English: Logo of the National Science Foundation (NSF). For NSF logo information visit: http://www.nsf.gov/policies/logos.jsp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Division of Graduate Education at the National Science Foundation challenges STEM graduate students across the nation to submit innovative ideas to prepare them for tomorrow's opportunities and challenges. Entries are solicited for ideas with the potential to improve graduate education and professional development. Ideas can be directed toward, for example, students, faculty, departments, institutions, professional societies, and/or federal agencies. Make your voice heard on STEM graduate education! (source)Entries were due on April 15, so why am I mentioning this now? Because NSF announced the winners on Thursday. You can see a list of the winners and read their winning proposal at http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/gradchallenge/winners.html.
Since I'm Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School, I'm going to be studying these proposals carefully to see what ideas we might be able to adopt here. All of the ideas are great, but some of them are national-scale efforts that I'd be happy to be part of (or lead) from the University of Connecticut. It's just that we can't do them alone.
Here are the ones that have caught my eye that we might be able to do something about:
- Retaining Women in STEM Careers: Graduate Students as the Building Blocks of Change
- Communicating Science to the Public: A New Graduate Course and Practicum
- Beyond the Academy: Enhancing STEM Education through External Graduate Assistantships
- Creating a Cooperative Environment for Graduate Studies and Career Preparation
- RELATE: Researchers Expanding Lay-Audience Teaching and Engagement
Obviously, we can't do all of these. But with NextGenerationCT coming on line, it's a perfect time for us to think expansively and creatively about graduate education, and you can bet I'll be doing it.1
If you have ideas or suggestions about which of these projects would be most useful to UConn graduate students, please leave a comment -- especially if you're a UConn gradute student. I'd love to hear from you.
1And I won't be doing it alone. UConn is in the midst of developing a new academic plan, and as part of that effort, I'm working with a small group of faculty to develop The Graduate School's academic plan. I'll share these ideas with the group the next time we get together.