From The Plan For a New Century (submitted by the President to the Board of Trustees, and approved 4 March 2000):

"We also propose to create a limited number of "centers" to encourage innovation between and within existing departments and programs. The hallmark of these interrelated centers will be their flexibility, their ability to adapt to changing circumstances ... we need to create flexible ways to develop and maintain an innovative edge in the extra-curricular life of the College and in the curriculum itself. The proposed centers are designed to prompt ongoing change".

"The Center for Science in Society will catalyze and support explorations of the many ways in which people seek to understand the natural world and to use that understanding to support its continuing vitality as well as that of human society. The Center will investigate connections between scientific methods of inquiry and humanistic ones, and will bring together the academic and the applied. It will foster hands-on, exploratory and transdisciplinary approaches to teaching and research ... (and) facilitate the integration of academic learning with scientific understanding in workplace and policy settings. The Center will support existing ... programs and facilitate new collaborations among faculty, staff, and students from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities".

From Center for Science In Society: A Planning Document (submitted to the President, 30 November 2000)

  • To support innovative approaches to education in the sciences and in interdisciplinary areas, aimed at assuring both a high level of broad sophistication in students anticipating careers in the sciences, and a level of scientific literacy in all students which is adequate to assure that they are informed and active participants in a world increasingly affected by advances in scientific knowledge and technological development. Central to this objective is to further encourage the ongoing development of hands-on, exploratory, and transdisciplinary teaching approaches, both in science and across the curriculum.
  • To support novel intellectual collaborations, among scientists from different disciplines and between scientists and non-scientists, aimed at usefully bringing together different perspectives on issues and problems of practical importance, conceptual significance, and/or broad societal concern.
  • To support new projects aimed at bridging the gap between the academic and the applied as they bear on larger social issues.
  • To support an environment within which there is ongoing, meaningful, and productive inquiry into the reciprocal relationships between science/technology and broader human culture, and into the nature of human understanding itself.
  • To serve, for students/faculty/staff, as a source of continual encouragement and support for trying out new things, as a valuable counterbalance to the essential and itself valuable conservatism of academic disciplinary structures.
Organization, Plans, Needs
  • The Center will create a community wide forum by scheduling conferences, lectures, and colloquia related to Science in Society.
  • The Center will support a changing set of faculty/student/staff "working groups" around particular relevant topics. These may involve objectives which are primarily research, primarily educational, or both.
  • The Center could support activities related to a reconception of graduate education in the sciences.
  • The Center will maintain a program of fellowships, through which alumnae and other visitors, as well as College faculty/staff/students, can be supported for varying periods of time to undertake work based on their own interests which contributes to the objectives of the Center.
  • The Center will have a part time director drawn from the faculty, an inclusive steering committee made up of colleagues from a variety of disciplines, and sufficient staffing to provide administrative and clerical support.
  • The Center will have a physical location, including offices for visitors, a seminar room, and a laboratory space suitable for continuing inquiry into "hands-on, exploratory" education.
  • The Center will have a strong and continually evolving web presence.

Faculty Steering Committee

Peter Briggs (English), Maria Luisa Crawford (Geology), Alison Cook-Sather (Education Program), Anne Dalke (Feminist and Gender Studies), Kim Cassidy (Psychology), Victor Donnay (Mathematics), James Martin (Social Work and Social Research), Deepak Kumar (Computer Science), Elizabeth McCormack (Physics), George Weaver (Philosophy), Susan White (Chemistry)

Website design and graphics by Sharon Burgmayer (Chemistry) and Ann Dixon, webmaster.

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