June 2012

Vision and Change Leadership Fellows Program accepting applications

Read J. Ellis Bell’s commentary in ASBMB Today on the 2011 Vision and Change report: “Changing the way we focus on student-centered gains in understanding.”

The Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education, known as PULSE, is now accepting applications for its Vision and Change Leadership Fellows Program. PULSE officials hope this group of experienced faculty members will lead a national effort in transforming the way undergraduate students are taught life sciences.

Over the past decade, there has been increasing pressure from students and postsecondary educational institutions to modernize college biology education to reflect more accurately how students in the 21st century learn. Previous efforts, PULSE leaders emphasize, have focused on improving individual faculty members’ teaching methods, resulting in centers of excellence but no national, systemic change.

PULSE, a collaborative effort between the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with support from the company Knowinnovation and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, aims to stimulate change from the ground up by engaging faculty members at the departmental, divisional and institutional levels to transform how students are exposed to the life sciences.

What is Vision and Change?

In 2006, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with support from the NSF, initiated a multiyear dialogue with the scientific community about science education in the 21st century. In 2007, seven events brought together educators, administrators and other stakeholders, and in 2009 a conference was held in Washington, D.C., and focus groups were assembled.

The resulting report, “Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action,” released in 2011, identified the need for systemic changes in undergraduate life sciences education as a national priority. The report highlighted the need to modernize how biology is taught, how faculty members are supported and how curricular decisions are made.

“There is now broad consensus about the change that is needed,” HHMI’s Cynthia Bauerle said in a statement. The way biology is taught needs to “spark students’ interest in science and prepare them for the challenging scientific problems we face in the 21st century.” All students, regardless of major, need to develop at least a basic understanding of the nature and practice of science to make informed decisions about their health, lifestyles and environment in our increasingly science- and technology-based society.

About the fellowship

Forty Vision and Change fellows, representing diverse educational institutions and professional backgrounds, will be chosen to serve for a year and develop a national strategy for implementation of biology education reform.

Application guidelines and additional information on the fellowships are available at www.pulsecommunity.org. The application deadline is July 9.


Melinda T. HoughMelinda T. Hough (melinda.hough@hotmail.com) is a freelance science communicator and advocate based in the Pacific Northwest. She covers microbiology and molecular biology as well as science policy and diplomacy.

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