Related Pages

Worksheets & Tools

Characteristics of Ideal Spaces for Science
Arriving at spaces for science that serve your community well for years to come requires both knowing what questions to ask and having a vision of what might be. We present a series of questions raised by institutional teams entering into the planning process, as well as a statement of the collective vision of PKAL leaders about the ideal 21st century science building, accompanied by a survey which can be used by individual campuses to determine their collective vision about facilities that serve their community.

What Works Statements

What Works: Building Robust Interdisciplinary Programs


Excerpts from the NRC Report Bio2010
"Biological concepts and models are becoming more quantitative, and biological research has become critically dependent on concepts and methods drawn from other scientific disciplines. The connections between the biological sciences and the physical sciences, mathematics, and computer science are rapidly becoming deeper and more extensive. The ways that scientists communicate, interact, and collaborate are undergoing equally rapid and dramatic transformations..."
Results from the 2003-04 MAA PKAL Biomath Survey
Debra L. Hydorn
PKAL and MAA have collaborated over the past several months to identify programs integrating the life sciences and the mathematical sciences. This is an ongoing project, and further examples of interesting programs are sought.


How to Design, Implement & Sustain an Investigative Interdisciplinary Laboratory
Gerald R. Van Hecke
This presentation was given at the Western Regional ACS Meeting, San Diego, October 2007.

Personal Statements

PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century Statement
Lisa Ely
Lisa Ely's PKAL F21 Class of 2004 statement highlights her efforts to develop truly interdisciplinary, rigorous programs for STEM students from the freshman through upperclass levels and to integrate original research opportunities and science curriculum at all levels.

Link to another site

Complex Environmental Systems - Synthesis for Earth, Life, and Society in the 21st Century
"The report presents a ten-year outlook for environmental research and education and argues that we need to develop environmental synthesis to frame integrated interdisciplinary research questions and activities to merge data, approaches, and ideas across spatial, temporal, and societal scales."
Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education – JUNE
"JUNE is a new online journal for undergraduate neuroscience faculty that publishes peer-reviewed reports of innovations in undergraduate neuroscience education. JUNE serves as a mechanism for faculty to exchange information regarding topics such as laboratory exercises, funding opportunities, new media, curricular considerations, and teaching methods."
National Institutes of Health - Roadmap
According to NIH's new Roadmap: "Many scientists will continue to pursue individual research projects, however, they will be encouraged to make changes in the way they approach this enterprise. NIH wants to stimulate new ways of combining skills and disciplines within the physical and biological sciences...In addition, novel partnerships, such as those between the public and private sectors, will be encouraged to accelerate the movement of scientific discoveries from the bench to the bedside."
National Science Foundation - Exploring the Concept of Undergraduate Research Centers
The Chemistry Division, MPS Directorate, at NSF is piloting a new program. "One central theme [of the planning workshop] was that of collaboration: participants agreed that URCs should bring institutions with divergent missions together to their mutual benefit. A second strong theme that emerged was that, as often as possible, students should be involved in real research and actively contribute to the production of new knowledge. The utility of community-based research experiences in attracting students to the sciences, particularly at urban and nonresidential institutions, was recognized in this context...[T]he concept of URCs clearly represents the kernel of a comprehensive vision for undergraduate education, one with the potential to transform it from an exclusive "ivory tower" into a vigorous and dynamic forum of inclusiveness and engagement for a larger group of students than we currently serve."

Keck Consultation Reports

Implementing Institution-wide Interdisciplinary Programs
The Keck/PKAL Consultation Program
A few faculty from this urban state-funded university developed an integrated science and math curriculum, but the university wishes to scale-up this program beyond the original core of innovators. The consulting team was asked to identify strategies to help these faculty implement a university-wide program.
Interdisciplinary Programs Across Multiple Campuses
The Keck/PKAL Consultation Program
At this community college in the southeast classes are distributed between distinct campuses. Success with a model project that integrated freshman level science and mathematics courses prompted the president to ask a team to help his faculty find ways to expand interdisciplinary opportunities to every campus.


A Brief History of Biochemical Education
Rodney Boyer
Throughout much of its history, biochemistry has been a field reserved for post-baccalaureate study. Universities established biochemistry departments primarily to train students for the M.S., Ph.D., and M.D. degrees.
Facilities for the research-rich learning environment
Richard M. Heinz
Where do you start in thinking about 21st century spaces for 21st century learning communities? First is the diversity of demands on the spaces: expected to play a role in attracting and sustaining the interest of students in STEM fields; expected to be easy to use, manage and maintain over the long-term; able to accommodate with ease students with different learning styles and career aspirations, as well as emerging technologies and contemporary pedagogies; and finally—expected to enhance institutional distinction over the long-term. To make this happen, planners need to think about concepts such as collaboration, celebration and community. From his perspective as a lab designer, Rick Heinz offers ideas about options and opportunities in the process of planning new spaces for science.
Mission and vision for the sciences at Brooklyn College
Frank Grasso, Peter Lesser, Eleanor Miele, Theodore Raymond Muth, Simon Parsons, Louise Hainline
Transforming the undergraduate STEM learning begins with a clear vision grounded firmly in the institutional mission. This statement of mission and vision from Brooklyn College illustrates the power of a driving vision to mobilize a community to dream big about its future, in the context of planning new spaces for science. Brooklyn College is a PKAL Leadership Institution.
Planning, implementing and assessing an integrated math and science curriculum
Charles Allen, Bruce Callen, Donald G. Deeds, Mark Wood
This essay describes the assessment protocols through which Drury University monitored the impact of a multi-disciplinary curriculum for all students developed collectively by their STEM faculty. The full description of the ten-year development and evolution of their curriculum is presented in an essay in the Journal of College Science Teaching. That reformers need to be in it for the long-haul is one lesson learned from the Drury experience.
Science across the curriculum - The Binghamton University Story
Albert H. Tricomi
In 1996, Binghamton University inaugurated its first General Education Program for all students. The process of discussing and approving requirements for this program had an immediate and a lasting effect on how students on our campus experience learning in mathematics and science.
Twenty-first century science and the facilities of the future
Facilities matter, from the perspective of serving new interdisciplinary fields of research as well as of making the learning experience for all undergraduates one that is truly integrative. Some ideas and best practices from the PKAL facilities archive.

Best Ideas

Cranbrook Jigsaw Group C: The Science Building of the Future
Roundtable Jigsaw Group C

Other Resources

Designing Spaces that Serve the Research-Rich Learning Environment
Michael C. Lauber
Research-Rich Facilities Designing Spaces that Serve Research-Rich
How Academic Institutions Can Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research
The report from the National Academies of Science, How Academic Institutions Can Facilitate Interdisciplinary Research, addresses the complexity as well as the necessity of taking a kaleidoscopic perspective, with an intriguing analysis of how to build a research-rich, interdisciplinary learning environment. Their insight, that "at the heart of interdisciplinary is communication— the conversations, connections, and combinations that bring new insights to virtually every kind of scientist and engineer" reinforces both the goals and strategies of 21st century agents of change.