transformative research n.
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  1. TRANSFORMATIVE RESEARCH Diane W. Husic Past-President, CUR Professor of Biological Sciences Moravian College Moses N.F. Lee Professor and Dean of Natural Sciences Hope College Silvia Ronco Program Officer Research Corporation for Science Advancement Working with Undergraduates to Chart New Research Paradigms

  2. Why a discussion on Transformative Research? “The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by a growing awareness of the fragile state of our economy, environment, public health and national security—all areas highly dependent on research and technology. Over the same period we have witnessed a degree of national anxiety regarding the strength of our country’s research enterprise, which underpins our ability to innovate and provide leadership in all those areas.” Art Ellis, Vice Chancellor for Research In the Preface of the CUR Monograph Transformative Research at Predominately Undergraduate Institutions (2010) Karukstis, K.K. and Hensel, N., eds.

  3. Overview • The value of undergraduate research • The changing nature of research • The impetus for the 2009 CUR Summit on Transformative Research • Key questions and findings • Examples and case studies • Funding transformative research (why and how) • Discussion: • Supporting transformative research on your campuses • An analysis of the environment for/status of TR on your campuses • Questions

  4. The Value of Undergraduate Research For students For faculty For departments and campuses For the larger community Transforming minds, campuses and communities

  5. Value of Undergraduate Research for Students • High impact practice for student engagement & learning “Many of the benefits of undergraduate research are aligned with three of the essential learning outcomes espoused by AAC&U’s LEAP campaign—intellectual and practical skills, personal and social responsibility, and integrative and applied learning. It is these kinds of experiences that have the potential to transform the way students perceive and understand what they are learning and how it is applied in authentic, real-world situations.” Elrod, S., Husic, D., and Kinzie, J. (2010) “Research and Discovery Across the Curriulum”, Peer Review 12: 4-8.

  6. Value of Undergraduate Research for Faculty • Faculty vitality “ Undergraduate research is beneficial to faculty. The fresh perspectives and questions from students can be productively challenging, and the research can provide a bridge between the two poles of publication and teaching. When working with undergraduates on research, there’s no boundary between teaching and scientific exploration.” Gentile, J.M. (2010) “Science Education: The Value of Undergraduate Research” (March 8, 2010 op-ed) “Faculty will achieve most when their teaching has lively connections with their role as expert scholars…” American Council of Learned Societies (2007) “Student Learning and Faculty Research: Connecting Teaching and Scholarship. A Teagle Foundation White Paper

  7. The Value of Undergraduate Research For students For faculty For departments and campuses For the larger community Transforming minds, campuses and communities

  8. Value of Undergraduate Research for the Larger Community • Public good “ Higher education is a public good—the teacher of youth, a creator of citizens, a birthplace of new ideas, discoveries, and creations, and an indispensable partner in the search for answers to society’s most critical issues. It preserves the past and nurtures the future.” Nancy Cantor, Chancellor and President, Syracuse University 2007 address to the campus on the “Expansive Mission of Higher Education”

  9. The Changing Nature of Research Use-inspired Addressing social concerns, national needs and/or global challenges The quest for innovation New research approaches and complex questions National competitiveness Interdisciplinary, collaborative teams The impact of information technology Massive databases/data mining Online access to primary literature Continental scale projects Global collaborations through social networking

  10. The Changing Environment for Research Increasing proposal pressure/Decreasing funds for research Increasing skepticism about science Science illiteracy and public skepticism Questionable links between science and industry Tough economic times What should be the funding priorities for higher ed? National calls for faculty to focus on teaching rather than research Decreasing competitiveness of the U.S. in education, science, and technology

  11. Background – Why a summit on TR? • 2005 National Academies Report: “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future” • 2007 America COMPETES Act • NSF Director, Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Speech (January 2007): “Transformative Research: The Artistry and Alchemy of the 21st Century" Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science Fourth Annual Conference, Austin, TX • 2007 National Science Board Report:“Enhancing Support of Transformative Research at the National Science Foundation” -- Called for enhanced support of TR at the NSF

  12. AAC&U’s LEAP Initiative “Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) is an initiative that champions the value of a liberal education—for individual students and for a nation dependent on economic creativity and democratic vitality.”

  13. NSB & NSF Definition of TR Transformative research is defined asresearch driven by ideas that have the potential toradically change our understandingof an important existing scientific or engineering concept or leading to the creation of a new paradigm or fieldof science or engineering. Such research is also characterized by itschallenge to current understanding or its pathway to new frontiers.

  14. What is transformative research? “Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Albert Einstein) Keywords usually related with transformative research: Highly innovative High risk/high reward Creative Pioneering Collaborative Interdisciplinary Early Career Faculty

  15. The importance of funding young scientists “Scientific revolutions are often led by the youngest scientists ….Youth and creativity have long been interwoven; as Samuel Johnson once said, ‘Youth is the time of enterprise and hope.’ Unburdened by old habits and prejudices, a mind in fresh bloom is poised to see the world anew and come up with fresh innovations—solutions to problems that have sometimes eluded others for ages.” – Jonah Lehrer, Wall St. Journal 2/19/10

  16. Background – Why a summit on TR? • Declines in funding rates with increased proposal pressure • Revision of NSF Intellectual Merit criteria for grant proposals “To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?”

  17. Background – Why a summit on TR? • Concerns within PUI community: • Addition of words “potentially transformative” to intellectual merit criteria for NSF proposals didn’t involve input from the PUI community • Would this additional criterion reduce the ability of PUIs to secure research funding? • Not solely a PUI issue, but may disproportionally impact schools where the research infrastructure and rate of research progress can be quite different from that at R1 institutions. • Growing gap between research and teaching resources • Growing knowledge gap between “experts” (researchers) and the public --

  18. CUR proposes a summit to discuss TR and PUIs • NSF grant • Additional support from • Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement • Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society • Participants: • 28 faculty, administrators, foundations, individuals with program officer experience, and CUR leadership • 9 disciplines represented • Congressional Briefing • Monograph on TR (see )

  19. Key Questions Discussed at the Summit Can TR be done at undergraduate institutions/with undergraduates? What are the challenges and opportunities? Should undergraduates and undergraduate institutions be involved in TR? Why should funding agencies support TR? Are there examples of TR being done at UG institutions/with UGs? How can we promote/support TR at PUIs?

  20. Challenges to doing transformative research @ undergraduate institutions/with undergraduate students • Time to think, mentor, innovate • Research often moves at a slower pace – for a variety of reasons • Faculty are often “isolated” ...the only expert in subject “X” on campus • Resources; state-of-the art equipment

  21. BUT… • Faculty at PUIs may have more flexibility • to work on higher risk projects • to work across disciplines • aren’t necessarily responsible for graduate • students or post-docs • AND • UG students don’t know what they aren’t • supposed to know (vs. Narrowly trained • Ph.D.s!) • Cheaper than research at R1s

  22. CUR Summit Findings • There was universal agreement among summit participants that a goal of faculty members at PUIs is to conduct high-quality, original research. • Emphasis on transformative research supports this expectation.

  23. CUR Summit Findings • There was agreement among summit participants that while teaching is of primary importance at PUIs, research can be a synergistic element to teaching. • Research can inform teaching; • Discussions of faculty research and the grand challenges in class can be engaging and intellectually stimulating for faculty and students; • Experiential learning (through participation in research) can be transformative for students; • An emphasis on TR can also be transformative for the science curricula • Which, in turn, can help to attract the best and brightest students and prepare them to approach the complex problems facing the world.

  24. From the Teagle Foundation White Paper (2007):Student Learning and Faculty Research: Connecting Teaching and Scholarship “Students who work with teacher-scholars who are directly engaged in debates about their fields can be confident that they are learning from people who have the most up-to-date understanding of the relevant material and debates in those fields; from people who know the future, as well as the past, of their disciplines; and from people whose own professional activities communicate the lesson that knowledge is not a static commodity but rather is achieved through a continuing process of testing and revision.”

  25. Transformative Research at PUIs: Why? • Better prepares PUI graduates to succeed in science careers • Engages PUI teacher-scholars in cutting-edge research • Minimizes geographic and scientific isolation • Helps PUI faculty to think creatively and outside the box • Takes advantage of the PUI research environment, usually more flexible and “forgiving” than at research universities • Challenges institutions to move to “the next level”

  26. Case Studies – Transformative Research at PUIs and with Undergraduate Students

  27. Why Should TR be Funded? • Innovation and global competiveness • Economic benefits • Grand challenges and big questions – real world needs • Incentives to move forward the frontiers of science…

  28. Why do foundations advocate for transformative research? To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense....National Science Foundation, Mission Statement • Complex scientific problems of societal relevance need transformative practices and approaches • To better prepare a well-educated workforce • It fits their mission • Founders like to challenge researchers and institutions!

  29. Examples of Transformative Research Programs • NIH Pioneer Awards are designed to support individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering – and possibly transforming approaches – to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research. • The term “pioneering” is used to describe highly innovative approaches that have the potential to produce an unusually high impact. • Investigators at all career levels are eligible, and those at early to middle stages of their careers and women and members of groups underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research are especially encouraged to apply.

  30. Examples of Transformative Research Programs EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) • The EAGER funding mechanism may be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work may be considered especially "high risk-high payoff" in the sense that it, for example, involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.

  31. Examples of Transformative Research Programs Scialog® • Scialog® seeks to accelerate the work of 21st-century transformational science through funding highly innovative research, intensive dialog and community building. • The new direction in which RCSA is going with Scialog is intended to support early career faculty to expand research in a specifically focused area determined to be urgently important for the nation's welfare.

  32. Analysis of TR potential on campus environments – Discussion

  33. Transformative Research at PUIs: How? • Reward innovative thinking but be prepared for failure • Encourage non-judgmental brainstorming activities aimed at facilitating creative thinking • Adapt tenure and promotion guidelines to encourage innovation and interdisciplinary work • Non-traditional scholarly products • Foster the best possible teacher-scholars • Professional development opportunities • Minimize departmental boundaries • Group faculty according research areas rather than departmental affiliation • Design the right spaces for collaboration and interdisciplinary work

  34. Transformative Research at PUIs: How? • Build interdisciplinary capacity/Promote and encourage collaborative work • Strategic faculty hires who bring new capabilities and areas of research expertise • Develop a cohesive departmental vision and bring faculty to the same page • Integrate research throughout the curriculum • Develop a culture of grant writing • Promote leadership and mentoring • Create an entrepreneurial spirit

  35. Transformative Research at PUIs: How? • Get to know your neighboring institutions • Bring regional PUI researchers together to encourage collaborations and exchange of ideas • Administrative support • Including department leadership • Intellectual property policies • A scholarly culture with flexibility • Non-traditional sources of funding • Recognition of non-traditional partnerships and scholarly products • Appropriate workloads

  36. How to promote TR at PUIs • Administrative support • Department leadership and support • Intellectual Policy policies • A scholarly culture – with flexibility • Non traditional scholarly products • Tenure and review policies • Non traditional sources of funding • An entrepreneurial spirit • Appropriate workloads

  37. Questions?

  38. “We live in a moment of radical change...In order for change to be positive—to be transformative—we must be intentional, grounding our work in our visions for better lives and a better society. We must challenge what others take for granted, look at our work in new ways and consider the future possibilities of our work. The practice of undergraduate research opens transformative possibilities: Possibilities of knowledge and of action, possibilities for students to learn the power of their own thinking, possibilities of futures that would otherwise not have been open to us.” Description for the 2010 CUR National Conference on “Undergraduate Research As Transformative Practice: Developing Leaders and Solutions for a Better Society.

  39. Acknowledgements • The National Science Foundation • Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement • Petroleum Research Fund of the ACS • The CUR National Office • Summit participants and monograph authors