published March 1, 2007

SENCER E-Newsletter, March 2007, Volume 6, Issue 6

SENCER International Partners Convene in Georgia: Georgian and Armenian Delegates Discuss Accomplishments and Future Collaborations

SENCER has burgeoning international branches, thanks to the dedication and hard work of groups of faculty, administrators, and students committed to improving teacher preparation and science education in their countries. Many SENCER alumni have also formed strong partnerships with American or other international colleagues after participating in a Summer Institute, and projects resulting from those collaborations have begun to mature. Last month's newsletter focused on programs developing in South Africa at the University of Johannesburg through the work of SENCER alumni Debra Meyer, Nadine Petersen, and Vanessa Merkel.

Similarly, SENCER alumni in Georgia and Armenia have been extremely active since their most recent attendance at a SENCER Summer Institute, in 2005, using the SENCER ideals to shape programs and create teaching and learning centers at various universities. In February 2007, the first Georgia-Armenia SENCER Congress was convened at the Georgian Technical University. Professor Ia Zhvania, a Leading Scientist at the Institute of Physiology, Dr. Nana Japaridze, a Senior Scientist at the Institute of Physiology, and Professor Lali Ghogehiani, coordinator of the SENCER project at Georgian Technical University, were the driving forces behind the content and organization, and served as hosts of the conference. Both Georgian and Armenian teams have developed strong institutional presences at their respective universities by weaving the SENCER ideals and approaches into teaching and learning centers. Georgian colleagues from multiple institutions and a visiting group from Armenia shared information about their work and discussed the possibility of future collaborations with each other and American colleges/universities.

Participants attended a variety of sessions on progress in Georgian and Armenian schools, led by SENCER alumni and on-campus leaders. All delegates also participated in future-oriented discussions and had the opportunity to go to professional development workshops. In the opening address, congressional delegates were challenged in remarks sent from SENCER Co-PI Karen Kashmanian Oates to consider three questions during the gathering and in their future work:

(1) How do we encourage and mentor more young minds to enter science, math, engineering, and technology careers and contribute to creating the solutions for both local and global problems?

(2) What is our personal responsibility as scientists and engineers and especially as teachers for our future workforce? What can we do? How can we lead change to create an environment that supports student learning in the STEM fields?

(3) How can we disseminate the results of what works, the impacts of our work and our success stories whether it be in new teaching approaches or new research collaboration? Where can we go to leverage these successes to secure additional funding and sustainability of SENCER in Georgia and Armenia?

Group Shot 4

Through a series of workshops, roundtable discussions, and addresses, the conference attendees began to form answers to those questions. We hope to extend that discussion to colleagues from America and other countries at the Summer Institute in Maine this year, where a delegation from Georgia will be joining us, and through virtual discussions throughout the year.