Tara Mann, Winnie Yu, and Rob Sanford
SCI-New England Co-Directors
On November 2nd, the SENCER Center of Innovation (SCI) – New England Fall Regional Meeting was held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.The theme of the meeting was bulding partnerships among campuses, faculty members, SENCER, and community partners. Faculty and staff members who attended the meeting included River Valley Community College, Southern New Hampshire Univeristy, University of Connecticut, University of Southern Maine, MIT, Suffolk County Community College, St John’s Univeristy, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Wheelock College, Merrimack College, University of New Hampshire, Eastern Maine Community College, Pinkerton Academy, Southern Connecticut State University, WPI and Campus Compact.
WPI Dean of Arts & Sciences Karen Kashmanian Oates welcomed participants to campus, stating “What a thrill it is to see New England mobilizing around STEM by helping to create an environment that engages students and faculty alike. The beauty of our natural resources in New England provides the laboratory for inquiry and discovery. SENCER and the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement help us reconnect to our passions and convey to our students the wonder we see in our science.”
Following the welcome was an introduction to SENCER and SENCER Ideals led by Marion Fass, Professor of Biology and SENCER Fellow. Dr. Fass provided examples from her Emerging Disease course and demonstrated ways to engage students and to help them apply their classroom learning to problems relevant to their community and extend this impact to broader community and society.
To provide examples of civic engagement, Sally Slovenski, Executive Director, Maine Campus Compact and Pamela Proulx-Curry, Academic Dean, Eastern Maine Community College shared how Campus Compact can partner with universities and faculty to provide experiential learning experiences for our students. Ms. Slovenski noted, “Its an exciting time for Maine Campus Compact as the synergistic opportunities between our organization and SENCER in the region continue to expand. With growing concern about critical issues like climate change and hunger, blending SENCER’s strength in real-world science application and Campus Compact’s expertise in civic engagement provides a perfect antidote for increasing student preparation to address the complex, urgent challenges that lie ahead.”
Afternoon sessions were held for both administrators interested in bringing SENCER to their campus and leading change as well as faculty interested in progressive pedogogies including an interactive workshop on evidence-based course design and the principles of learning. The day wrapped up with a discussion of how SENCER and SCI-New England can help in career advancement through opportunities in building professional networks and publishing opportunities in science education that could complement research and disciplinary work. Finally, plans were discussed to expand and further engage SCI-New England with the community including several house calls to local institutions, developing better communication tools in the form of social media or email listservs and an upcoming Spring meeting to be held at the Southern Connecticut State University.