Afterword

AFTERWORD

 


The PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century is a network of faculty in undergraduate STEM, identified by a senior administrator on their campus because of their leadership capacity. From the first Class of 1994, there are now over 1200 PKAL F21 members, many now in positions of leadership on their campus and in national professionals associations. Each year, F21 members are invited to submit a personal statement on leadership in the work of reform; the F21 sidebars presented in this publication are excerpts from that collection of statements.

This report on reports has several purposes, to:

  • remind those familiar with these visions and recommendations of their continued applicability to the work of leading agents of change
  • alert emerging leaders within stakeholder communities to the richness of visions and the relevance of recommendations already on the table
  • provide a set of benchmarks against which individuals, institutions, associations, and agencies can determine the clarity of their vision and the credibility of their agendas for action
  • set the stage for the next generation of reports that capture both the experiences of those taking these recommendations seriously and– perhaps more important– the work of those identifying and addressing new challenges facing our society.
  • We hope people read this report with pencil in hand, marking the themes and issues already being addressed within their community and those that might need more concerted action, short- or long-term. We hope also that this publication sparks much dialogue within departments and at the institutional level, in disciplinary societies and educational associations, and perhaps in national or regional gatherings of educators, policy makers, and/or other supporters.

    A persistent theme in this diverse set of reports is the call for collective action. Dialogue with colleagues and peers is one step toward that end. But collective action is more than talking together; it is taking responsibility for the active sharing of ideas and materials– building on, connecting to, and enhancing the work of others. We must find a better balance between the need for individuals to “own” a new approach (from a nascent idea through final implementation) and the need for more expedient action that comes from learning about and adapting the work of others. The time is too short and the task too great for individuals or institutions to work in isolation.

    We must also find a way to identify and bring new voices into the dialogue. There are faculty and institutions exploring at the edges, leading the undergraduate STEM community into a world that is more interdisciplinary, more global, more technologically-connected, more dependent on the scientific and quantitative literacy of citizens. There are also individual and institutional leaders developing models of effective practices that serve the increasing diversity of backgrounds and aspirations of students coming to our campuses, as well as the growing demands of our nation’s high-tech workforce. Perhaps most important, we need to capture the experiences of campuses that have established programs that reflect a specific vision: that the richest educational experience for undergraduate students is one that connects the study of science and mathematics to learning in all disciplines, an essential part of the 21st century experience of learning. We need mechanisms to provide a public forum for these emerging agents of change so their visions and experiences drive the next generation of recommendations.