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Bio 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists
NATIONAL NETWORKS FOR REFORM
Transformation of the undergraduate biology currculum is tied to issues that extend beyond the reach of a single campus. Issues related to faculty rewards, recognition, respect, and promotion and tenure are national in scope. Many individuals, institutions, organizations, and informal networks are working to address these issues. Many disciplinary societies have education committees that address undergraduate teaching. Some, such as the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), employ full-time staff to make these efforts more successful. ASM holds two education meetings annually, one focused on faculty and the other on undergraduates themselves. Other groups devoted to undergraduate education in biology are less formal. The Association of College & University Biology Educators (ACUBE) was first established in 1957 as the Association of Midwest College Biology Teachers, but now tries to attract more nationwide participation. ACUBE works to improve the teaching of the biological sciences, identify common problems involving biological curricula, encourage active participation in biological research by teachers and students in the belief that such participation is an invaluable adjunct to effective teaching, and create a collective voice for teachers of the biological sciences. Additional information is available at http://www.acube.org/.
One group with a national reach is Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL). PKAL members include faculty from all types of colleges and universities and all disciplines of the sciences. An important feature of PKAL is that participants in disciplinary and interdisciplinary workshops leave with specific action plans to implement on their home campus. Project Kaleidoscope has worked since 1989 to identify and disseminate sound principles and methods on which to base undergraduate education in the natural sciences and mathematics. The PKAL reform movement has used a multidisciplinary approach, bringing scientists from many disciplines together to work through common issues. It operates by looking for “what works” and encouraging others to apply those approaches in their own teaching. PKAL is currently focusing on the importance of institutional change and building design in educational reform. Its meetings, workshops, and institutes have helped to break down some of the barriers between chemists and biologists, particularly among the younger generation of faculty involved in PKAL’s Faculty for the 21st Century. This initiative provides support for young professors who have been recognized by their academic deans as emerging education leaders by linking them with similar