Picture of Jeanne L. Narum

Jeanne L. Narum


Independent Colleges Office

As Founding PKAL Director, Narum has a variety of responsibilities, all focused on building leadership at the institutional and national levels to ensure that American undergraduates have access to robust learning experiences in STEM fields. A major responsibility was to coordinate the volunteer efforts of a national cadre of change agents, whose experience shape PKAL institutes, seminars, workshops and publications, illustrating best practices in the work of reform. A continuing responsibility is as editor of PKAL publications (electronic and print). PKAL's goal is to encourage the design and development of an intellectual, physical and organizational infrastructure that supports strong learning in STEM fields. PKAL's Faculty for the 21st Century network is a significant dimension of PKAL. Narum was the project director for the grants from NSF and other funders that supported the work of PKAL for more than 20 years.

A PKAL Interview

In response to the question "What is PKAL?" Jeanne answers:

Our world is one in which science and technology have a profound impact on every aspect of life. PKAL is part of the growing national effort, using the energies and expertise of leaders within the undergraduate STEM community, to prepare coming generations for that world, for lives that are self-fulfilled, productive, and of service to society.

What we learn from the experience of those involved with PKAL is that strong programs, innovative approaches, and risk-taking ideas emerge when a community:

  • understands who their students are
  • energizes gifted and respected faculty leaders at all career stages, giving them the flexibility, responsibility, and resources to effect change
  • identifies critical questions to be asked at each stage of reform, ensuring they are asked in the context of mutual respect and shared commitments
  • is willing to take risks, to seek collaborators within the campus, and develops partnerships with the external community of stakeholders

PKAL's goal in the next few years is to support and enhance the work of leaders building such communities.

Current Projects


Investing in Faculty: The Role of Leaders
An Essay
Today's STEM leaders must invest in faculty. Investment includes making hiring decisions, socializing with faculty, evaluating their performance and rewarding them appropriately. Leaders must know the career trajectory of each faculty member and they must tailor their advice and counsel to individual personalities.
Assembling Collaborating Communities
An Essay
Taking the kaleidoscopic perspective on institutional transformation requires examining how the changing context calls for different kinds of collaborating communities pursuing new visions of institutional distinction.
What is Leadership?
An Essay
At its essence, leading is all about relationships - growing the connections among individuals that permit collective, collaborative thinking and action. Leaders motivate, join forces in articulating a common vision and goals, and support others in conceiving and implementing plans for action.
Some Lessons Learned
An Essay
To understand where we are in the process of transforming undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics(STEM) education in the last years of the 20th century, it is important to think first about why reform was needed. It will help to explore what went wrong, how teaching and learning, research and education in the sciences and mathematics in the nation's undergraduate community came to have deep-seated problems.
Realizing a Learner-Centered Environment
An Essay
Research from the field of cognitive science provides one answer to two fundamental questions facing today's leaders intent on creating a learner-centered environment: 1) why is such an environment needed; 2) how can such an environment be realized?
Taking the Scientific Approach
An Essay
Sharing their work for review, comment and use by others brings another dimension of the scientific approach into the work of institutional transformation. As people learn about, adapt and build upon the work of colleagues with experience in setting, implementing and assessing goals for a research-rich learning environment, a better informed community of practitioners will emerge, similar to more traditional disciplinary communities of practice.
Roles & Responsibilities of Academic Leaders
An Essay
Building and sustaining faculty careers involves more than hiring a new body. Planning is critical to the success of the person, department and institution.
A Guide for Institution-Wide Planning
A Worksheet
Getting a community to collaborate is easier when everyone is clear about the issues that to be addressed, in particular the essential need for a driving vision, and understands the sequence and series of issues that must be addressed. This worksheet is one approach to keeping the community focused during the months it takes to arrive at and realize their dreams.
Thoughts on Project Kaleidoscope: PKAL's 10th Anniversary
An Essay
Coming to the end of the first decade of PKAL, it is time to pause and reflect, before taking up the charge for the next decade. It is helpful, in this reflecting, to examine the goals for PKAL set out in the original proposal submitted in 1989 to the Division of Undergraduate Education (EHR Directorate) at the National Science Foundation.
Strategic Leadership in Building Robust Undergraduate STEM Learning Environments
An Essay
To achieve sustainable and meaningful transformation of the undergraduate STEM learning environment everything has to be in sync: how faculty are recognized and rewarded; how courses are sequenced and connected within and beyond a discipline; how facilities are shaped to accommodate new pedagogies and instrumentation and— most important, how students are to be introduced to, initiated, and incorporated into the natural science community at that college or university campus.
Transforming Undergraduate Programs in STEM: Looking Back and Looking Ahead
AAC&U Liberal Education, Vol. 94, No. 2
Are new approaches to transforming undergraduate learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) making a difference? If so, how? How do we know? And what next? Now that that “coming decade” is here, it is timely to ask how accurate those predictions were and to offer some new recommendations for the next decade.
Plenary Session I: Starting the Conversations-- Spaces that Serve Learning
2008 Facilities Roundtable