THE U.S. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES’
THE U.S. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES’
Working in partnership with scientists and scientific organizations in the Middle East / North Africa (MENA) and South and Southeast Asia, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has successfully adapted a model originally developed to transform the teaching of biology in U.S. colleges and universities to help scientists and students holistically engage in scientific integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research topics.
The Educational Institutes on Responsible Science are a vehicle to create an international network of life sciences researchers and educators who can (1) use methods of adult learning/pedagogy (i.e., the substantial body of research about how people learn) that promote improved student learning, through the utilization of active learning techniques and (2) teach about responsible science. Among other things, the Educational Institutes help scientists and students address concerns that knowledge and tools in biotechnology could be misused to cause harm either deliberately or inadvertently and frame these discussions as a matter of professional education and ethics.
Egyptian scientists and researchers were critical in the success of the first two regional Institutes (MENA I and MENA II), both as members of the NAS-appointed steering committee who developed and executing the Institutes and as engaged participants. Egyptian scientists, with the support of a number of Egyptian academic institutions, collaborated with an NAS-appointed committee over many months to develop and conduct two Institutes together, in March and July of 2015 in Ain El Sokhna. One of the stipulations of the program was that the NAS-appointed committee would hold an advisory role while the Egyptians would be at the helm of the 2 Institutes serving both in committee member and facilitator roles.
Committee members and facilitators met two days before the beginning of the first Institute for 1.5 days of facilitator training. During this training, the NAS-appointed committee members presented techniques for content delivery, ways to engage the participants, approaches to diffuse difficult situations, and assessments. The Egyptian committee members and facilitators practiced delivering the Responsible Science content getting feedback from the group. This iterative process continued throughout the Institute in March and into the Institute in July, allowing for all members to work together and provide constructive feedback to one another. Thus, the Institute effectiveness and impact continue to grow and improve.
On the pages below, we describe the major successes of the two Institutes held in Egypt, as well as the other activities they led to.
1st Educational Institute In Egypt
The two Egyptian Institutes were developed in parallel in order to to convey the same content and active learning techniques while reaching the widest number of Egyptian participants possible. The application announcement for both programs was widely distributed among Egyptian universities and research institutions, and through the outreach networks of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. We received 75 applications to attend Egypt 1, from 15 different institutions of higher learning. The backgrounds of the participants were exceptionally diverse, ranging from medical doctors and nurses to dentists, veterinarians, microbiologists, pharmacists and chemists. After a rigorous review process, the NAS-appointed and Egyptian committee members chose 25 participants representing 10 institutions of higher learning.
The Institute was co-chaired by an Egyptian and an NAS-appointed committee member who shared responsibilities for ensuring the Institute ran smoothly, all facilitators and speakers were prepared, and all participants were contributing to the best of their ability. The Institute opened with comments from Egyptian dignitaries and higher education professionals, followed by a short poster-creation activity to break the ice and model what was to come later in the week.
The Institute itself was a combination of short lectures, small group work, active learning activities (including concept maps, think-pair-share, creation of posters, and role-playing) and large group work. Every content unit for this Institute was presented by pairs of committee members.
Most afternoons were spent in small group work, each group preparing its presentation for the final day of the Institute. Each presentation focused on one from a number of pre-determined content areas (i.e., plagiarism, authorship issues, mentoring, laboratory safety or dual use research) and needed to display active learning pedagogy. These presentations were meant to be examples of teaching units/modules that each participant could teach upon his/her return to his/her home institution. Each group was assisted by a number of dedicated facilitators.
Following the presentations on the final day of the Institute, groups provided constructive feedback to each other regarding their presentations and the effectiveness of their active learning techniques. Participants were encouraged to apply for small implementation grants. The purpose of these grants, normally of $1,500 USD or less, was to provide a modicum of support to the participants as they implemented activities in their home institutions.
Egypt 1 was a resounding success, based on the number of participants, quality of final presentations, and the number of professional partnerships and friendships that were fostered. However, the biggest success was the transfer of knowledge and responsibility from the NAS-appointed committee to the Egyptian Institute leaders. Through three regional Institutes to date, the NAS-appointed committee, the developers of the concept and pedagogy, had always served as Institute leaders. In Egypt, participants from past Institutes became leaders in their own country, which was a significant step toward making the Institutes truly sustainable.
Egypt 1 Participants: 25 total (all from Egypt)
2nd Educational Institute In Egypt
As mentioned above, Egypt 2 was designed to be similar, if not the same, as Egypt 1 in content and approach. One important change was the role of the Egyptian committee members who now delivered all of the content and managed the other activities on their own. NAS-appointed committee members were in attendance to provide counsel and support, as well as feedback after the sessions had ended, but the execution of each session and each group work activity was entirely the responsibility of the Egyptian committee members.
Seventy-five applications were received from which 26 participants representing 16 institutions of higher education were chosen to attend.
Egypt 2 ran in a very similar manner to Egypt 1, which is explained in detail above.
Egypt 2 Participants: 26 total (all from Egypt)
Cairo, Egypt – May 2016
The reunion meetings for Egypt 1 and Egypt 2 were combined, to further encourage collaborations and beneficial in-country relationships.
The Egyptian Institutes were created specifically to reach as many Egyptian scientists and researchers as possible, but also to create a core group of scientists who are dedicated to the responsible conduct of science and utilization of active learning techniques. Twenty seven applications for small implementation grants were submitted from participants of Egypt 1 and Egypt 2. These applications involved 105 co-investigators and team members from across the country - some who had attended the Institutes and some who hadn’t, further broadening the reach of the program.
Seventeen grants were awarded and executed at institutions of higher education across Egypt. The principal investigators for each grant were invited to the reunion meeting to present their work and network with the other PIs and committee members.
At the reunion meeting, the committee members were thrilled to learn that many grantees had executed not only one workshop or meeting with their grants, but multiple workshops and events. Their creative use of institutional support, smart collaborations and Institute materials allowed their modest funds to cover multiple events, further broadening the reach of the Institutes and the concept of responsible science.
Grant applications received. 13 from Egypt 1 and 14 from Egypt 2
(Involved 105 co-investigators and applicants from within and outside of the Institute)
Participants at reunion
Reunion participants who became facilitators or committee members in subsequent Institutes
The success of the US National Academy of Sciences Educational Initiatives on Responsible Science program in Egypt goes beyond the number of activities held and their increasing complexity – it is displayed in the advancement of the participants themselves who have taken on additional responsibilities as facilitators and committee members and now become leaders in the teaching of Responsible Science in their own institutions. The programs in Egypt have directly reached 75 academic scientists and researchers, and countless more indirectly, through team work and grant applications, attendance at related events, and significant networking.
Below, we highlight some of the exciting achievements of the participants from our Institutes in Egypt.
Dr. Mohamed El-Shinawi (chair of the Egyptian committee who led Egypt 1 and Egypt 2) initiated the Ain Shams Medical Students Research Association, a group of medical students concerned with the responsible conduct of science.
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Dr. Mohamed Elhadidy was profiled in an Egyptian newspaper as a promising young scientist, highlighting his work in collaboration with the U.S. NAS.
Institute and LI alum Passant Moustafa applied for a 2016 grant under the US-Egypt Science and Technology Joint Fund with a collaborator from Vanderbilt University.
Committee member Yaldez Zein El Din attended the U.S. Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching program, the model on which the Educational Institutes are based.
Following the Leadership Institute, the Egyptian Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Society was formed.