Tips on Partnering

Given the breadth of scientific and educational interests encompassed by the Biocomplexity in the Environment program, it is not reasonable to expect that any individual or group can fully meet the wide spectrum of opportunities and expectations that arise. Partnerships are essential. In many cases, really interesting advances occur at the interfaces of traditionally disparate disciplines, and the synergistic benefits are readily evident to all.

Partnerships may involve any number of stakeholders:

  • students,
  • teachers/faculty,
  • scientists (i.e. content specialists),
  • creators of educational resources,
  • journalists,
  • policy makers,
  • institutions (e.g. schools, colleges and universities; museums, aquariums, parks),
  • agencies (local, state and federal), and
  • professional societies.

All have something to offer and much to gain by entering into collaborative partnerships.

Partnerships may be aligned along many dimensions:

  • among scientific peers within and among the scientific disciplines,
  • to facilitate integration of research and education, for novice-expert (i.e. student-teacher) mentoring,
  • to meet local or regional needs,
  • to form a national consensus or develop resources for the public good.

Partnerships may be "live" (i.e. through direct, interpersonal contacts) or "virtual" (i.e. facilitated by digital communication networks).

Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Deputy Director of NSF, has laid out these characteristics for making a collaboration 'sing' (from Collaboration and the Value of Partnerships)

  • Trust among partners
  • A diversity of perspectives
  • Every partner brings something of value to the table
  • Every Partner has something to gain
  • Recruit the best people
  • All parties are present on the first day.

Grand challenges proposed by Bordogna are

  • Teach innovation
  • Reward collaboration
  • Ensure participation

Resources on Partnering

The following resources provide some background materials and examples of successful partnerships that may be of use in developing Education and Outreach activities in your Biocomplexity and the Environment Project.

Integrating Research and Education

  • Earth System Education Partnerships with Research Institutions ( this link may not work, it is for archival purposes)
    A Workshop Hosted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research Boulder, CO, January 29 - 31, 2001
    Workshop agenda, presentations and recommendations are available.
  • Bridging Multidimensional Geospatial Data Resources for Educators - Spring 2001 American Geophysical Union meeting
  • American Geophysical Union Fall 1999 meeting
    Earth Systems Science Education Partnerships: How Do K-16, Government, Industry, and Other Groups Work Together Successfully?
  • American Geophysical Union Fall 2000 meeting
    Building Bridges Between Research and Education to Enhance Learning About the Earth
  • American Geophysical Union Fall 2001 Meeting
    AGU Scientists' Roles and Partnerships in Support of K-14 Education and Public Outreach
  • Earth Research Partnerships Home ( This site may be offline. )
  • Partnerships in Paleontology: Involving Students and the Public in Collaborative Research. Symposium sponsored by the Paleontological Society, Geological Society of America 2001 Annual Meeting

Examples of Teacher and Student-Scientist Partnership programs


  • Project Kaleidoscope What Works: Building Natural Science Communities, A Plan for Strengthening Undergraduate Science and Mathematics
  • Brewer, C. A. 2002. Conservation Education Partnerships in Schoolyard laboratories: A Call Back to Action. Conservation Biology 16 (June issue)
  • Brewer, C. A. 2002. Outreach and partnership programs for conservation education where endangered species conservation and research occur. Conservation Biology 16:1-3.
  • Brewer, C.A. 2001. Cultivating conservation literacy: "trickle down" education is not enough. Conservation Biology 15:1203-1205.
  • Caton, E.C., Brewer C. A. , and F. Brown. 2000. Building teacher-scientist collaborations - teaching about energy through inquiry. (PDF file) School Science and Mathematics 100:7-15.
  • Ebert-May, D., C.A. Brewer and S. Allred. 1997. [link - Teaching for Active Learning.'] (PDF file) BioScience 47:601-607. IBS-CORE Progress Report, Carol Brewer
  • Sharing Science With Children - Linking Students with Scientists and Engineers. A Survival Guide for Teachers (from the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science)
  • Partners in Progress: The Role of Professional Societies in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education NSF93-64
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2001). Atlas of Scientific Literacy. Washington, DC.
  • Bransford, J., Brown, A., and Cocking, R., (1999) How People Learn. Washington, DC: National Academy Press
  • Loucks-Horsley, S., Hewson, P. W., Love, N., and Stiles, K.A. (1998). Designing Professional Development for Teachers of Science and Mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
  • National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Novak, J. & Gowin, J.B. Learning How to Learn. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • From the National Academy Press
    • Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium (2000, 232 pp.) Committee on Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation, National Research Council
    • Capitalizing on New Needs and New Opportunities: Government —Industry Partnerships in Biotechnology and Information Technologies (2001, 360 pp.) Charles W. Wessner, Editor, Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, National Research Council
    • The Role of Scientists in the Professional Development of Science Teachers (1996, 256 pp.) Committee on Biology Teacher Inservice Programs, National Research Council Research Teams and Partnerships: Trends in the Chemical Sciences, Report of a Workshop (2000, 158 pp.) Chemical Sciences Roundtable, National Research Council
    • Review of EarthScope Integrated Science (2001, 76 pp.) Committee on the Review of EarthScope Science Objectives and Implementation Planning, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, National Research Council
    • Scientific Research in Education (2002, 204 pp.) Committee on Scientific Principles for Education Research, Richard J. Shavelson and Lisa Towne, Editors, National Research Council