Sustainability Improves Student Learning in STEM (SISL in STEM)

Project Kaleidoscope, Mobilizing STEM Education for a Sustainable Future, and the Disciplinary Associations Network for Sustainability (DANS) are joining expertise on behalf of students to:

  1. increase their learning in undergraduate STEM courses, and
  2. better prepare them for the real-world 21st century "Big Questions" that relate to real-world issues such as energy, air and water quality, and climate change.

Big Questions, as defined in the Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative of the AAC&U, are those of value, fundamental, and enduring, that have "vexed human beings down through the ages." Big Questions directly connect to sustainability, how we live our lives, the choices we make, and our obligations to other people and to the natural world. We are promoting undergraduate STEM courses that: 1) provide more knowledge about real-world issues (e.g. energy, water, air quality, climate change); 2) connect these real-world issues to the concepts of sustainability; 3) offer students opportunities to analyze and implement choices that can help solve societal problems so they are better able to act on their choices both immediately and as future citizens and professionals.

To accomplish this work, we will engage, support, and connect with a select group of disciplinary societies in strategic ways that leverage their membership, programs and influence.

A convocation at the National Academy of Sciences was held on September 19 & 20, 2013 to widen the circle of involved societies beyond STEM and to plan for the long-term continuation of this work.

Initial Society Partners

Over 50 members of these partner societies have formed 6 project teams focusing on the following topics:

Project Support

This project is supported by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.

Project Contacts

Project Advisors

  • David E. Blockstein, Senior Scientist, National Council for Science and the Environment
  • Myles Boylan, Program Director in Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation
  • Nat Frazer, Faculty, Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University
  • Mel George,  President Emeritus, University of Missouri
  • Kevin Hovland, Director of Global Learning and Curricular Change, Association of American Colleges and Universities
  • Jay Labov, Senior Advisor for Education and Communication,  National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council
  • Judith Ramaley, President, Winona State University

Click here for advisor biographies.

Project Partners

Program Goals

By the end of this project, we (in conjunction with our partner societies), will develop clear mechanisms by which disciplinary societies more broadly can:

  1. Increase visibility to members of participating societies of sustainability as an important issue for undergraduate STEM faculty to infuse into introductory STEM courses.
  2. Improve access of members of participating societies to STEM education reform practices that increase student learning related to the Big Questions that our students will deal with as citizens, voters, teachers, and/or STEM professionals.
  3. Promote the uptake of instructional strategies involving real-world issues by members of participating societies, including the adoption and adaptation of new or refined curricular materials and teaching approaches that focus on real world issues and Big Questions as they relate to sustainability.
  4. Collaborate across participating societies on the activities that they advance, promote, and encourage; and, in the process, learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t through project meetings.
  5. Connect and sustain the efforts of participating societies in pursuing common efforts and leading the way for others to join these efforts.