Excellence: A Critical Examination of Accountability

Today, the demand for global competitiveness in undergraduate science education is situated within a shifting sociopolitical context that is increasingly made complex by the troubling history of race relations in America. This contemporary reality requires that we boldly embrace a more dynamic conceptualization of excellence in undergraduate science education—one that advances innovation and rightfully positions inclusion as its necessary precondition. This shift must begin with a set of standards, or agreements, that releases us from the conventional workaround approaches that we have become so accustomed to. Collectively, our Agreements for Excellence point toward far more daring shifts in institutional change strategies that can design, create, and support a new institutional stance for undergraduate science education—predisposing and positioning it, and the STEM faculty within it, to hold themselves accountable for desiring, fostering, recognizing, and requiring the actions and outcomes that are quintessential for inclusion and indistinguishable from excellence.

This webinar will outline the most recent work of the AAC&U Inclusive Excellence Commission—the evaluative partner of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence Initiative. Members of the commission will present their Agreements for Excellence in undergraduate science education, as well as critically examine the most salient challenges limiting higher education’s capacity to cultivate and harness scientific creativity from the widest possible range of perspectives, worldviews, and disciplinary expertise. Webinar attendees can expect to be actively engaged not only in the iterative work of understanding the Agreements for Excellence, but also in critically examining and critiquing their suitability and overall utility in reforming undergraduate science education at all institutional types. Members of the commission will also share their insights and perspectives on the impact of the HHMI Inclusive Excellence Initiative on national undergraduate STEM reform.



  • John Matsui

    Director, Biology Scholars Program & Assistant Dean, Biological Sciences University of California, Berkeley

  • Patrice McDermott

    Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs University of Maryland, Baltimore County

  • Kate Winter

    Independent Evaluation Consultant