Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

What Works: Shaping General Education Programs Focused on Scientific and Quantitative Literacy


  • in departments outside STEM fields incorporate STEM perspectives in classes, courses and programs
  • in STEM departments provide the historical and cultural context for the study of STEM fields
  • at all career stages participate in programs that address the scientific and quantitative literacy of all students
  • are models of literacy, reflecting an openness to integrating different ways of knowing and to using scientific and quantitative wisdom (literacy) to apply to contemporary issues.


  • reflects a common understanding of what "literacy" is (scientific/quantitative) and has means in place to measure student progress toward such literacy (literacy: an appreciation of the relevance of math and science to the past, present and future of our global community; an understanding of and comfort with the use of the methods of science and math; the ability to make use of various modes of quantitative and scientific ways of thinking in solving real-world problems)
  • reinforces insights into how people learn, leading students to be able to organize and apply knowledge, as well as the value of experiential learning and of giving students responsibility to learn for themselves
  • connects students with opportunity to confront and address real-world problems
  • brings science at the cutting-edge into programs addressing scientific and quantitative literacy.


  • has a mission statement that articulates a clear vision that such scientific and quantitative literacy is a key institutional goal
  • establishes policies and schedules that facilitate team-taught, interdisciplinary courses
  • encourages and supports faculty/staff involved in developing, implementing and assessing general education courses, and has mechanisms in place to recruit them
  • has mechanisms in place to ensure that general education courses "live up to their billing," that reality and rhetoric match in practice
  • recognizes how graduates, 21st century leaders will use scientific and quantitative literacy, and shapes programs to prepare them for such leadership roles
  • gives campus-wide attention to the work of integrating ways of thinking across disciplines
  • has partnerships with K-12 communities and with other external organizations that foster networks of educators and stakeholders serving all students.


  • are showcases for the results of scientific investigation, discovery and application
  • are welcoming spaces that signal the human nature of doing science.