Sherryl Broverman, Southern Connecticut State University Honored with Bennett Awards

Southern Connecticut State UniversityThe William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science is given annually to both an individual and a team whose SENCER and other related activities have made exemplary and extraordinary contributions to citizen science. The award was established by NCSCE in 2009 and named in honor of its first recipient for his lifetime contributions to citizen science. As Wm. David Burns, NCSCE Executive Director, noted at the 2015 SENCER Summer Institute, “Bill Bennett is a towering leader in American education, and a great mentor to us in our work.”

The 2015 individual and team honorees provide inspirational examples of local and global impacts to all of us as another academic year begins. Dr. Sherryl Broverman was honored with the individual award. Drs. Winnie Yu, James Tait, Vince Breslin, Terese Gemme, Terri Bennett, Susan Cusato of Southern Connecticut State University received the team award. Awardees were recognized during the Leadership Dinner at the recent SSI, where Burns remarked that, “The great notion of learning is that we really learn from each other, and I’ve learned a great deal from Sherryl and the group from Southern Connecticut.”

Dr. Sherryl Broverman, Individual Award
Dr. Sherryl Broverman, associate professor of the practice, biology and global health at Duke University, is well known and respected throughout the SENCER community. Nominators for Sherryl stated, “Global citizenship is often cited as an aspiration for students, and Sherryl really embodies that ideal in her educational work, both at Duke and in Kenya.” Sherryl’s remarkable achievements in both increasing attention to HIV disease in the Duke curriculum and advancing education of girls in Kenya emerged directly from her work with the SENCER project, and she has both inspired our community and served as model of rigorous science education through global engagement and service.

At the 2001 SENCER Summer Institute 2001, Sherryl became acquainted with colleagues from across Africa, and began what has now become a nearly 15-year collaboration. With Dr. Rose Odhiambo at Egerton University in Kenya, she developed a linked course. Since then, over 3,000 students at Duke have enrolled in Sherryl’s course, learning about the challenges facing their peers in Kenya and how they can have an impact. Sherryl and Rose also founded the Women’s Institute of Secondary Education & Research (WISER) Secondary school in Kenya, which has changed the lives of young girls and had measurable impacts on the larger community. In addition to educating girls, WISER works in partnership with the local school system to build capacity in the primary school and provides teacher training. The school and its founders have also tackled community issues that impact students’ ability to attend and prosper in school, including the availability of food and clean water. Sherryl movingly shared, “Now hundreds of families in a rural village in Kenya, who never had thought that their girl was worth anything or worth educating, now have their girls in high school and even university, because we’ve graduated two classes now. SENCER’s reach is both profound and wide.”

Southern Connecticut State University, Team Award
Since 2004, 32 faculty members from Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), encompassing 12 departments and three of its schools, have attended Summer Institutes and both incorporated SENCER ideals into existing courses and programs as well as created new ones. Dr. DonnaJean Fredeen, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rider University and former SCSU dean, notes, “There is no doubt that teaching to science through capacious, complex social issues has taken deep root at SCSU. It is through the sustained efforts of the faculty leadership team that SENCER and citizen science is part of the educational experience of all undergraduate students [at SCSU].” Drs. Winnie Yu (professor, computer science), James Tait (professor, environmental and marine studies), Vince Breslin (professor and chair, science education and environmental studies), Terese Gemme (professor of music and Honors College director), Terri Bennett (professor and chair, mathematics), and Susan Cusato (associate professor, science education and environmental studies) have been leaders in these efforts.

Three model courses have emerged from Southern Connecticut’s work: Computer Ethics by Terry Bynum, Science and the Connecticut Coast: Investigations of an Urbanized Shoreline by James Tait and Vince Breslin, and most recently, Pollinators: A Case Study in Systems Thinking and Sustainability by Susan Cusato and Suzanne Huminski. The courses are just a few examples of the creativity with which members of the team have approached curricula, as well as the “deep insights about some of the the things we need to understand about student needs when we think we are doing good things for students,” as David Burns described at SSI 2015. They also illustrate results of effective partnerships within and across the disciplines.

Learn more about past recipients of the William E. Bennett award, as well as the requirements for nominations for the 2016 awards, here.

Congressman to Receive Bennett Award at Capitol Hill Ceremony

Representative Rush HoltCongressman Rush D. Holt will be presented with the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science at the 2014 Capitol Hill Poster Session. The ceremony, held in connection with the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement’s 2014 Washington Symposium, will take place on Tuesday, September 30, in the Cannon Caucus Room at 12:30 p.m. Congressmen Holt will make brief remarks.

In announcing the award, David Burns, executive director of the National Center, released the following statement:

When we created the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science we did so to recognize some of the remarkable members of our SENCER community. We also planned for the possibility that occasionally we would have the honor to recognize someone whose influence was so significant—in scope, depth, and persistence—that it makes what the work our community does possible, but beyond that, makes our whole nation smarter, stronger, and, simply put, better. Rush Holt is such a person. It gives us great pleasure and is a high honor for us to be able to recognize Congressman Holt with the Bennett Award.

Congressman Holt, who is retiring this year, represents the 12th District of New Jersey. But he represents all of us who want to see our nation pay better and more effective attention to improving how science and mathematics are taught and learned. Beyond a focus on education, the Congressman has been a champion in national efforts to apply the benefits of scientific investigation and discovery to the most critical matters facing our nation and world.

Though he is a Ph.D. physicist—and his campaign bumper sticker once boasted: “my congressman is a rocket scientist”—Congressman’s Holt core belief is that scientific thinking is not something that only professional scientists do. Holt has observed that the founders of our nation:

…were thinking like scientists; they were asking questions so they could be answered empirically and verifiably. That’s what science is. It is a system for asking questions so you can answer those questions empirically and in a way that others can verify your empirical tests for those answers.

In his 2009 article in our Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, the Congressman went on to write:

Every shopkeeper, every farmer, every factory owner throughout American history has had this scientific tradition. It was common for Americans to think about how things work and how they could be made better and made to work better.

Congressman Holt, along with many other leaders in Congress, has been a leader in supporting STEM education and the development of new technologies and other scientific discoveries to promote employment, production, and economic growth. But he has also raised to a new level of prominence the discourse and analysis on the connection between science and democracy. Scientific thinking, he noted, was essential “for creating the kind of self-critical, self-correcting, evolving society we need to create. The whole balance of powers in our constitution, the whole idea of openness that we embrace as a democracy, these are very scientific in nature.”

For his life’s work “thinking about how things work and how they could be made better and made to work better,” the National Center is pleased to present Congressman Holt with the Bennett Award.

Professor Gary Booth of Brigham Young University and The Core Interdisciplinary Team from the United States Military Academy Honored with the 2014 William E. Bennett Awards for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science

Gary BoothGary Booth, professor of plant and wildlife science at Brigham Young University, and The Core Interdisciplinary Team from the United States Military Academy at West Point have been selected as this year’s recipients of the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science.

The Bennett Awards are given by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement each year, one to recognize the contributions of a single individual and another to honor team and institution-wide accomplishments. Named in honor of William E. Bennett, former senior science advisor to the US secretary of health and human services and longtime senior advisor to the SENCER project, for his lifetime contributions to citizen science, the award was first presented to its namesake at a ceremony on Capitol Hill on March 31, 2009.

Monica Devanas, director of faculty development and assessment programs at the Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research at Rutgers University and a 2013 Bennett Award recipient, presented the awards during a dinner honoring leaders at the 2014 SENCER Summer Institute.

Professor Booth was honored for his remarkable 40 years of dedicated teaching and to recognize his distinguished record as a long-time, unflagging, unfailing, and imaginative contributor to the SENCER community. As Dr. Devanas noted, the Bennett Award will “hold up Dr. Booth’s contributions to students and education as an inspiration to others.”

The award to the United States Military Academy honors their creation and implementation of comprehensive interdisciplinary program focused on the complex, contested, and capacious issue of energy. Of the Core Interdisciplinary Team at West Point, Dr. Devanas noted: “The discipline, dedication and passion that the West Point faculty and student leaders have brought to their work on interdisciplinary education has captured the attention, adoration, and affection of the SENCER community. Our West Point colleagues have provided a thorough, thoughtful, and careful implementation of SENCER ideals with equally thoughtful and careful assessment of each element in all their work.”

The 2014 Bennett Awardees will also be recognized at the 2014 DC Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session.
Continue reading Dr. Monica Devanas’ remarks on this year’s awardees below.

The Core Interdisciplinary Team at the United States Military Academy at West Point

The first team from the United States Military Academy attended our SENCER Summer Institute in 2011, held in the sweltering heat at Butler University in Indianapolis. West Point faculty had just undertaken a self-study on general education and had asked for a “SENCER house call.” That campus visit was facilitated by Barbara Tewksbury of Hamilton College. The West Point team determined that a goal for general education reform should be the incorporation of interdisciplinary approaches in the general education curriculum, so they applied to attend SSI 2011.

Representing West Point at SSI 2011 were Jerry Kobylski, Frank Wattenberg, John Hartke, Adam Kalkstein, Bruce Keith, Scott Silverstone, and Diane Ryan. The team had a big challenge: to investigate and plan ways to implement their general education mission statement, “Graduates anticipate and respond effectively to the uncertainties of a changing technological, social, political, and economic world.” USMA graduates do indeed need to be interdisciplinary problem solvers.

The folks who came to SENCER in 2011 represented the West Point Core Interdisciplinary Team, all curriculum-focused volunteer faculty who look broadly at ways to introduce interdisciplinary topics, specifically “energy,” into general education courses. For more information on this project, read a [link describing it in our eNews ‘past article’].

Many on the team became our good SENCER friends: Jerry Kobylski, Joe Shannon, Diane Ryan, Chuck Elliot, Chris Weld, and many others have participated in our national and regional meetings. Frank Wattenberg is serving as a Co-PI on our new NSF-supported Engaging Mathematics project and Chris Arney, who made the original connection to SENCER, is an advisor to NCSCE’s mathematics work. Team members have shared their scholarship on teaching and learning through publications, as well. “Putting the Backbone into Interdisciplinary Learning” was published in our Journal’s Winter 2013 edition. The latest edition of the Journal features an article on assessment by the newly graduated and commissioned officer Elizabeth Olcese, along with Gerald Kobylski, Charles Elliott, and Joseph Shannon.

The discipline, dedication, and passion that the West Point faculty and student leaders have brought to their work on interdisciplinary education has captured the attention, adoration, and affection of the SENCER community. Our West Point colleagues have provided a thorough, thoughtful, and careful implementation of SENCER ideals with equally thoughtful and careful assessment of each element in all their work. They have designed a comprehensive, inclusive process with successful incremental and institution-wide changes. And they are not finished! The team’s and West Point’s work represents one of the largest applications of the SENCER ideals since our program began.

Professor Gary M. Booth of Brigham Young University

Gary Booth has been teaching for over 40 years at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. A biology professor in plant and wildlife sciences, Gary describes teaching as a journey of discovery. He is so dedicated to this journey that he left his successful research-based career at the University of Illinois to join the faculty at Brigham Young, just so he could teach more.

Gary’s motto is “learning can be fun.” He firmly believes in using principles of active learning in his teaching. He has come to class with festoons of balloons, some filled with helium and some with oxygen to demonstrate chemical principles. He has filled his classroom with every tropical plant he could find along with a fog machine to recreate the tropical rain forest. He confesses to dressing as Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi to make a point memorable to students. He teaches students to love learning.

Gary cares deeply about learning about the learning that his students are doing. This commitment to what we now call assessment takes many forms, but one of special note to the SENCER community is Gary’s longtime use of the Student Assessment of Their Learning Gains (SALG) instrument. Gary’s use of the SALG was critical to early work used to assess the SALG’s validity.

In the NCSCE tribute, Gary is described as being “a distinguished, long-time, unflagging, unfailing, and imaginative contributor to the SENCER community. The Bennett Award will hold Dr. Booth’s contributions to students and education up as an inspiration to others.”

Gary certainly is an inspiration to me. I remember meeting Gary at the SSI in 2002 where he exhibited his trademark style and deeply held commitment to the engagement of students in all aspects of the learning process. He always brought teams of students to the SSIs and to the DC Symposia. He engaged students in his research with plants and fruits looking for anti-cancer agents. He is renowned for creating what he calls a “Cycle of Learning” in which upper-level students doing research with him come back and explain their research to his first-year students in introductory level courses, when the subjects of the student research serve to illuminate the lessons being taught in the beginning course.

Look on and the word you see most frequently is “love.” Students love his class, students love to learn, students love Dr. Booth. Ask his colleagues about his teaching and the words they use are “fervor, energy, and passion.”

Gary’s influence goes well beyond Provo. He has been a leader in the SCI-WestNet Pioneer Node where he helped create seven SENCER-based courses at Brigham Young Provo, Brigham Young Idaho, Regis University, and Utah Valley University.

One of his former students, now a professor and faculty member, says of him, “I always wanted to be some kind of teacher but Dr. Booth showed me the kind of teacher I want to be.” SENCER is both humbled and proud to honor Professor Gary M. Booth.