ing that sales have risen from about 6,000 for the first edition, published in 1994, to an estimated 23,000 for the sixth edition, published in 2008, show that adoption of the curriculum is growing. Translations into other languages and other regional and cultural contexts are evidence that the curriculum is adaptable.
Middlecamp suggested that two factors—the role of professional societies and the sustainability challenge—have helped advance the goals of wide adoption and catalyzing development of similar curricula. The American Chemical Society’s sponsorship of Chemistry in Context, including its active role in dissemination, played a role in the early success of the project, she said. In addition, an initiative on liberal education by the American Association of Colleges and Universities calls for undergraduates to develop science knowledge through engagement with “big questions, both contemporary and enduring” (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2008). By recommending this learning outcome, the professional society supports the adoption of Chemistry in Context and also encourages development of other science curricula that take a similar, real-world approach.
At the same time, the global challenge of sustainability drives a need for scientifically and technologically informed citizens and encourages higher education institutions and professional societies to focus STEM curricula on this real-world challenge. For example, the Curriculum for the Bioregion Initiative of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education has engaged STEM faculty to define sustainability learning outcomes (see http://www.evergreen.edu/washcenter/project.asp?pid=62). The American Association for the Advancement of Science focused its 2009 annual meeting on sustainability with the theme Our Planet and Its Life: Origins and Futures.
Middlecamp closed by proposing that STEM higher education faculty target curriculum and instruction to the areas of intersection among their own vision of teaching and learning, what students care about, the challenges facing the planet.
Bruce Grant (Widener University) began his presentation by emphasizing the importance of addressing students’ alternative conceptions of evolution. He noted that the United States ranked near the bottom in a recent comparative international study on the proportion of the public that accepts the theory of evolution (Miller, Scott, and Okamoto, 2006). Grant suggested that this lack of acceptance of a well supported theory reflects a larger ideological struggle in American society over the basic concept that evidence matters. He explained that he was motivated to change his teach-