Published: Nov. 9, 2015

High school students learning scienceTo Physics Professor Noah Finkelstein, it's more of a movement. And it's one that will go a long way to address the well-documented shortage of professionals in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

The University of Colorado Boulder and University of Massachusetts Amherst are lead public campuses partnering with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to create a national network of about 200 campus STEM education centers.

This project, funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, will create a network that supports and incubates these centers, provides a critical resource for stakeholders to engage with universities around STEM education and allows for essential research on the nature of these centers and the processes of network formation.

“We are now in a position to move beyond individual and isolated efforts and to leverage cross-institutional work," said Finkelstein, CU-Boulder physics professor and network co-director.

STEM education centers serve as campus-based resources for addressing the national call for improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at the undergraduate level.

These centers serve as homes for interdisciplinary and cross-unit work, support transformation of educational practices, provide resources within and across disciplines and serve as a locus for educational research, evaluation and systematic transformation.

In recent years, there has been significant growth in number and scale of these centers yet there is no established network or coordination.

The project will also examine the capacities and mechanisms of individual centers and identify how such a network forms and what it may accomplish.

The five-year project will yield a new national resource that will impact individual centers and campuses and provide a new platform for systemic transformation of undergraduate STEM education.

The network will provide programming and resources for established and new STEM centers including conferences, learning communities, an online engagement platform, toolkits of resources for centers and directory of centers for the community and external stakeholders.

“It’s extremely valuable for institutions to have a dedicated forum to exchange ideas, compare practices and work together to address the pressing need to improve and expand undergraduate STEM education across the country,” Finkelstein said.

- View the University of Colorado Press Release