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A New Strategy to Build Capacity for Creativity

by David Asai, Senior Director for Science Education

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

There was a time when most people who attended college were single white men, had high school diplomas, started college at age 18, graduated in 4 years, had all the academic preparation needed to succeed, and had few family responsibilities. In the 21st century, this is not true. Today, students come from diverse backgrounds, have widely divergent levels of preparation, may be returning to college after years in the workforce or serving the U.S. military, and often are employed while in college to support themselves and families. Higher education needs to acknowledge these differences among students and work to accommodate them by creating more entry points and pathways to STEM degrees. Engage to Excel

The Opportunity and Challenge of Diversity

Achieving science excellence depends on our ability to engage a diverse community of scientists that discovers creative solutions to difficult problems.3 Thus, the “new majority” of students presents an enormous opportunity as well as an existential challenge.  If we can capture the talent and energy of this dynamic diversity, science gets better. If we fail, then science has no future. The undergraduate years are critical because they are when students begin to develop scientific thinking skills in an organized fashion.4

The recognition that diversity is important is not a new insight. Many interventions — including, for example, apprentice-based research experiences, summer bridge programs for incoming freshmen, and student learning communities that provide peer-led tutoring — have been designed and deployed to increase participation of students from groups underrepresented in science. 

Read full essay>>> A New Strategy to Build Capacity for Creativity

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