Faculty Academy 2012

How STEM through integrative partnerships, vision and a plan can drive institutional transformation: Part II

Presenters: Brian Rizzo

STEM is the where the money is!  Where there is money, there is opportunity.  Where there is opportunity, there is an increased propensity to succeed.  This country’s economic future, national security, and global leadership are heavily dependent on the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM.  STEM education is a national concern that will require support and commensurate funding for a decade or more if it is to firmly take root in our educational system.  This is not lost on Governor McDonnell, who has made it clear that STEM initiatives are important and will be supported within the state.  I present here an approach to STEM that I believe can differentiate UMW from its peers and provide this institution with something unique.

This approach calls for the recognition, and wherever possible, the inclusion of geospatial technologies into the curriculum across the three colleges.  While some exposure to GIS would certainly benefit both faculty and students, formal exposure to it is not a requirement.  This approach does not require all students to enroll in a GIS course.  It requires the concept of spatial thinking to be included in studies that frequently deal with topics and issues that have components of location, space, change over time, flows of information, regional, national or global issues and culture, to name only a few. 

This presentation will make the case for UMW to incorporate the concept of spatial thinking throughout the curriculum.  If adopted, the university will be better positioned to attract and respond to NSF STEM based opportunities, expand and develop outreach STEM based opportunities with local and regional partners, attract high school graduates who have been exposed to STEM and would like to continue their STEM education, and provide students with enhanced skills sets that will allow them to better compete for job opportunities.  It will also provide a much needed coherent strategy to address STEM as an institution.  Finally, this has the potential to differentiate UMW from all other schools in the state by providing us with a unique approach addressing the needs of the future and the needs of the student.

Author: Martha Burtis

Special Projects Coordinator

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