Stony Brook Awarded Grant for National STEM Education Initiative

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Stony Brook University has received a three-year $300,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to support a national program housed at Stony Brook that will expand educational courses connecting indigenous knowledge to science. The program will also help advance partnerships between educators and indigenous populations.

Eliza Reilly, a research professor in the Department of Technology and Society, leads the project

The grant funds a National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) program, “Transcending Barriers to Success: Connecting Indigenous Knowledge to Science,” which will help to establish and advance robust partnerships between indigenous populations and educators to improve undergraduate educational outcomes for students, as well as promote cultural understanding. Eliza Reilly, NCSCE executive director and a research professor at Stony Brook University, leads the project as principal investigator.

“This important award from the Keck Foundation will support unique research central to one of Stony Brook University’s educational missions — to expand undergraduate education in STEM fields within the context of a diverse society,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “By also incorporating cultural understanding within all areas of the sciences, this transformative educational program will further enhance the academic experiences of faculty and students.”

The NCSCE is a national project housed within the Department of Technology and Society in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University. Its signature initiative is SENCER, a national program focused on empowering faculty and improving STEM teaching and learning by making connections to civic issues.

The award will help to build SENCER Hawaii’s educational model for advancing STEM learning in indigenous communities, extending it to Alaska and to selected pilot projects in other states.

During the grant period, 41 courses in areas such as chemistry, biology and environmental science will be revised and impact some 1,000 students. As the course revision and development takes place, 75 formal educators and administrators will partner with 37 native community leaders and 120 informal educators to deepen the educational collaborative. Local environmental and health issues will be discussed and provide context for inquiry-based learning that transcends perceived conflicts between local traditions and scientific ways of thinking.

Stony Brook is a key site for faculty development and a test-bed of curricular innovation for the SENCER initiative. Some of the faculty to be involved in the project under the Keck grant received training and attended workshops during the Summer Institute at Stony Brook. Approximately 250 national STEM educators also attended the Summer Institute from August 3 to August 6.

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