Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

A Predictable Journey, an Iterative Process, an Unending Adventure

August 23, 2006

A predictable journey, an iterative process, an unending adventure.

These words could describe the nature of efforts to pursue a vision of a robust learning environment in STEM fields for current and coming generations of undergraduate students in America. These words also could also signal the design of the 2006 PKAL National Colloquium and Leadership Seminar to be held, November 17 - 19, in Kansas City, Missouri. Please join us there.

  • ...a predictable journey: because leaders use standard, time-tested tools for planning and managing change, organizational decision-making and problem-solving
  • ...an iterative process: because the work is never quite done; like a kaleidoscope the patterns keep changing
  • ...an unending adventure: because unanticipated questions emerge as leaders move into uncharted territory, because of the serendipity of new conversations, connections and collaborations, of the human nature of the enterprise.

Most organizational renewal theories regard "vision" as the key stone of substantive and sustainable transformation, and a "visioning" experience opens the Kansas City colloquium. Participants will do some backward-mapping, exploring and clarifying visions of a robust undergraduate STEM learning environment. From that foundation, participants consider goals, strategies, and actions for shaping and strengthening an institutional culture that serves visions for student learning in STEM fields: a culture where research and education, in A. Bartlett Giamatti's words, go "hand-in-hand;" a culture in which 21st century science (STEM) is learned as 21st century science is practiced; one in which all students are given opportunity to become contributing members of the natural science community on their campus, set the stage for these sessions. More contemporary visions, such as the vision developed by Thomas L. Friedman, of the kind of leadership needed in our flat world will catalyze the discussions. Materials from the PKAL archive are a resource for conversations before, during, and after the colloquium. Contemporary calls for action from national public, disciplinary and educational associations will also inform the dialogue.

Finally, recognizing that the unending adventure of institutional transformation is not for the faint-hearted, there will be formal and informal opportunities to delve into the nature of leadership. By examining the progress, outcome, and impact of leaders and leadership teams on campuses across the country, important lessons are being learned about how creative leaders– from below, above, or at the side— make a difference for students, science, and society.

We invite you to join us in Kansas City.