2004 Facilities Workshop at University of Chicago

September 10 - 12, 2004

Shaping environments for undergraduate learning in STEM fields: Opportunities for research & comprehensive universities

This workshop is the 24th PKAL event addressing the issue of planning facilities for undergraduate science.1 As with similar workshops in the past, this event is planned as a forum for academic leaders contemplating facilities renewal on their campus. Participants will examine the relationship between space and program and explore how new directions in science and technology call for new kinds of spaces for the learning and practice of science (STEM). Institutional teams are desired, with faculty from involved departments and administrators with responsibility for budget, facilities, information technologies, and other offices whose decisions affect the quality of new spaces. They will learn from and work with architects and with academics with recent experience in facilities planning; the objective is to work through the weekend to shape an action agenda for planning new spaces for science that will serve their institution with distinction over the long-term.

In plenary and break-out sessions, participating teams will consider some of the driving issues currently facing science faculty, their administrative colleagues, and design professionals in planning the STEM facility of the future.

Research- how to design spaces that:

  • accommodate the continuing evolution of science, particularly the interdisciplinary collaboration that is becoming commonplace, which calls for new kinds of research clusters, for support infrastructure with minimal fixed physical elements, for communal social spaces for the serendipitous exchange of ideas; spaces that allow for such collaborations while maintaining traditional disciplinary groups as necessary
  • facilitate the integration of research and education at the undergraduate level, and the building of a research community that includes undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs and faculty
  • support the use of the sophisticated instrumentation required to do 21st century science, and the technologies that enable research communities to work, 24/7, with colleagues around the world.

Pedagogies- how to design spaces that:

  • accommodate large enrollment introductory courses designed around contemporary "inquiry-based" pedagogies
  • reflect contemporary research in cognitive science- how students learn and how faculty teach
  • allow the collaborative, problem-solving group work that characterizes the strong undergraduate STEM program of today
  • enable teachers to make the most effective use of information technologies to strengthen student learning.

Institutional issues- how to design a facility that:

  • incorporates sustainability in its concept, siting, orientation, design, construction and operation, that results in cost-effectiveness over the long-term, and that is itself a laboratory for science
  • does not become obsolete as new directions in science and technology (and/or new pedagogies) emerge, but is rather itself a catalyst for continual renewal of program
  • is a welcoming destination for members of their campus community, a place for recognizing and celebrating the role of science and technology in our world today

  • signals the value that the college or university places on research, learning and teaching in STEM fields.

The workshop begins on Friday, September 10 at 3:00 p.m., at the Biological Sciences Building at the University of Chicago; it concludes at noon on Sunday, September 12, 2004.

The agenda includes plenary sessions to give an overview of the issues presented above, interspersed with break-out sessions in which the issues are explored in greater depth. Examples of existing projects will be presented as a resource for the break-outs; the University of Chicago story will be featured. Experienced architects and academics will serve as one-on-one consultants to institutional teams as they shape their action plan.

1 Since 1992, over 400 colleges and universities have participated in this dimension of PKAL; from materials prepared for and emerging from these activities, PKAL has assembled a rich set of resources addressing each stage of the planning process- from shaping a clearly articulated institution vision for the undergraduate program through the work of costing and construction facilities to house such programs. These can be found here.



Reports, Best Ideas, & Proceedings

Some Questions
from Institutional Teams Attending PKAL Facilities Planning Workshop