Network Experience and What Works

Karen Oates
Associate Dean, New Century College, George Mason University
Senior Science Fellow, Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER)

Experience Direct and applicable experience with networks include the development of "nodes" for partnership schools involved in the Preparing Future Faculty program (PFF) sponsored by The Council of Graduate Schools and Association of American Colleges and Universities. In addition "partnership nodes" were also utilized for the Program on Health and Higher Education that included neighboring colleges and universities interested in HIV/AIDS education issues. Beyond "nodes," the "cluster" approach was developed to maintain networks for the SENCER- Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities dissemination work. Clusters were based on specific disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics etc.) or interest topics (health, learning communities, pre-service teachers). The cluster model is flexible and open leaving options to add new clusters as needed.

What Works Networks can take on many different configurations based on a variety of parameters from geographic location, similar institution types, specific disciplines etc. each has a significant likelihood to work. In my experience the three major factors for success include:

  • A strong, sustainable commitment from the national office leadership
  • A strong, sustainable commitment from the network leaders

Recognition for the work being done on the individual campus by faculty involved