FUN Workshop in Collaboration with PKAL

The Undergraduate Neuroscience Education Workshop

July 18 - 20, 2008

A Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience Workshop
In conjunction with Project Kaleidoscope

The Undergraduate Neuroscience Education:
Interactions, Interdisciplines, and Curricular Best Practices

Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota
July 18 - 20, 2008

In July 2008, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) held its fifth workshop on designing, implementing and assessing neuroscience programs in undergraduate settings.


  • At the 1st FUN workshop, held at Davidson College in 1995, participants developed four blueprints to guide faculty in their efforts to enrich the undergraduate science curriculum of their institutions by developing courses and programs in an interdisciplinary and marvelously fertile young science: Neuroscience.
  • At the 2nd FUN workshop, held at Oberlin College in 1998, participants used these blueprints as a foundation to explore cutting-edge laboratory exercises designed to serve as the basis for the development of investigative, discovery-based laboratory experiences and the steps involved in launching regional meetings emphasizing undergraduate neuroscience research.
  • At the 3rd FUN workshop, held at Trinity College in 2001, participants again explored laboratory exercises as well as simulations of synaptic transmission, and further examined issues in developing regional meetings emphasizing undergraduate neuroscience research.
  • At the 4th FUN workshop, held at Macalester College in 2005, in addition to exploring new laboratory experiences and development of leadership skills, the participants revisited the four original curricular blueprints that served as curricular models in neuroscience since 1995, and, to address the directions that neuroscience is headed in the coming decades, added a fifth curricular blueprint, neuroscience studies.

In 2008

At the 5th FUN workshop, held at Macalester, there were opportunities to explore:

  • New laboratory experiences emphasizing discovery-based learning
  • The increasing interdisciplinarity of neuroscience education, and new directions that neuroscience is headed in the coming decade.
  • Approaches to mounting major and non-major courses in the undergraduate neuroscience curriculum
  • Ways to establish effective outreach programs
  • Approaches to promote inclusion of all groups currently underrepresented or underserved in STEM programs
  • Issues focusing on the development of leadership skills to ensure that undergraduate education in neuroscience remains vibrant well into the future.

Aims & Objectives

  • To examine the evolving nature of the undergraduate neuroscience curriculum and help guide efforts to create and sustain neuroscience programs at schools as diverse as liberal arts colleges and research universities.
  • To aid in preparing neuroscience faculty for leadership roles in departmental, institutional, professional organizations or other settings.
  • To introduce faculty to innovative laboratory experiences that serve as the basis for the development of both investigative/discovery-based and integrative interdisciplinary laboratory experiences.
  • To prepare faculty to develop competitive grant applications to support their educational and research programs.
  • To discuss local and national efforts to build and strengthen neuroscience education at the undergraduate level.
  • To prepare workshop participants to initiate and sustain reforms on their home campus.
  • To build regional networks for ongoing collaboration following the Workshop.


  • How has neuroscience changed across the years that FUN and PKAL have held these workshops? What should a neuroscience curriculum look like in an undergraduate setting in 2008? In 2015? What are we trying to accomplish by introducing neuroscience to undergraduates as part of a liberal arts experience?
  • Given the range of undergraduate colleges and universities, what types of laboratory experiences “work” in an undergraduate neuroscience setting? What goals do we have for laboratory experiences in the curriculum?
  • What are the philosophical and logistical obstacles in setting up a neuroscience program in a liberal arts college? In a state university?
  • What makes for a successful grant proposal? How does one get support for research, programs, or equipment? What kinds of opportunities are available for faculty development?
  • How does one formulate a plan for leadership that stems from individual strengths, and is mindful of career stage, institutional culture, and other commitments? What are the costs and benefits of leadership roles?


Case studies, plenary presentations, small group sessions, and individual consultations addressed all dimensions of undergraduate neuroscience education, including determining what needs to be taught, dissolving institutional and departmental barriers, building an institutional team committed to reform, developing more appropriate spaces for teaching and learning, funding innovative efforts, and community outreach. Sessions were geared toward neuroscience faculty as well as department chairs, deans, development officers, and others with responsibility for strengthening undergraduate programs, particularly those that cross disciplinary boundaries in and with science and mathematics in general, and neuroscience specifically.


  • Christopher C. Barney, T. Elliot Weier Professor of Biology -Hope College
  • Leah A. Chase, Associate Professor of Biology & Chemistry -Hope College
  • E. Lee Coates, Professor of Biology -Allegheny College
  • Deborah Colbern, President & Scientific Director of BEEMNET; Founder & Director, National Kids Judge! Partnership -Brain-Exchange Education & Mentorship Network (BEEMNET)
  • Shelly Dickinson, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Director of Neuroscience Program -St. Olaf College
  • Gary Dunbar, Director of Neuroscience Program -Central Michigan University
  • William Grisham, Adjunct Professor of Psychology -University of California, Los Angeles
  • Mary Harrington, Tippit Professor of Life Sciences -Smith College
  • Stephen Hauptman, Laboratory Instructor in Biology & Neuroscience -Bowdoin College
  • Karl Johnson, Assistant Professor of Biology & Neuroscience -Pomona College
  • Bruce R. Johnson, Senior Research Associate in Department of Neurobiology & Behavior -Cornell University
  • Michael Kerchner, Associate Professor of Psychology -Washington College
  • Gus K. Lott, Neurobiological Instrumentation Engineer -HHMI, Janelia farm Research Campus
  • Kristina S. Mead, Associate Professor of Biology -Denison University
  • Gary Muir, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience -St. Olaf College
  • Jeanne L. Narum, Director -Project Kaleidoscope
  • Richard F. Olivo, Professor of Biological Sciences -Smith College
  • Kelly Overly, Research Alliance Manager -Allen Institute for Brain Science
  • Karen Parfitt, Associate Professor of Biology -Pomona College
  • Carol Stevens, Director of Animal Facility -Central Michigan University
  • David Van Wylen, Professor of Biology -St. Olaf College
  • Joseph A. Whittaker, Dean of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences -Morgan State University
  • Eric P. Wiertelak, DeWitt Wallace Professor of Psychology & Director of Cognitive & Neuroscience Studies -Macalester College
  • Terry S. Woodin, Program Director in Division of Undergraduate Education & Directorate for Education and Human Resources-National Science Foundation