For Immediate Release

David Tritelli
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
202-884-0812 (office)

AAC&U Selects 13 Scholars To Guide Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) Initiative

Competitively Selected STIRS Scholars to Develop Case Studies to Teach Evidence-Based Reasoning Skills

Feb 11, 2014

Washington, DC—AAC&U’s Scientific Thinking and Integrative Reasoning Skills (STIRS) Initiative was launched in 2012 to develop the tools to improve the capacity of undergraduate students to use evidence to solve problems and make decisions. Such capacities are foundational to liberal education and are critical for all students in all areas of study—including the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

In the first phase of the Initiative, AAC&U has named thirteen STIRS Scholars—competitively chosen to provide leadership to this emerging community of practice. The STIRS Scholars will develop STIRS case studies and draw national attention to evidence-based reasoning and decision-making as critical, multifaceted, cross-cutting capacities to be practiced by all undergraduate students in all degree programs. The Scholars will meet together at AAC&U’s Network for Academic Renewal Conference on General Education and Assessment in Portland, Oregon in late February/early March, 2014.

“As higher education continues to explore the power of problem-centered learning and proficiency-based curricular designs, we need to be sure that we are building in opportunities for students to develop and practice the foundational skills they will need, “ said Kevin Hovland, AAC&U’s senior director for global learning and curricular change. “It is easy to say that today’s students need to engage in solving complex, trans-disciplinary, global problems; it is impossible to imagine that they will succeed in such a task without repeated practice in evidence-based problem solving, analysis of study design, data and statistical reasoning, and ethical decision making. STIRS will work with faculty members across the country to design and test learning experiences to develop such skills.”

The STIRS Initiative is designed to develop and disseminate case studies, course modules, sample first-year seminars, integrative learning assignments, and other curricular models that integrate evidence-based thinking across general education and undergraduate majors. These resources will be developed and tested at all types of institutions, peer reviewed, and disseminated nationally. The STIRS Initiative is led by Kevin Hovland, senior director for global learning and curricular change at AAC&U. The Initiative’s advisors include Richard K. Riegelman, professor and founding dean, School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University and Katherine Hunting, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University and AAC&U Senior Fellow.

“Philanthropic support for this initiative has come from a group of creative, far-sighted private donors,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “AAC&U is proud to be part of this important work, and we are very grateful to those who helped bring the initial vision to fruition.”

STIRS Scholars Include:

Justin Armstrong, Visiting Lecturer, Writing Program (Anthropology)
Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)

Karen Singer-Freeman, Associate Professor of Psychology
Purchase College, SUNY (Purchase, NY )

Angela Bauer, Professor and Chair of Biology
High Point University (High Point, NC)

Vandana Singh, Assistant Professor of Physics
Framingham State University (Framingham, MA)

Lynn Burley, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Department of Writing
University of Central Arkansas (Conway, AR)

Jennifer Stanford, Assistant Professor of Biology
Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

Loren B. Byrne, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science
Coordinator, Sustainability Studies Program
Roger Williams University (Bristol, Rhode Island)

Katie B. Wilson, Instructor, Social Sciences
Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, CUNY (New York, NY)

Tami S. Carmichael, Director and Associate Professor, Humanities and Integrated Studies
University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)

Adele J. Wolfson, Professor of Chemistry
Wellesley College (Wellesley, MA)

Jill Manske, Professor of Biology
University of Saint Thomas (Saint Paul, MN)

Ryan Zerr, Professor and Associate Chair, Mathematics
University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND)

Sal Meyers, Professor of Psychology
Simpson College (Indianola, IA)


More information is available online about the STIRS Initiative, including specific information about the topics on which the Scholars will be developing case studies.