- About PKAL
W.M. Keck - PKAL Consultation Program
An important dimension of PKAL’s role as "intelligence broker" for the undergraduate STEM community was the consultant program supported by the W. M. Keck Foundation. This consultant program illustrates one important lesson learned during two decades of reform: that the work of reformers on an individual campus is facilitated when they see themselves of a broader community, in the same way that the work of researchers is advanced when ideas and insights, materials and practices are shared and vetted with peers. Over 125 colleges and universities have taken the opportunity to engage Keck/PKAL consultants as a means to foster informed discussions about strategic initiatives toward the end of setting and realizing goals that enable the institution to serve their STEM students most creatively.
Address structural barriers to reform
Request: the institution sought advice on getting interdisciplinary programs established on a campus with a history of strong departments. The challenge was a lack of trust among departments, between faculty and administrators. Recommendations:
- Develop clear and consistent college-wide policies, within the regular academic governance system, that set forth expectations for review of faculty participating in interdisciplinary programs
- Develop and adopt a clear and consistent pattern to govern the formation, maturation, and resource allocation for interdisciplinary programs. The existing system– with ID programs under the governance of a sub-committee of the general faculty committee on committee contributes to the current difficulty of sorting through personnel and curricular issues, and sends the wrong signal about institutional commitment.
- Have college-wide discussions on the meaning of "interdisciplinary" for your community. There appears to be a pervasive disconnect between administrative and faculty definitions of interdisciplinary, and issues of governance and expectations cannot be resolved unless there is agreement about the philosophy and value of such program.