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Northwestern leads multi-university effort to increase diversity in STEM fields

National Science Foundation grants $3 million to develop inclusive STEM curriculum

Science classroom

A group of eight universities, led by Northwestern University, has received a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop and implement a program that aims to change the way undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses are taught on a national scale.

The project, called Inclusive Learning and Teaching in Undergraduate STEM Instruction, will train current and future university faculty in teaching methods that are more inclusive to diverse populations.

Bennett Goldberg, director of the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching and assistant provost for learning and teaching at Northwestern, leads the project, which also includes educators and scholars from the University of Michigan, Des Moines Area Community College, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Boston University, the University of Georgia and Marshalltown Community College in Iowa.

25,000undergraduate students impacted

Project leaders estimate that over the next five years, the training will prepare more than 500 current faculty and an additional 4,000 STEM doctoral and postdoctoral scholars in inclusive teaching practices, impacting the learning experiences of more than 25,000 STEM undergraduate students.

The project includes creation of professional-development content that applies theatrical and improvisational dramatization to help participants build awareness and personal understanding of social identity, power and positionality.

The content will be delivered to scholars and educators through online courses and workshops, as well as in-person training sessions.

Through this project, current and future STEM educators will learn inclusive teaching methods that will reduce disparities between genders and among underrepresented minority groups; improve students’ sense of belonging, self-efficacy and STEM identity; and ultimately diversify the national STEM workforce.

Goldberg and Northwestern also are involved in a separate NSF-funded project that aims to recruit more diverse faculty to STEM fields. Led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, “Aspire: A National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty” was recognized recently with a $10 million NSF INCLUDES Alliance grant.

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