Using Societal Issues to Attract and Engage STEM Students in the Classroom

This workshop is part of the 2018 annual IINSPIRE LSAMP Alliance conference in Coralville, Iowa on February 2-3, 2018
Please go to the conference website for registration information .


Jim Swartz Grinnell College, Cailin Huyck Orr SERC at Carleton College

Workshop Program

Workshop Overview:

Societal issues are a powerful way to engage students in STEM and transcend disciplinary boundaries. Regardless of their major, teaching about topics such as energy, food, water, and hazards, are applicable to what students learn in the classroom across the curriculum and may apply to their personal life and/or what they see in the news. Further, there is an increasing need for not only STEM literacy, but also an interdisciplinary approach to addressing the complex issues facing society such as environmental justice, sustainability, and environmental ethics. Real-world issues can engage and energize students and offer an opportunity to go out into the community to apply classroom knowledge and perform hands-on work. Engaged, student-centered pedagogy using societal issues can motivate students to take action in their community through the use of community partnerships, place-based approaches, research projects.

This workshop for faculty members will use resources from the IINSPIRE Alliance community and the InTeGrate STEM Talent Expansion Program Center to highlight how issues of interest to students might be brought into the STEM classroom. Topics will include high impact pedagogical approaches, service learning, and engaging community partners. We will provide opportunity for participants to share and discuss their own approaches and consider how they can overcome barriers. Participants will leave the session with a personal action plan for next steps.


Contact Jim Swartz ( or Cailin Huyck Orr ( with any questions.

      Next Page »