustainability. Copies of many of the actual posters are available on our website.

We were fortunate to have plenary speakers who considered topics relevant to both alumni and newcomers. As mentioned earlier in this article, Cora Marrett of the National Science Foundation discussed improving learning for all students. Barbara Tewksbury returned to give her popular talk on designing a SENCER course, while Rich Keeling, Matt Fisher, Alix Fink, and Terry McGuire discussed assessment techniques. Robert Full, who also spoke at SSI 2006, gave a “mesmerizing” and “inspiring” address, according to participants. John Bransford, who was not able to be in Maine in person due to a last-minute emergency, was kind enough to deliver his talk live, virtually – another first for the Institute.

The Institute was both proceeded by and followed by special-topic seminars. Last year, we introduced SENCER’s involvement in the scholarship of teaching and learning with a plenary session directed to alumni who were looking to deepen their work. In the fall of 2006, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement became an affiliate of the Carnegie Foundation, strengthening that collaboration. This year, invited participants took part in an intensive, day-and-a-half Pre-Institute Workshop on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, led by Spencer Benson and Matt Fisher, a Carnegie scholar and senior fellow for the NCSCE. The workshop was only the beginning of a year of work for the participants, who will continue their research projects during the year and report on them next summer.

Post-Institute Workshops allowed participants to spend an afternoon focusing on an area of interest. Though briefly interrupted by a lightning strike and hotel evacuation, they encouraged thoughtful discussion on a number of topics, including grant writing (Myles Boylan), writing in SENCER courses (Cathy Middlecamp), new avenues of assessment (Rich Keeling), course design (Barbara Tewksbury), and K-12 education. The last topic, K-12 education and SENCER, was considered during a dynamic symposium that brought together specialists in many fields of education to work through the question. Richard Duschl of Rutgers University, the chair of the committee that drafted Taking Science to School, a National Academies publication that explores learning processes of children, effective teaching methods, teacher preparation, and professional development as key factors in student success participated, as did Jean Moon, the director of the Board on Science Education. Jay Labov represented the National Research Council. A number of educator from high schools and colleges also took part: Erin Pittman and Kevin Varano (SciTech High), Susan Mooney, Karen Anderson (Stonehill College), Stephanie McNamara (former education student, Stonehill College), and Adrienne Wootters (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts). Karen Oates, David Burns, and Ellen Mappen represented SENCER and the NCSCE. We hope that the discussions begun at the Summer Institute in this and other sessions will continue this year and grow into solid projects and collaborations.

2006 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2006Hosted by Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

Participants predict that they will reach a large number of students with work initiated at SSI 2006 – over 50,000 undergraduate students during this academic year alone. Approximately 37,000 of those students are expected to be non-STEM majors. The number of undergraduates reached is not, however, the only population who will be touched by work emerging from SSI 2006. An estimated 1,300 graduate students will also be exposed to the SENCER ideals through teaching assistantships, instruction and upper-level courses. Courses developed or revised at the Institute will also be used to teach approximately 5,000 students enrolled in pre-service teacher education curricula, who will then be prepared to encourage civic engagement and interest in the STEM subjects in their students. The results, which respond to specific questions that the National Science Foundation requires, represent the responses of participants working on SENCER projects at 80 institutions. When tabulating results for institutions (as opposed to categories concerning individual faculty members), responses were checked so that only one set of numbers represented each institution.

In addition to team time and interactions with colleagues, which are traditionally areas that inspire new ideas and collaborations, much of the base for innovations emerged from attending plenary sessions and concurrent sessions. One participant commented that his team gained “a sense of purpose” during the time spent together at SSI 2006. Concurrent sessions offered a range of topics, strategies, and presenters – as core faculty, alumni, and a strong group of new participants presented on topics ranging across disciplines and pedagogies. Participants noted as a special benefit of attendance the community that encouraged. A participant new to SENCER left with “an understanding of the opportunities and boundaries for making progress on changing the culture of undergraduate science,” and another gained “a fresh perspective and ideas about instructional problems, insight on active learning, a sense of shared challenges, and increased confidence.” This year’s SENCER community comprised:

  • Participants from 80 institutions
  • Four representatives from historically black colleges and universities, 7 from Hispanic serving institutions, and 26 from minority serving institutions
  • Faculty, administrators, students, and representatives from foundations and learned societies covering all disciplines – the STEM subjects as well as the humanities, social sciences, education, and visual arts
  • Participants from two-year colleges (33), four-year colleges (55), associate’s colleges (6), baccalaureate colleges (20), master’s college/universities (56), research universities (53), high schools (3), and other institutions (11) (n.b. – some participants chose more than one category)
  • Newcomers: 64% of Institute attendees had never been to a SSI before (and 86% of those new attendees cited increased interest in SENCER – 11.5% had the same level of interest)

Participants responded positively in general to the settings and general SENCER features of the Institute, such as the newsletter, the materials provided before, during, and after SSI, the website, and the resources available online connected to the Institute. Strong support of the SENCER project and a commitment to involvement in future activities was also expressed.

  • 81% of participants overall reported increased interest in SENCER after participating in SSI 2006, and 18% noted that they were as interested in SENCER as they were prior to the Institute
  • 86% of you responded favorably to the idea of a SENCER membership
  • A majority plans to be active in regional organizations over the next year by attending a regional meeting (68%). Many expressed willingness to host meetings, present sessions or posters, and publicize SENCER regional activities to colleagues on campus who have not previously attended a SENCER function (58%).

We also collected valuable information on the future direction of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and SENCER. This feedback will be helpful to us as we prepare an application for continued funding from the National Science Foundation in early January and plan our activities for the year. The greatest interest was expressed for developing new models, introducing a searchable database, strengthening regional organizations, and offering mid-year SENCER events. These are part of our plans for the coming year. Faculty are encouraged to develop or recommend a model course, apply to attend the Capitol Hill Symposium and Poster Session, organize a regional meeting, and check the SENCER website regularly.

2005 SENCER Summer Institute

Hosted by Santa Clara UniversitySSI 2005
Santa Clara, California

Participants in the SENCER Summer Institute 2005 (SSI 2005) estimated that their SENCER-related work would affect over 53,000 students within the next two years. This number includes undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at a variety of higher education institutions across the nation and around the world. Here’s how it breaks down: Overall, respondents indicated that 39,996 undergraduate students and 895 graduate students in an estimated 455 courses/labs could be affected this year alone by work done or ideas shared at this Institute – an average of seven courses/labs, 606 undergraduate students and 39 graduate students per institution. When participants considered the future impact on their campuses, the aggregate numbers jump to 53,430 undergraduate students and 2,074 graduate students in 1,572 courses/labs.

We gathered these rather impressive numbers based on answers to our annual SSI evaluation. Each year, we ask the participants in the Institutes to help us gather data regarding our project and to help us evaluate our program. We solicit their appraisals of every feature of the Institute – from the intellectual quality, usefulness of their experience to lodging, facilities, and transportation. We depend on the candid responses to these evaluations to inform the shape and content of following Institutes and to provide us with their valuable perspective. This thoughtful feedback, both positive and negative, is essential to our work.

The evaluations consist of two parts: 1.) required information for the National Science Foundation and 2.) an appraisal of the SENCER Summer Institute program. 282 participants were eligible to complete the evaluations. After compiling information from the 191 returned evaluations – representing a 68% response rate – a clearer view of how the Institute worked for all of its participants is taking shape. Here are some findings from our initial analysis with the greater SENCER community.

The overall registration for SSI 2005 was 327 faculty, administrators, staff, and students representing 106 institutions from 30 U.S. states and five foreign nations. There were 169 women and 155 men in attendance, of whom 7% were African American, 4% were Asian American/Pacific Islander, 2% were Hispanic, 72% were White/not of Hispanic origin, and 1% selected “other” (14% of registrants chose not to respond regarding their ethnicity).

Of those individuals who submitted completed evaluations, 35% represented four-year colleges, 33% represented comprehensive universities, 18% represented doctoral institutions, 9% represented two-year colleges, and 5% selected “other”. This includes four Historically Black Colleges and Universities, one Hispanic-Serving Institution, six Minority-Serving Institutions, and one that is both a Hispanic and Minority-Serving Institution.

It’s no surprise that participants claimed a wide variety of experiences given the diversity of participants’ academic backgrounds. With respondents representing over 20 areas of study, opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations were numerous. Despite their differences, many had similar goals for their time in San Jose. The most common reasons that individuals chose to attend the Institute included improving science education at their home campuses, broadening their abilities by learning new areas, strategies, approaches and techniques, improving interdisciplinary learning, and stimulating/supporting civic engagement in students. Considering the overwhelming number of participants who considered their time spent at the Institute valuable, it seems that many people will be able to translate their goals for SSI 2005 into classroom reality.

Overall 92% of participants responded that their experience at the Institute was positive and valuable. Many indicated that “team time” was especially effective and that the chance to get to know colleagues better was an important element to their work at the Institute. Exposure to new ideas, cross-institutional connections, and the chance to develop skills ranked among the most useful aspects of the Institute.

Download (PDF, 325KB)

2004 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2004

Hosted by Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

Download (PDF, 143KB)

2003 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2003Hosted by Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

The snapshots below suggest the range of accomplishments made by campus teams following attendance at the first SENCER Summer Institute. The excerpts are drawn largely from project reports.

The College of St. Catherine developed “Genetics and Inequality,” an interdisciplinary, laboratory-based course for non-majors that helps thestudents learn basic human genetics in the context of complex social issues such as eugenics, DNA fingerprinting and racial profiling, genetic testing, and transgenic organisms.

Colorado College‘s course, “Water, focuses on learning about the local watershed through the integration of four community-based service projects with theory in geochemistry, geography and physical hydrology, while students in the new Energy course study the generation and use of energy in an industrial society, as well as attendant environmental problems through an emphasis on the physical and chemical principles underlying these issues.

“Biology and Human Concerns,” the new SENCER course at Delta State University, focuses on the human condition by exploring human evolution, human population growth over time, contemporary human population issues (such as urban sprawl in the U.S.), and the dangers to continued human existence (particularly threats involving disease pandemics).

Florida Gulf Coast University designed “Ecological Kaleidoscope” – a project to increase science knowledge and teaching skills for pre-service teachers, teachers, and parents. This project includes, a science and science education course that is linked, integrated and taught collaboratively by a science professor and a science education professor.

“The Natural World,” a “rather complex,” integrative learning community is being created by faculty at George Mason University. The project melds the skills and interests of six faculty with the learning styles and accomplishments of a diverse cohort of students and aims to create a coherent and fundamentally important learning experience for all involved.

Hampshire College developed a course exploring the digital divide, taught by a computer science professor, complementing new campus-wide efforts to redesign the experience of all first-year students.

Holyoke Community College now offers several courses that were “substantially influenced by SENCER,” including, “Brink of Extinction: Science Politics, and the Fate of the Earth,” combining Conservation Biology and Introduction to Political Science, and “What is Life?” combining Biology Today and Introduction to Language and Literature.

Keene State University‘s SENCER project seeks to engage university and primary and secondary students in a program to improve scientific understanding and address community needs. Current efforts are focused on pursuing significant extramural support for teachers and college faculty to expand efforts and facilitate communication with community organizations.

Kennesaw State University features several new science courses, including “Interdisciplinary Science: Basic Principles,” and “Interdisciplinary Science: Issues in Science.” SENCER ideals were utilized in the development of the lab, assessment, and course topics.

Students at Loras College can now choose from nine new SENCER courses to complete the Humanity in the Physical Universe (HPU) requirement in the new general education curriculum. Each course is for non-majors, deals with a specific topic that is related to public interest, and has a major, open-ended research component.

SENCER team members from Lourdes College wrote the new course outline and syllabus for “Lake Erie: A Microcosm of Environmental Issues.” The Curriculum and Academic Policies (CAP) Committee unanimously approved the proposal. The new course can be sued to fulfill the General Education Scientific Literacy requirement for non-science majors.

Lynchburg College has incorporated SENCER ideals into two course labs: one designed to teach scientific reading and the other to teach scientific writing. The faculty members who attended the Summer Institute have also changed assessment practices, influenced by new understandings of science teaching and learning.

The focus of the Montclair State UniversitySENCER team has been to bring SENCER ideals into “Contemporary Issues I: Scientific Issues,” an interdisciplinary, non-laboratory general education course. The course draws upon basic principles integrating biological, social and physical sciences, applying the scientific method, scientific data analysis, reasoning and logic to conduct an examination of a contemporary scientific issue.

Emphasizing issues related to the Hudson River, the Mount Saint Mary’s CollegeSENCER project formed connections among three existing courses across the disciplines, Applied Math, Science, and Technology, College Writing, and Introduction to Sociology.

The Evergreen State College reports developing several interdisciplinary programs based on the SENCER ideals, including “Introduction to Environmental Modeling,” “Health and Human Development,” and “Science of the Mind.”

At the University of Missouri-Columbia, the course, “Analysis of Environmental Issues,” asks students to use key natural science concepts to analyze the cause of a problem, develop alternative solutions, select solutions with the most leverage (least cost for most impact), and, where possible, implement solutions. The SENCER team also supports “Conversations About Life Science Teaching,” a biweekly series that encourages and supports discussion about teaching the life sciences.

The University College of the University of Maryland has incorporated the SENCER approach extensively into two courses designed for non-science majors: “The Biology of Cancer” and “The Biology of Aging.” In both courses, the basic principles of biology are taught within the context of topics with which most students have had some personal experience. The courses incorporate various social issues in addition to scientific principles.

At the University of South Florida an interdisciplinary SENCER course sequence, “Science That Matters.” is now offered as part of a coordinated set of courses in a learning community.

Western Nevada Community College implemented a free speaker series titled “Environmental Issues in Nevada” that featured lunchtime lectures by local experts on issues currently facing Nevada.

Numerous activities and courses in the science program at the College of Saint Rose are now connecting the application of scientific knowledge and skills to involvement in community issues. Notable changes include: the introduction of service learning in an introductory science course, increased community involvement by students through several science related events, the development of a new multidisciplinary and integrative capstone science course for elementary and special education science concentrators that draws on their scientific knowledge to investigate societal issues, and the design of a new three-course science program for elementary and special education students who are not concentrating in science. (See September SENCER E-Newsletter for details).

The College of Wooster has developed “Science, Gender and Environment,” a course that explores the relationship between science, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and gender. Through the examination of scientific knowledge claims, an understanding of the scientific method is developed and critiqued with a feminist perspective.

Yeshiva College‘s “The Science of Chemistry: Global Issues” track, exposing students to contemporary issues and current controversies while focusing on energy and the environment, was developed using a SENCER approach and is taught by an organic chemist. Yeshiva’s Freshman Book Project creates overt and formal linkages among science, humanities, and the social sciences through the Book Project selection, The Plague, by Albert Camus.

Download (PDF, 100KB)

2002 SENCER Summer Institute

SSI 2002Hosted by Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

The reports are just now coming in from teams that have worked on SENCER projects during this past academic year. Details will follow the very brief synopses below:

Drake University‘s two-semester sequence integrates the science and mathematics disciplines throughout the two courses that focus on current issues: nutrition and global climate change.

Madonna University‘s new course, “Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity,” is designed around SENCER idealsand is being offered for the Fall 2003 term.

Mercer University assembled a new Scientific Inquiry case study: “Nutrition and Health,” a three to five week casestudy for use in a scientific inquiry course.

The primary goal of Northern Arizona University‘s Introductory ENV course is to imbue students with a fundamental knowledge of the scientific method applied to problems in environmental science, including biodiversity, water, and energy.

University Studies, the general education program at Portland State University, is offering a new Freshman Inquirytheme, “Pathways to Sustainability and Justice.”

Simmons College redesigned an existing course, “Great Discoveries in Science,” to cover similar material but through a new lens: “Feeding the World’s Population.”

Southern Oregon University created a SENCER pilot course, “Forensic Investigation,” a hugely popular, general education class.

2001 SENCER Summer Institute

Hosted by Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, California

SSI 2001 1 SSI 2001 2
SSI 2001 3 SSI 2001 4
SSI 2001 5 SSI 2001 6

Download (PDF, 198KB)