National Conversation on What it means to be liberally educated in the 21st century?

In 1970 the NSF produced a report on science education that has an overarching recommendation and two specific recommendation regarding science education.

The global recommendation was:

To educate students who will be at home in society and to educate a society that will be at home with science.

The specific recommendations were that:

  • We want the Foundation to lead in improving and changing science education for non-science students
  • We want to improve and change science education for the science student.

Thirty-five years has elapsed since this report was issued and the educational, economic and global environment had undergone massive change. It is appropriate to examine how well higher education has accomplished the goals set forth in the 1970 NSF report. It is important to determine whether these goals continue to be valid for the future and to identify areas that require additional thought and development.

PKAL has been asked by the NSF to collaborate in exploring these questions. A meeting was held in January 2005 at the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College to develop a series of workshops for liberal arts colleges and comprehensive universities throughout the country to begin the process of framing this discussion and making recommendations to NSF and other stake holders about programs that will help to reach these goals. These on-site workshops will be invitational, hosted in the spring by colleagues in the Atlanta region, the Philadelphia region, the mid-west and southern California. The outcomes of these onsite discussions will be posted on the PKAL website, as a foundation for broader electronic discussions in early summer, 2005.

In preparation for your attendance at this regional conversation on "What does it mean to be liberal educated in the 21st century?" please prepare a poster that conveys your institutions responses to these three goals.

Specifically address the following questions:

  1. Identify and describe programs and initiatives at your institution that you believe have improved or changed science education for non-science students.
  2. Identify and describe programs and initiatives at your institution that you believe have improved or changed science education for science students.
  3. Identify any programs or initiatives at your institution intended to accomplish improvements in the education of science and/or non-science students that failed to fully accomplish their goal. Please explain why they were not as effective as you had hoped.
  4. Suggest specific improvements in science education for both science and non-science students that should be made at your institution that will allow you "To educate students who will be at home in society and to educate a society that will be at home with science." Please provide the basis on which you've come to this conclusion.

At the regional conversations we will be discussing opportunities and challenges to meet the goals of the NSF report under our contemporary conditions. Some categories identified at the January 2005 organizing meeting, which may help to prepare you for the meeting and inform the development of your poster are given below.

  • How have the changing demographics of the US population affected science education?
  • How have issues of globalization affected science education?
  • How have recent efforts to institute active and collaborative learning affected science education?
  • How has the reorganization of the scientific enterprise affected science education?
  • How has the impetus to improve scientific knowledge/skills for work force development affected science education?
  • How have the changes in science and non-science teaching and curriculum development influenced one another?
Bulleting of Science, Technology and Society: A New Trivium and Quadrivium
Focusing on returning to the medieval trivium and quadrivium, George Bugliarello discusses how to approach science and its integration with other undergraduate subjects.
Project 2061
This long-term AAAS initiative, provides a resource on the advancement of science, math, and technology literacy.
Volume III - Thoughts on science as a liberal art
This essay from Volume III discusses the role of science as a liberal art.
Volume III - What works-The student's perspective
This essay from Volume III explores the student's perspective on a liberal education.