Lawrence University received a $1 million grant to help implement a new science program.
The Appleton university was one of 33 nationwide to receive a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The money will help the university implement its Inclusive Excellence Initiative, a program aimed at engaging science students of all backgrounds and identities.
Stefan Debbert, a Lawrence chemistry professor, will direct the new initiative, which is designed to significantly change the way Lawrence teaches many of its introductory natural science courses.
The program targets underrepresented minority, first-generation and low-income students. Recent efforts on Lawrence’s part have significantly increased the number of these students, leading to a re-examination of how its policies and resources support them.
The grant will be allocated over five years, and Lawrence’s first step in the initiative will be transforming a large, tiered lecture hall in Youngchild Hall into a “science commons” with small group tables and built-in technology so students can share work with each other more easily.
Over the next five years, Lawrence will add visiting faculty members who specialize in modern science pedagogy for two-year appointments. These positions will be created in the biology, chemistry and physics departments.
“The commitment to inclusion is a signal feature of a Lawrence education,” Catherine Gunther Kodat, provost and dean of the faculty, said in a release. “Last year, our efforts to more fully incorporate inclusive pedagogies in the humanities received a great boost through funding from the Mellon Foundation. This new grant makes it possible for us to deepen and expand this commitment into our instruction in the sciences, as well. HHMI is one of the nation’s most prestigious science philanthropies. Their support of our program is a tremendous vote of confidence in the skill, dedication, and passion of our faculty.”