Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Introduction to PKAL Volume IV

This new PKAL publication, Volume IV: What Works, What Matters and What Lasts, is designed as a resource for current and rising leaders with responsibility for the strength of the nation's programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the undergraduate setting, leaders on campuses across the country and in the broader community of stakeholders. It provides easy access to insights, ideas, and materials shaping the future of undergraduate STEM, from within and beyond the PKAL community.

This publication 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.

The PKAL charge from Volume III in regard to facilities planning would need to be rephrased only slightly to hold true for cumulative efforts to transform the undergraduate STEM learning environment:

Moving from idea of physical reality in the process of planning new structures for science is a long-complicated, complex undertaking, one that involves the collaborative involvement and leadership of many members of your community. The challenge to those with leadership roles in the planning process– administrators, trustees, and faculty alike– is to create and sustain a community that is sympathetic with, and supportive of, a strong science program. There are different leadership and management roles that come into play in your planning. Each of these involves responsibilities that must be fulfilled if the project is to proceed as planned. How they are assumed and assigned, however, will differ from campus to campus, based on local culture and policies, the level of expertise available on your campus, and the scope of your project. Leaders must be mindful that all with a stake in the project have the opportunity to shape the vision...

As with planning new structures for science, the work of 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.

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