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Stony Brook New Home to NSF STEM Civic-Centered Learning Program


Assembled after the SENCER presentation at Stony Brook University are SENCER national leaders and Stony Brook faculty involved in the new initiative. From left: Christine DeCarlo, SENCER Engaging Mathematics Coordinator; Danielle Kraus-Tarka, SENCER Deputy Director for Operations, Community Outreach, and Engagement; Eliza J. Reilly, SENCER Deputy Executive Director for Programs; David Ferguson, Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Technology and Society at Stony Brook, and the University’s Liaison for SENCER; Lauren Donavan of Stony Brook’s Department of Technology and Society; Wm. David Burns is Executive Director of NCSCE, and the Principal Investigator of SENCER; Hailey Chenevert, SENCER Manager of Informal Science Education Partnership Program; and Kyle Simmons, SENCER Faculty Development Events Manager.

STONY BROOK, NY – March 31, 2016 –  Stony Brook University is the new home to SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities). Formerly located at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, SENCER is a national initiative connecting “the science of learning to the learning of science,” with the goal to expand civic capacity and connect science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content to real world problems.

Established in 2001 by the National Science Foundation’s Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement national dissemination track, SENCER is the signature program of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE). It is geared toward strengthening undergraduate student learning and interest in the STEM disciplines by connecting course topics to critical issues of local, national and global importance. The move to Stony Brook comes after NCSCE, with support from the NSF's ICORPS-L program, explored new strategies for achieving larger scale and sustainability for those activities in which NSF has made substantial investments.

“I am thrilled to welcome SENCER to Stony Brook University,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the college in which SENCER is housed. “SENCER’s commitment to STEM education and visionary leadership in developing multidisciplinary courses focused on complex societal challenges mirror our own educational philosophy. I can’t imagine a better home for SENCER than Stony Brook."

SENCER, with Research Professor Wm. David Burns as founder and Executive Director, offers resources to assist educators in creating or modifying courses and programs in a range of disciplines. Its approach to curricular enhancement and faculty development uses the urgency and significance of complex and pressing civic challenges.

David Ferguson, Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Technology and Society, and facilitator for the SBU SENCER activities, says that SENCER is a major addition to Stony Brook University’s initiatives that foster the development of comprehensive advances in STEM education.

“NCSCE has been a major contributor to our nation’s efforts to enhance STEM education,” said Dr. Ferguson, “and we are excited that Stony Brook will play an even greater role in the future.”


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SENCER applies the science of learning to the learning of science, all to expand civic capacity. SENCER courses and programs connect science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content to critical local, national, and global challenges. Students and faculty report that the SENCER approach makes science more real, accessible, "useful," and civically important.  SENCER improves science education by focusing on real world problems and, by so doing, extends the impact of this learning across the curriculum to the broader community and society. They do this by developing faculty expertise in teaching "to" basic, canonical science and mathematics "through" complex, capacious, often unsolved problems of civic consequence. Using materials, assessment instruments, and research developed through SENCER, faculty members design curricular projects that connect science learning to real world challenges.  In designing SENCER, the leaders used methods and strategies derived from existing knowledge concerning undergraduate STEM education so that both the STEM learning and the curricular reforms would be durable. Since SENCER’s launch in 2001, more than 50 SENCER model courses have been developed. These have engaged more than 3,000 educators and administrators from over 600 formal and informal educational institutions, and other organizations.

About the NCSCE

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) offers programs, services, and assets to colleges, universities, schools, and community organizations designed to make STEM education real, relevant, rigorous, and responsible, and support student success and achievement. In addition to SENCER, programs include SENCER-ISE (Informal Science Education), Engaging Mathematics, and  Coupling Civic Engagement with Academic Support Programs to Retain Minority Students in STEM.

About Stony Brook University 

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 25,000 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 100 universities in the nation and top 40 public universities, and Kiplinger names it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. A global ranking by U.S. News & World Report places Stony Brook in the top 1 percent of institutions worldwide.  It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

Greg Filiano
Media Relations Manager
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University
Office of Communications and Marketing



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