The PULSE Ambassador Program, launched by a working group of PULSE Fellows (Spreading the PULSE - StP) with advice from the PULSE community, is currently funded by the National Science Foundation (Award #EF-1355771). It is being developed as an aid to departments seeking a trajectory of V&C implementation. The program seeks to help local change agents by training teams of V&C Ambassadors that will visit institutions to help facilitate conversations about V&C, provide advice, guidance, and resources to advance a department’s V&C-based goals. Subsequently, the Ambassadors will submit a written report and then be available to the department for regular follow-ups by phone or videoconference, with at least one return visit to campus about a year after the initial visit. The program resembles the highly successful Keck-PKAL visitation program (1994-2006), but our goal is to focus on department-level change and rigorous assessment of the impact of Ambassador visits. The program, due to the necessity of developing Ambassador training materials in collaboration with organizational change experts, will begin on a small-scale (see figure, below). We anticipate a large scale-up effort in 2014-2015. StP presented a poster at Vision and Change in Biology Undergraduate Education: Chronicling Change, Inspiring the Future, The AAAS National Conference on Vision and Change (August 28-30, 2013). The abstract can be found below. A link to the full poster is available. You are welcome to join the Ambassador Group on this website to participate in discussions relating to this effort. If you are interested in hosting a PULSE Ambassador team visit to your campus, please fill out the Ambassador Visit Inquiry form below.
Spreading the PULSE (StP): Ambassadors and Toolkits to Catalyze Change (poster)*
Abstract: Adoption of the recommendations of Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action will require changes to how the life sciences are taught, how academic departments and institutions support faculty, and how curricular decisions are made. To promote these changes, HHMI, NIH, and NSF created the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE) and identified 40 Leadership Fellows to develop strategies to support adoption of the recommendations in the Vision and Change (V&C) report. While there are many barriers to adoption of the V&C recommendations, a hypothesis of the Leadership Fellows is that even when departments have the will and means to change, they may need information, personal guidance, and support from life scientists who have experience with making the curricular changes recommended by V&C.
Therefore one of the Fellows working groups (designated Spreading the PULSE or StP) has devised a program to recruit, train, and organize a group of facilitators, called V&C Ambassadors, to assist departments in instituting curricular change. We are seeking funds to recruit individuals with the interest, experience, and interpersonal skills to be effective Ambassadors and to create a multiday workshop program to train Ambassadors in the tools and resources available to support the recommendations of V&C and in the approaches necessary to promote and sustain departmental change. In support of this initiative, we have been gathering a collection of resources, including an Online Toolkit that Ambassadors and departments can use in promoting V&C.
Departments that identify themselves as interested in V&C reform (or having begun the process, that wish to move further towards institutionalizing it) will complete a self-assessment of their activities to date, where they have achieved successes, and what barriers they may have encountered (see the Taking the PULSE poster*). These departments will be partnered with a team of two or three Ambassadors who have expertise in strategic planning and promoting such reform. The Ambassador team will visit campus to meet with faculty, administrators and students to assess the departmental culture and to provide advice, guidance, and resources to advance the department’s goals. Subsequently the Ambassadors will submit a written report and then be available to the department for regular follow-ups by phone or videoconference, with at least one return visit to campus about a year after the initial visit.
Curricular change is not only an intellectual but a social endeavor; we believe that departments are more likely to change if they have the guidance and encouragement of colleagues they respect and ready access to the resources they need. By recruiting, training, and vetting such Ambassadors, and developing the PULSE V&C Toolkit and website, we will provide a support network effective in helping departments embrace Vision & Change.
* Posters presented at the Vision and Change in Biology Undergraduate Education: Chronicling Change, Inspiring the Future, The AAAS National Conference on Vision and Change, Washington D.C., July 28-30, 2013.