About the 2003 PKAL Assemblies

The ten PKAL assemblies in 2003 recognize and celebrate the ten years of the PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century Network. They build upon PKAL's experience since 1992 with over 150 workshops, the recent PKAL Summer Institutes, and the traditional PKAL F21 Annual National Assembly. They provide a new opportunity for STEM faculty leaders at all career stages, their administrative colleagues, and other stakeholders in a strong national undergraduate STEM community to share ideas and insights about what works in building strong undergraduate STEM programs and to set an agenda for action at the local and national level.

This is a time of opportunity for persons with leadership responsibility for nurturing strong 21st century undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There is growing awareness that:

  • the whole fabric of science is changing rapidly: disciplinary boundaries are dissolving and new technologies are supporting communities of practice in ways quite different from the past
  • the student population is becoming more diverse from the perspective of age, background, learning styles, and career aspirations
  • "science for all" must become an objective for a society greatly influenced by science and technology issues
  • private industries, government agencies, and the K-12 community are increasingly seeking graduates well-equipped for, and motivated to enter, careers requiring scientific and technological capacities.

These 2003 PKAL assemblies are designed to prepare institutional teams to respond creatively to these opportunities and to assume active leadership roles in building and sustaining strong learning environments on their campus. The assemblies will address reform from the institutional perspective:

  • shaping new inter- and cross-disciplinary programs that serve 21st century science and society
  • integrating information technologies throughout the learning environment
  • connecting student learning to the world beyond the campus (global S&T communities, the 21st century workplace, the K - 12 community, etc.)
  • providing opportunities for all students to engage in rigorous learning within a research-rich environment
  • motivating students to pursue careers that capitalize on their interests, experience and skills in scientific, engineering, and technological fields.

Based on recent experiences of many campuses, there is growing awareness also of the feasibility of scaling-up and institutionalizing practices that are having demonstrable effectiveness in strengthening STEM learning of undergraduates and of the urgency to do so. Thus, this new PKAL series is for faculty in– or moving into– positions of leadership at the departmental, divisional, and institutional level. Further, administrators with responsibilities for the development of faculty, program and the physical infrastructure, as well as fund-raising, budgeting, and institutional research, will contribute to and benefit from participating.

This broader focus for the design of PKAL workshops reflects our conviction that to take advantage of opportunities such as those described above, there must be in place at the institutional level:

  • a common understanding of and commitment to goals for student learning across the campus community
  • a collaborative effort to incorporate learning goals into the design, implementation and assessment of curricular and co-curricular programs
  • a "full-court press" engaging all appropriate players within the campus community, those charged with making decisions about shaping curricular/co-curricular programs, faculty careers, facilities, budgets, etc.
  • leaders with a vision of the future for their students, professional field, institution, and with the political skills to keep their community working together to realize that future.

The design follows the time-tested PKAL workshop approach:

  • participating teams will collaborate before the workshop in analyzing their particular circumstances
  • during the workshop, from hands-on sessions exploring new approaches and engagement in dialogue about critical issues, through consulting and individual work sessions, they will draft an agenda for action for their community
  • follow-up activities are expected, including participation in networks that continue beyond the assembly.

The PKAL focus on leadership development will also be a thread through all the 2003 workshops, encouraging participants to link planning of their institutional agenda for action to the three dimensions of leadership:

  • bringing their community to a common vision about what matters and what lasts
  • identifying and implementing what works for their particular community
  • understanding the responsibilities and opportunities for leadership at the personal level.