Being Human in STEM Network National Conference

Sheila Jaswal
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Amherst College

Need: The Being Human in STEM national conference was organized in support of the national need for increased student success in undergraduate STEM education. HSTEM began at Amherst College in 2016 in response to student calls for greater inclusion and sense of belonging in their academic experiences. Students at the participating institutions, especially students from underrepresented groups, have described the many challenges they face as they pursue a pathway in STEM. In response, the institutions adopted and refined the HSTEM model for inclusive STEM curriculum. The HSTEM course incorporates inclusion and diversity research alongside literature from sociology, education and psychology fields, culminating student-led projects focused on improving STEM education and climate. HSTEM teams investigate the experiences of diverse students in STEM courses and labs, seeking to understand challenges and best practices on their own campus and in other educational environments. HSTEM courses and pedagogical practices enable conversations about diversity and inclusion across traditional boundaries. Students become co-creators of knowledge alongside their instructors and institutional changes can be aligned with student needs and experiences. The (postponed) virtual HSTEM conference brought together for the first time HSTEM facilitators and students from Amherst, Williams, Davidson, Mt. Holyoke, Skidmore and Macalester colleges, Yale and Depauw Universities, and the Universities of Rhode Island and Utah. Guiding Question: The conference aimed to understand the shared and unique features of HSTEM course models across the range of partner campuses, and the impact of the HSTEM course on STEM education at the individual and institutional level. The sessions were grouped according to three themes: I. Gallery Walk Celebration of the HSTEM National Network, II. Institutional Practices, Individual Experiences, and Overall Impact of HSTEM, and III. Visioning & Strategizing to Strengthen the HSTEM Network.Outcomes: The nine virtual sessions between June 10-12, 2021 were attended by 70 participants from nearly twenty institutions. Panels of student and faculty HSTEM partners identified key core components of the HSTEM course, and a range of course features that have evolved differently based on the local campus environments. In addition, attendees identified specific ways that student projects from the course and student and faculty participation in the course have influenced pedagogy, community, policies and student success and experience in their local STEM communities. Members of the advisory board (Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta, Dr. Bryan Dewsbury, and Dr. Becky Wei-Ling Packard) offered suggestions on how to assess, sustain and improve the HSTEM national network.Broader Impacts: With the relationships formed between individuals, connections made between institutions, and information and resources gathered, the conference has provided the foundation for HSTEM institutional partners in the network to prepare a collaborative submission to the Institutional and Community Transformation track. This effort will allow us to increase access to HSTEM resources by establishing systems and tools for national dissemination and a publicly available online repository, design plans to evaluate HSTEM impacts on students and faculty across institutions, create stronger support for community colleges and public institutions to adopt HSTEM, and support HSTEM sustainability at institutions across the growing HSTEM national network.


Sarah Bunnell, Amherst College; Megan Lyster, Smith College, Northampton, MA; Ji Chung, Amherst College; Kristen Greenland, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA; Rona Ramos, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Claudia De Grandi, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; Phoebe Cohen, Williams College, Williams, MA; Dana Dudle, Depauw University, Greencastle, Indiana; Selma Poturovic, DePauw University, Barbara Lom, Davidson College, Davidson, NC; Michelle Markley, Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA; Nidanie Henderson Stull, SOKA University of America, Aliso Viejo, CA; Victoria Chavez, University of Rhode Island, Providence, RI; Bryan Dewsbury, University of Rhode Island, Devavani Chatterjea, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN; Kelly Sheppard, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY