TRAINING A NEW GENERATION OF SCIENCE LEADERS: THE INTEGRATED CONCENTRATION IN SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, AMHERST
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UNITED STATES)
How can we train the next generation of science and technology leaders to be able to solve the inherently multi-faceted problems facing society? In other words, how can we train scientists to be not too narrow in their fields, but also to have sufficient disciplinary grounding enhanced with the skills needed for cross-disciplinary problem solving? The Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst provides a compelling answer to this question: placing students from across the spectrum of STEM majors into diverse teams, and challenging them through a four-year program of case studies, lab work, and research to solve the pressing problems of our time.
The iCons curriculum consists of 20 credits, comprising one course in each of the first 3 years of a typical four-year undergraduate program, and a full-year capstone thesis project in the final year. Students are still required to fulfill all the requirements of their degree from their individual departments. In my talk I describe the relevant learning goals, assessment methods, and team-based learning activities that we have found most successful in training our iCons students. I also describe the essential elements that other programs may wish to adopt in their interdisciplinary science programs.