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Work in Progress: Transformation through Liberal Arts-Focused Grand Challenges Scholars Programs

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Liberal Education Division Technical Session 11

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count

22

DOI

10.18260/1-2--33657

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33657

Download Count

111

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Paper Authors

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Alison Wood Olin College of Engineering

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Dr. Alison Wood is an assistant professor of Environmental Engineering at Olin College of Engineering. She is a researcher in the fields of both water and sanitation, as well as a researcher and practitioner in using interdisciplinary thinking and approaches to solving environmental and sustainability problems. Dr. Wood is also pursuing her interests in the areas of equity and justice through education and engagement with context and values.

In addition to her teaching and advising duties at Olin, Dr. Wood serves as the Director of the Babson-Olin-Wellesley Three College Sustainability Certificate Program, the Director of Olin’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program, on the Catalyst Board of the open source journal Murmurations, and as a member of Olin’s Context and Ethics in Engineering Education Working Group.

After graduating from Harvard University with a B.A. in Dramatic Literature, Dr. Wood worked professionally in theater and wrote and recorded two musical albums. She then returned to school to study engineering, earning a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Rutgers University. Dr. Wood then went on to earn a Master of Science in Engineering in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, while working with the Austin chapter of Engineers Without Borders as a volunteer and project lead for a project in Peru.

She has published and presented on incentivizing decentralized sanitation and wastewater treatment, on sustainability of coastal community water and sanitation service options, as well as on integrating liberal arts and STEM education, currently through the vehicle of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program. She has co-designed workshops oriented toward educational change for Olin’s Summer Institute and the joint Olin College-Emerson College event: Remaking Education.

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Selin Arslan Lawrence Technological University

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Jason Barrett Lawrence Technological University

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Assoc Prof of History and Humanities Dept Chair; Grand Challenge Scholars Program Director

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Sarah Aileen Brownell Rochester Institute of Technology (COE)

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Sarah Brownell is the Director of the Grand Challenges Scholars Program and a Lecturer in Design, Development and Manufacturing for the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She works extensively with students in the multidisciplinary engineering capstone design course and other project based elective courses, incorporating human centered design, participatory development, and design for development themes. She was a co-founder of the non-profit Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) which promotes ecological sanitation in Haiti.

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Andrew Mark Herbert Rochester Institute of Technology

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Matthew Marshall Rochester Institute of Technology (COE)

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Matthew Marshall is Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He received a Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2002.

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Karen Kashmanian Oates Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Karen Kashmanian Oates
A nationally recognized consultant, scientist, science educator, and higher education leader, Dr. Oates joined WPI from the National Science Foundation, where she had been serving as deputy director of the Division of Undergraduate Education. At the NSF, Karen managed a budget of over $380 million and a staff of more than 35 charged with supporting innovative programs to strengthen undergraduate and graduate education and helped revitalize American entrepreneurship and competitiveness.
As the inaugural Dean of Arts and Sciences, Karen brought a variety of perspectives on faculty development, career and executive counseling, leading change and setting a collaborative culture as well as service learning and business-higher education partnerships. She is now a partner in Success 4 Higher Education (www.s4he.com). Among the honors she has received are the Bruce Albert’s Award, presented by the American Society to Cell Biology for excellence in science education reform, and the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest civilian honor presented by the City of Harrisburg Pennsylvania. In 2012, she was inducted as a fellow into the prestigious American Association for the Advancement as Science Education fellow, and in 2016 a Sigma Xi distinguished lecturer. She now leads the University efforts for National Academy of Engineers – Global Grand Challenge Scholar program.
After receiving her Ph.D. at George Washington University Medical Center in Biochemistry, she worked as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute Oncology and Hematology Division. She began her academic career at George Mason University, where, as associate dean for the newly established College of Integrated and Interdisciplinary Studies, she helped create George Mason’s New American College environment. She later served as inaugural provost for the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, where she established the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and helped secure NSF funds for Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibilities, SENCER which works to improve undergraduate STEM/STEAM education by connecting learning to critical civic questions.
After 7 years as dean, Karen has returned to the faculty at WPI and mamages Success 4 Higher Education (www.s4he.com).

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David Spanagel Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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David Spanagel is an Associate Professor of History in the Department of Humanities and Arts at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass. He has been active as an innovator in curriculum and instructional approaches. He co-developed the Power the World course (one of the first Great Problems Seminar themes offered as part of WPI's First Year Experience) back in 2007, and he co-developed a similar course on Extinctions in 2017 which he currently teaches with a colleague in wildlife biology. He has pioneered collaborative learning approaches in the history capstone projects that he advises for students completing the Humanities and Arts requirement. He worked with colleagues to overhaul and update WPI’s history of science and technology course offerings in 2009, and again in 2017. Prior to acquiring a Ph.D. in the history of science at Harvard (1996), David's first graduate degree (an M.S. Ed.) involved academic research into mathematical problem solving techniques and pedagogy. Thus, his very first publication was an article on "Solving Extreme Value Problems Without Calculus," published in The Mathematics Teacher (1988).

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James J. Winebrake Rochester Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4520-1642

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Dr. James Winebrake currently serves as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at RIT. He works with the college’s faculty, staff and students to advance education and scholarship in the social sciences, humanities, and performing arts, while also promoting interdisciplinary initiatives across RIT’s nine colleges. One of his key initiatives is the integration of liberal arts and technology/engineering curricula at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Dr. Winebrake previously served as chair of RIT’s Department of Science, Technology and Society/Public Policy and has earned international recognition for his research on issues related to the environmental impacts of transportation, including health risk assessments, life-cycle analysis of alternative fuels, and analysis of policies aimed at reducing emissions in the transportation sector. He serves or has served on several National Academies of Science committees, the New York State Energy Planning Board, and other professional boards related to energy and environmental technology and policy.

In 2010 Dr. Winebrake was awarded the RIT Trustees Scholar Award in recognition of his scholarly contributions in the energy and environmental fields. He has also received numerous other research and teaching awards during his career, including the Madison Scholar Award and the Outstanding Teacher Award while serving as a faculty member at James Madison University in Virginia.

Dr. Winebrake received his PhD in Energy Management and Policy from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA). He also holds a B.S. in Physics from Lafayette College (Easton, PA) and a M.S. in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA).

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Yevgeniya V. Zastavker Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

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Yevgeniya V. Zastavker, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Physics at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and a recent Director of the Research Institute for Experiential Learning Science at Northeastern University. She earned her B.S. degree in Physics from Yale University in 1995 and her Ph. D. degree in Biological Physics from MIT in 2001. Dr. Zastavker's research interests lie in the field of STEM education with specific emphasis on innovative pedagogical and curricular practices at the intersection with the issues of gender and diversity. With the goal of improving learning opportunities for all students and equipping faculty with the knowledge and skills necessary to create such opportunities, Dr. Zastavker's recent work involves questions pertaining to students’ motivational attitudes and their learning journeys in a variety of educational environments. One of the founding faculty at Olin College, Dr. Zastavker has been engaged in development and implementation of project-based experiences in fields ranging from science to engineering and design to social sciences (e.g., Critical Reflective Writing; Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, etc.) All of these activities share a common goal of creating curricular and pedagogical structures as well as academic cultures that facilitate students' interests, motivation, and desire to persist in engineering. Through this work, outreach, and involvement in the community, Dr. Zastavker continues to focus on the issues of women and minorities in science/engineering.

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Abstract

The National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) was created to better prepare students to tackle the immense and immensely complex challenges of the twenty-first century. The program does this by providing education and experiences in five competency areas: talent, multidisciplinary, viable business/entrepreneurship, multicultural, and social consciousness. These competencies align well with education and experiences often acquired under the umbrella of the liberal arts. This alignment, along with the rising tide of evidence that integration of liberal arts with STEM is beneficial for students’ education, led representatives from four colleges - Olin College of Engineering, Lawrence Technological University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute - to undertake a collaborative project, supported with funding from the Teagle Foundation, to explore GCSP as a vehicle for integrating liberal arts with STEM education (primarily engineering) and addressing the NAE’s five competencies. GCSP inherently engages students beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries and encourages students to see the limits of single-method approaches to technological problem solving. The program creates opportunities for engineering (and non-engineering) students from diverse fields to engage with the social and humanistic dimensions of the Grand Challenges. When additional emphasis is placed on deep integration of liberal arts with engineering disciplines, GCSP even more effectively roots students in paradigms, epistemologies, and methodologies that they would otherwise not encounter during an engineering undergraduate degree. As discussed in a 2018 National Academies’ report, developing conceptual frameworks “may enable [non-experts] to learn content more readily because they can then better understand the relevance of that information and its connections with otherwise seemingly disparate facts;” that is, the development of new conceptual frameworks, derived from a variety of disciplines, can help students better understand and synthesize a broader range of information. Gaining experience in these new ways of thinking and doing qualitatively changes the way in which students approach both learning and practice. New modes of thought and increased integration of learning and ideas also help students connect their interior, personal development with the “grand challenges” they study in GCSP, leading them to identify roles for themselves in tackling these complex problems; this identification lends itself to agency development and increased motivation. Thus we suggest that participation in a “liberal arts-infused GCSP” transforms a student’s learning experience through not only acquisition of new information but also new ways of thinking, knowing, doing, and being.

As this approach to GCSP provides transformational experiences for students, the creation of these programs has also led to transformations at the levels of the participating institutions. With implementation of GCSP now in different stages at our four schools, all are finding evidence of transformations occurring at the student, institute, and community level. We illustrate these transformations in this paper and suggest that they were driven by development of liberal arts-infused GCSPs.

Wood , A., & Arslan, S., & Barrett, J., & Brownell, S. A., & Herbert, A. M., & Marshall, M., & Oates, K. K., & Spanagel, D., & Winebrake, J. J., & Zastavker, Y. V. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Transformation through Liberal Arts-Focused Grand Challenges Scholars Programs Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33657

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