SENCER E-Newsletter, July/August 2006, Volume 5, Issue 10
Georgian and Armenian SENCER Projects are Finding Success in High School and Undergraduate Education
Karen Oates, SENCER Co-PI and Provost of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, recently traveled to the Republic of Georgia and Armenia to meet with our SENCER partners in the region. What follows is her report on the project to date and of her recent trip. It is an inspiring update on the exciting new work that this small supplemental grant has produced.
With supplemental support from the National Science Foundation, SENCER brought 11 members of the scientific community from Georgia and Armenia to the SENCER Summer Institute 2005. This "exchange" facilitated collaboration between our Georgian and Armenian colleagues and their U.S. counterparts in SENCER. It also furthered the expanding "global" dimension of the SENCER project which has included collaborations with African, South American, and Eurasian colleagues.
While in the U.S., our Georgian and Armenian colleagues spent time in the Washington, DC area meeting with representatives from the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, George Mason University, and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
Upon their return home, the Georgians held an assembly for institutions that are using SENCER materials and courses to "revitalize their curriculum." There were approximately 50 people in attendance. In March 2006, Ardith Maney traveled to Georgia with a team of faculty members from Iowa State University as a part of an on-going project between ISU and Georgian Technical University.
This May, I participated in a one-day symposium in Georgia that led to a long discussion on the future of education and the relationship between SENCER and State-sponsored reform measures. There were approximately 60 people in attendance. At the symposium, five high school students from the rural regions presented their projects to the faculty of the three major universities. They were just terrific!! It was just delightful to hear their approach to problem solving and civic engagement. I'd love to see similar American high school projects.
Over the course of our collaboration, I have noticed that the Georgian colleges and universities involved in SENCER have used the project materials (Models, Backgrounders, and the SENCER Ideals) to help in the country-wide reform of science education in higher education. Civic engagement, which has not previously been a part of their curriculum, appears to be helping this change come about. SENCER has now been incorporated into several important "pockets" of education in Georgia. A number of new courses have been based explicitly on the SENCER Models both at the collaborating universities and at several high schools in the remote regions.
Following this Spring's symposium in Tbilisi, three members of the Georgian group accompanied me (on a six-hour rocky van ride) to Armenia. There we met with Armenian SSI 2005 alumni. We had a series of productive meetings and were briefed on the successes and challenges in implementing SENCER activities. Our Armenian collaborators described plans to create two teaching and learning centers and incorporate newly developed SENCER modules into their "traditional" courses. Our group also met with the Rector and Vice Rector at the State Engineering University of Armenia and Harutyun Karapetyan, the Chairmen of the National Foundation of Science and Advance Technologies.
Both the Armenian and Georgian projects have taken a modest amount of funds and have created robust SENCER projects. I am inspired to have seen how SENCER evolves on foreign soil and I look forward to the next set of activities our Georgian and Armenian colleagues pursue.