Occasional Paper II: What Works, 1994

Leadership— Challenges for the Future

This material emerges from extensive discussions and deliberations within PKAL about leadership and reform: about the critical need to link individual, campus-based reforms to a larger national effort to strengthen undergraduate science and mathematics, and about how faculty, presidents, and deans must work together on their campuses and with their colleagues in other institutions and organizations to make this happen.

Table of Contents

Reflections on Leadership
Luther Williams
Assistant Director, Education and Human Resources Directorate
National Science Foundation

What I Learned in Thirty Years at the University About Catalyzing Change
Bruce Alberts
President--National Academy of Sciences
Chair--National Research Council

Moving Into the Future: Next Steps in the Reform Process
Joan S. Girgus
Director--Pew Science Program in Undergraduate Education, Princeton University

Challenges of the Future of Liberal Arts Colleges: Asking the Right Questions
Michael P. Doyle
Dr. D. R. Semmes Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
Trinity University

Challenged to Collaborate
Marye Anne Fox
M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Regents Chair in Chemistry
The University of Texas at Austin
Vice Chair--National Science Board

Some Economics of Effective Science Education
Stephen R. Lewis, Jr.
President--Carleton College

A Response--Challenges of Change: Observations, Shibboleths, and Cautionary Notes
Robert L. Lichter
Executive Director--The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.

Case Studies:

Introductory Chemistry at Beloit College

COSEN: Working Together To Achieve Diversity in Science and Mathematics

Reengineering Science Education

Workshop Biology at the University of Oregon

What Works: Asking the Right Questions

Community has always been at the heart of PKAL, and in What Works: Building Natural Science Communities, we focused on the concept of community from the perspective of the learning environment for students: what they learn, how they learn, where they learn. We spoke about dialogue and action as hallmarks of a community, recognizing that creating an effective community of learners requires dissolving all the various kinds of boundaries that inhibit dialogue and action, and thus community.

In this document, we give the kaleidoscope a turn and look at the concept of community from a slightly different perspective: how do the pieces fit when we start asking how to achieve the systemic reform this nation needs in science, mathematics, engineering and technology education? The pieces in our kaleidoscope are the same: students and faculty, program and plant, but now we are asking questions about communities of interest: about the stakeholders across the educational sectors, in public and private agencies all those with a stake in ensuring that the undergraduate science/mathematics community serves the national interest into the next century.

How do the patterns change when we ask questions about financing reforms at the local and national level; when we consider exploring new collaborations between departments and between institutions? How do the patterns change when we decide to take some risks asking some hard and uncomfortable questions of ourselves and of our colleagues? How do the patterns change when there is an individual, institutional, and national commitment to dialogue and action to overcoming inertia?

The first public discussion during PKAL Phase II was at a Symposium at Trinity University in February, 1994. This weekend was a notable one or at least a memorable one for the snow and ice storm of the decade which shut down most of the East coast and thus caused havoc with travel plans for presenters and participating teams alike. The resulting sequence of activities during the weekend reinforced some of our ideas about the process of reform, particularly that no matter how careful the planning is you must be prepared for the unexpected, for the changes in the context in which dialogue and action are to take place.

But the San Antonio experience, and our experience with all of the almost twenty PKAL Phase II Meetings, confirmed the PKAL conviction that for reform efforts to have the "spiral effect" that Dr. Girgus speaks about in her paper, people need to move away from their busy schedules and take time to discuss critical issues with colleagues, and they need to do this with a conscious commitment to action.

We look forward to hearing how you have used this site: to rethink introductory courses along the line suggested by Dr. Alberts; to forge the new kind of collaborations suggested by Dr. Girgus and Dr. Fox; to ask within your campus community the hard questions posed by Dr. Doyle and Dr. Lichter; to reengineer the budget process as proposed by Dr. Lewis; and to model curricular reform after one or more of the case studies presented throughout.

We extend our thanks to the authors of the papers presented here for challenging us all to action. We invite you to join us in taking up that challenge.

Jeanne L. Narum, Director
Project Kaleidoscope