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Day One: December 3
SESSION II: Organizing Institutions and Existing Models
Dr. Bornbusch provided background information on AAAS, noting that it is among the oldest scientific organizations in the world, having been founded in 1848, and that more than 20 percent of its membership is international. He reviewed the call for proposals that represented one of the core goals of the workshop, emphasizing that proposals should address one or both of two essential activities: a) curriculum reform and development and b) engagement with and outreach to local communities. The complete call for proposals is attached as Appendix A.
Mary Ann Evans spoke next, representing IWISE, noting that IWISE was created in 1996 by UNESCO to help increase the participation of women in science and engineering, and that it was a cosponsor of the 1999 conference that founded AWSE. She invited inquiries about graduate students attending her home university of Iowa State, noting that support exists for international students and that she could help interested students to obtain it.
Vicki Wilde provided background information and a summary of HIV-related efforts within CGIAR. She noted that CGIAR comprised 16 research centers throughout the world, with a secretariat headquartered at the World Bank in Washington DC. CGIAR staff include 900 "internationally recruited" members and 7,000 "nationally recruited" members, of which 70 percent are natural scientists and 48 percent are from developing countries. She noted that only 18 percent of the internationally recruited staff and 28 percent of the nationally recruited staff are women, and hoped that these percentages could be raised in future. As program leader of the Gender and Diversity Program, Dr. Wilde has responsibility for focusing on HIV in the workplace. She emphasized the need for prevention, the importance of access to health care, and the development of a workplace that does not discriminate on the basis of gender or disease status. The CGIAR program stresses compassion, education/prevention (including condom distribution), and support for the bereaved, and includes the following basic policy commitments:
Dr. Wilde also emphasized that there would be a survey within CGIAR to monitor progress in these areas, and that results would be made public so as to encourage clear action throughout the organization. In response to a question on how to increase the percentage of women within CGIAR, Dr. Wilde noted the development of a database of women scientists from which the organization planned to recruit new hires, and that the organization would offer training to promote women from within rather than only pursuing outside talent. She also mentioned that the organization was conducting a study of the global pool of women scientists in order to understand better the overall standing of women scientists worldwide.
David Burns, speaking on behalf of AAC&U and the SENCER initiative, emphasized the confluence of science, HIV, civic engagement, and education, noting that AAC&U was involved in these activities because its mission is continually to examine and re-think "what it means to be an educated person" in these times. Dr. Burns stressed the importance of going beyond a focus on individual risk to take account of the wider social environment and accept the notion that we share a kind of "Common Health." Individual risk and common health, respectively, represent the first two "strands" of engagement with HIV/AIDS, and Dr. Burns noted two others: an improved focus on science and education, necessary to promote understanding of the issues of the day and to foster an engaged citizenry (the rationale behind SENCER), and a "moral strand" of compassion that compels us to become involved.
Monica Devanas provided a summary of an educational model that she has developed at Rutgers University in the United States, where she has adapted an introductory microbiology course to focus on "Biomedical Issues of HIV/AIDS." This course is at the 100 (introductory) level with no prerequisites, deals with real issues in student lives, and focuses on connecting theory with practice and delivering complex content in manageable pieces. The course presents a core of biological principles (e.g., sexually transmitted diseases, immune system functions, and virology), brings in notable guest speakers to deal with a variety of psychological and social issues, and engages the students with creative writing and research assignments. Students are required, for example, to describe a population and a problem, design a solution, and obtain critical reviews from friends and, for extra credit, critiques from real-world experts. Course information can be found at her website: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~devanas/AIDS
Prof. Devanas also described her participation in "wrap-around seminars" with other cooperating professors in different fields, to connect learning in diverse areas such as education, criminal justice, journalism, psychology, women's studies, political science, urban studies, Africana, communications, English, and human ecology, all of which can be related through a common focus on HIV/AIDS in one way or another. In response to a question on which types of students found the course most useful, Prof. Devanas said that there had been no comprehensive survey undertaken but that it was clear that the course mainly comprised non-science majors, who could receive credit for the class while science majors could not. Even in the absence of receiving credit, a significant number of science majors took the course, feeling that it addressed a highly relevant topic that would be of great use to them in application in their fields.
Debra Meyer, consultant on HIV/AIDS and serving as rapporteur on behalf of the AWSE contingent that attended the 2001 SENCER Institute, reported that the SENCER principles of civic engagement are universal and well applicable in the African context. She also noted that each individual institution can and should adapt the general principles as desired to fit with local conditions, with the primary purpose of getting educational information out into the community and engaging the university directly in society. Dr. Meyer emphasized that the benefits of the SENCER approach included the ability to add more information to courses without necessarily adding more work for the professors, through the mechanism of team teaching and modification/expansion of existing courses and programs (without ruling out the possibility of developing entirely new courses as desired); she also felt that information retention was improved as a result of the more pertinent and interesting real-life context of the teaching, and noted the improved community ties that resulted from incorporating social engagement into the curriculum.
Dr. Meyer herself was able to incorporate SENCER principles from the August 2000 Institute immediately into her fall semester course on virology, inviting the participation of the nursing department, a local HIV-related NGO, and HIV-positive individuals in her classroom, and adapting assignments to address real community needs as identified by the NGO. More specifically, students were required to present scientifically accurate but perfectly clear explanations of anti-retroviral treatments in support of the need to take medicines exactly as directed because of viral replication. She reported that as a result of these modifications, students became highly engaged in the course and practical learning and retention were enhanced.
General discussion focused on the issue of what was needed in order for universities to make fundamental shifts in their curricula to address HIV/AIDS, e.g., how to get university administrators on board, and whether special training was required for professors. Several panel members emphasized that no new permission or administrative support was necessarily needed in order to adapt existing courses, and that much could be accomplished by building new material into the context of traditional courses and assigning student projects that can be put to real use, for example designing posters explaining AIDS processes, which can be donated to NGOs, schools, churches, etc. On the other hand, others argued, to some extent new skills are required of teachers and that high-level leadership within universities is essential. It was argued that some lecturers have become quite fixed in their ideas and methods and will not on their own be likely to take on the challenge of adaptation for HIV education; they may require motivation as well as training and support. It was noted that for this reason one of the requirements of the project's call for proposals was the participation of an administrator as one of the four people on the university team.
As to the question of whether the region had enough lecturers capable of making such adaptations, some participants felt that sufficient experts were already in place and could be made use of through such means as team-teaching if necessary, while others felt that short courses and workshops on HIV education would be imperative. The suggestion was made that AWSE might be able to fill a role in faculty development support.
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Maseno University (powerpoint)
Maseno University (PDF)