published June 1, 2007

SENCER E-Newsletter, June 2007, VOlume 6, Issue 9

SSI 2007 Team Focus: Lipscomb University

Alan Bradshaw - Associate Professor of Physics

A team representing Lipscomb University (TN) will attend the SENCER Summer Institute for the first time this year, at a critical junction in the history of our institution. For some time, our faculty have wrestled tacitly with the need for reform of our general education program. In recent months, this university-wide conversation has become more active and animated as we move closer to a coherent curriculum that provides each undergraduate student with a broad liberal arts education even as pre-professional programs gain in popularity. Thus, the need for an integrated approach to science education has never been more pronounced.

Many of the members of our team attending the SENCER Summer Institute have also been engaged in the development of a new trans-disciplinary course appropriate for non-science majors that integrates physics, chemistry, biology, earth science and astronomy and which will potentially include contributions from nutrition science and psychological sciences. We have discussed utilizing a "problem-based" approach, where students would engage in the application of scientific principles learned in the classroom to potentially real-life scenarios and civic issues that are "complex, capacious and unsolved." Example topics could address popular questions surrounding global warming, sustainable and renewable sources of energy, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. We believe that this type of academic approach could result in more active learning for students who have traditionally viewed these courses as little more than a graduation requirement.

We hope that our involvement at SSI 2007 will result in the generation of new ideas that we can implement as we move forward with this new integrated science course and in the larger context of our general education reform. Our team consists of Jim Arnett, Professor of Biology; Alan Bradshaw, Associate Professor of Physics; Linda Phipps, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Marcia Stewart, Professor of Education; and Ben Hutchinson, Dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences. We look forward to meeting our colleagues and discovering how SSI 2007 can improve our institution as we move forward.