Project Kaleidoscope

Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts, 2004- present

PKAL's Online Publication

A central activity of PKAL’s Leadership Initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the publication of PKAL Volume IV. This is a varied collection of national, topical and disciplinary reports, personal and institutional stories, theoretical essays and practical check-lists designed to inform the work of those with leadership responsibility for building robust 21st century STEM learning environments for American undergraduates.

Volume IV builds upon and expands existing PKAL efforts directed toward identifying, nurturing and enhancing leadership in undergraduate STEM. It is grounded in the PKAL vision of what works outlined in PKAL Volume I: What Works– Building Natural Science Communities, and is a companion to PKAL Volume III: Structures for Science– A Handbook for Planning Facilities for Undergraduate Natural Science Communities. It includes practical advice from the trenches, provocative and reflective essays about the dimensions of leaders, and illustrative stories relating the experiences of leaders making a difference for their students, for science, and for society. As in those earlier reports, we emphasize here that the effort must engage the entire community, and that such community engagement is both means and end of the process.

As this electronic publication has evolved since its inception in 2004, we have captured some of the valuable materials prepared for and emerging from activities involving the campuses that have been participating as PKAL Leadership Initiative (LI) campuses. The three LI threads of leadership development suggest the tapestry that is Volume IV: a) fostering a leadership vision about the “why” of change, given a distinctive institutional mission and identity in the changing national and international context; b) dealing with the politics, policies and pitfalls of transforming institutions, such as those relating to spheres of responsibility [department chairs; learning center directors, senior academic officers, budget directors, etc.]; and c) reflecting on one’s own opportunities to make a difference as a leader, bottom-up or top-down.

Beginning in 2007, we will be reassembling disparate postings into a set of topical publications, with the intent to arrive at a companion piece to PKAL’s valued Volume III on What Works: A handbook for planning new spaces for science. Two “work-in-progress” compilations are already posted, one for department chairs and another for directors of learning/teaching centers.

The title for Volume IV, what works, what matters, what lasts signals that the challenge to leaders is to extend and enhance the capacity of the institution to offer an educational program of distinction for years to come. What works today may work less well in tomorrow's circumstances; What matters today will matter in different ways tomorrow. What lasts must be viewed in the context of an ever-changing world. What works is thus a continual questioning about what matters and what lasts that takes account of the present and envisions the future. Such questioning, and the process of engaging communities in framing questions and generating answers, is the work of today's leaders as they move forward, shaping their future.