Who We Are, What We Do

NCSCE is a national organization that supports a community of teachers and learners. Through professional development programs, research, and mentoring we help educators in and outside the classroom make connections between the content they teach and real world issues of civic importance. By putting content into context, what is inaccessible becomes accessible, what is uninteresting becomes interesting, and what is not meaningful becomes meaningful.  We empower learners by showing them that their knowledge matters, and what they learn today can help solve some of the biggest problems of tomorrow.


SENCER is the signature program of NCSCE. The origin of the SENCER approach was a course developed by Monica Devanas at Rutgers University that taught basic biology through a focus on HIV disease. Using a pressing and timely problem of immediate interest to students, such as the HIV epidemic, helped students understand complex biological concepts and increased their learning. Since 2001 the SENCER approach has been applied to all STEM disciplines at all levels of undergraduate learning.  There are over 55 SENCER model courses ( as well as modules, and background papers) at the SENCER Resources section on the home page.  Discussions of the "genealogy" and the philosophy of SENCER can be found in "Knowledge to Make Our Democracy" and "Reflections on the Premises, Purposes, Lessons Learned, and Ethos of SENCER."

SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities)

Our Community

Since 2001 more than 6,000 educators, administrators, students, and community leaders from over 500 two- and four-year colleges, universities, agencies, informal education venues, and community-based organizations have taken part in SENCER and NCSCE activities and contributed their knowledge and work to the project. NCSCE was founded in 2004, and since 2015 has been hosted by the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University.

Our Initiatives

We currently support four initiatives, in addition to SENCER, that advance education and civic engagement.

SENCER-ISEEngaging MathematicsSCEWestNetGLISTEN
SENCER-ISE supports collaborations between formal education (colleges and universities) and informal education (museums, zoos, wildlife centers, etc.) to show students and the public that learning happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. Visit SENCER-ISE.net.
Engaging Mathematics courses make math accessible and relevant to students by showing them how it relates to issues they care about, such as sustainability, racial profiling, social justice, and international ecotourism. Visit EngagingMathematics.net.
SCEWestNet is a multi-institutional collaboration that creates an effective community of practice across the expansive 17 states of the western United States to achieve significant, lasting science education reform. Learn more about SCEWestNet.
Through GLISTEN, undergraduate students take the lead in improving the health of the Great Lakes through restoration and stewardship activities part of on-campus coursework and in partnership with government and community-based organizations. Learn more about GLISTEN.