WMU News

New science education institute, Africana Studies Program approved

May 31, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The establishment of an institute focusing on science education and the merger of two existing programs into a new Africana Studies Program were approved by the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees at its May 30 meeting.

Through the Board's action, the University's Department of Science Studies will be changed to the Institute of Science Education. According to Dr. Leonard C. Ginsberg, associate dean of WMU's College of Arts and Sciences, the change will allow the University's science education efforts to be centrally coordinated while integrating science education with the sciences.

Under the auspices of the new institute will be: master's and doctoral degrees programs in science education; undergraduate elementary education programs that are part of the mathematics/science minor; the Center for Science Education, which provides professional development courses and in-service workshops for area teachers; and Science and Mathematics Program Improvement, which provides technical assistance and conducts research, evaluations and program development projects to K-12 schools and other educational institutions.

As a result of the change, Department of Science Studies faculty members will be reassigned to science departments such as chemistry, physics and biology, based upon their disciplines.

"Changes in Michigan's secondary education standards have made it increasingly important to have science educators within science departments," Ginsberg says. "The formation of this institute will allow the placement of science education faculty into their respective science departments, retain graduate and in-service programs, and develop a coordinating function for science education. The combined effect of the new institute and reassigning science educators to science departments should establish WMU as a national leader in science education."

The Board also gave the green light to combining the University's African Studies Program, housed in the Diether H. Haenicke Center for International and Area Studies, with the Black American Studies Program to form a new Africana Studies Program. According to Dr. James Gilchrist, associate dean of the college of Arts and Sciences, the merger recognizes the important role that the history of Africa has in the study of African Americans.

"This merger reflects our belief that in order to better comprehend African American experiences, one should understand their link to Africa," Gilchrist says. "This link has affected African American culture and identity. Bringing these programs together will facilitate more integrated learning."

Both changes will be effective July 1.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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