Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to Elon College, the College of Arts & Sciences, will be matched by Elon University and used for a series of discussions, workshops and analysis to deepen diversity, equity and inclusion in teaching of sciences, math, technology and engineering.
Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of a $20,000 Faculty Forums grant by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to be used to deepen dialogue and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM education in the College of Arts & Sciences.
The forums will focus on student belonging and success, with faculty working together to increase inclusive pedagogies and best practices within science, technology, math and engineering courses.
HHMI announced the grant award this month. Elon will match that amount for a total of $40,000 to fund a College of Arts and Sciences’ initiative to engage faculty in conversation and reflection surrounding faculty and student identities, educational best practices, and how those affect students’ well-being and outcomes.
“This is about doing the best job we can for students,” said Amy Overman, assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the grant’s project director. “We know that students come from different backgrounds. Through the activities that the Faculty Forums grant supports, we hope to increase the number of faculty who are reflecting on, discussing, and implementing inclusive teaching practices in Elon’s STEM classes so that we can better support our students’ learning and success.”
The HHMI grant aids work already being done by Elon’s faculty. In 2018-19, more than 30 percent of science, math and technology faculty participated in inclusive teaching workshops and grant opportunities.
“Our faculty are strong supporters of inclusive pedagogies and are enthusiastic to learn even more about how to enhance their teaching,” Overman said.
Representatives across departments are leading the Faculty Forums initiative and will act as liaisons, sharing newfound knowledge and insights with faculty in their departments. Through the grant, faculty will participate in conferences, inclusive teaching workshops, discussions, a weeklong pedagogical institute, and targeted surveys. Those events will continue through December 2020.
Activities involved with the Faculty Forums began this semester, even before the grant funding was secured. Not only are advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and STEM education among Elon University’s and the College’s institutional priorities, but faculty are eager to engage with students in enriching and meaningful ways, said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Gabie Smith.
“Our faculty are here because they want to work closely with undergraduate students. There is always excitement about any opportunity to celebrate success with students,” Smith said.
In November, a team of faculty members will attend the Project Kaleidoscope and Association of American Colleges and University’s Transforming STEM Higher Education Conference in Chicago.
In addition to dedicated faculty liaisons within departments, members of Elon’s Center of Access & Success, Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity Education, and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning will bring expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forums. This will mark the first time those centers have all worked together in a shared effort on campus.
“We plan to share what we’ve done and what we’ve learned as a result of this grant with colleagues on our own campus and beyond,” Overman said. “Elon is already recognized by other institutions as a model of high-quality teaching. Being awarded this grant by HHMI to expand inclusive pedagogies in STEM demonstrates the College of Arts and Sciences’ essential role in preparing 21st-century leaders and supporting Elon’s commitment to providing a premier student-centered learning environment.”
The HHMI is a science philanthropy with a mission to advance basic biomedical research and science education. It provides educational resources, supplies grant funding, and establishes partnerships with educational institutions across the U.S.