About the Capacity Center: Background and Mission

Mission

The American Association for the Advancement Science (AAAS) Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity (Capacity Center) strives to create, foster, enhance, implement, evaluate, and disseminate research and strategies to build a fully diverse inclusive highly skilled 21st century workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, globally.

The Capacity Center seeks to be transitional, strategic, collaborative, and both national and international in focus.

  • The Center will support effective--evidence based and legally sustainable--strategies towards a high quality i.e., broadly diverse, inclusive and skilled, 21st century workforce.
  • The Center will bring people to the table through an advisory board and collaborations to answer hard questions, do research and enhance our knowledge base. We will collect data, network broadly, and create tools and resources to promote a high quality 21st century STEM workforce.
  • The Center will work on issues from Pre-K through career and life-long learning.
  • The Center will be forward-looking in its consideration of demography, definitions and dimensions of broad diversity, and workforce issues and needs.
  • The Center will work with partners and convene leaders to create and share knowledge and provide solutions.
  • The Center will partner with private and non-private sectors, including industries, universities, government, and non-profit organizations.

How We Do Business

The Capacity Center capitalizes on AAAS’s extensive track record of research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and capacity building.  The Center is located in the AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs, which has an unparalleled record of achievement in developing, managing, and evaluating programs to enhance the participation of all students, K-16 and beyond, in STEM careers.

The Center completes its projects through: partnerships, collaborations, consulting services, and grants.

History

The Capacity Center was established in August 2004 with a 3-year grant awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington, DC-based organization serving 10 million individuals across the science and engineering spectrum – education to the workplace.

“By pulling together what we now know and setting a research agenda for the future, this Center will surely help multiply the impact of the many efforts going on around the country to increase participation in science by members of under-represented groups,” said Alan I. Leshner,  AAAS’s chief executive officer and executive publisher of the journal Science.

AAAS has taken a leadership role in recent years in identifying and shaping efforts to improve science education and to recruit more students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The need for the Capacity Center can be traced to a shift in American culture: While science and technology are increasingly critical to economic growth and innovation, student interest in the fields has not kept pace. Through the hi-tech and medical research boom of the past 30 years, college enrollments in science and engineering have only held steady. In the past 15 years, the proportion of women in computer sciences and other booming fields has declined.

But researchers have found that if minorities and women participated in the science and engineering workforce in numbers proportionate to their presence in the general population, the technical workforce would be more diverse in composition and robust in talent for decades to come.

The Center draws on Education and Human Resources and other expertise at AAAS, as well as the private sector, to help schools recruit and retain students. Numerous federal and corporate investments in science, mathematics and engineering reform efforts, undergraduate and beyond, operate today on a variety of campuses. The Center will expand and connect these efforts through research-based technical assistance to sustain and scale-up innovative practices in teaching and learning.

That model persuaded the Sloan Foundation to make the grant, with the belief that the Center can be self-supporting after three years.”We’re convinced that the colleges and universities need the services in question, “said Ted Greenwood, the project director who oversees Sloan’s programs for women and minorities in science and engineering.” And we felt that AAAS had assembled a terrific team that has the skill to do this work.”

“As demographics, law and renewal of the science and engineering workforce continue to challenge U.S. higher education, the Center will magnify the scope, value and impact of its clients’ efforts to develop talent as well as new knowledge,” Capacity Center Founding Director, Dr. Daryl Chubin said.

In 2012, Dr. Yolanda Comedy was appointed as the Capacity Center's Director. Dr. Chubin remains involved with Center activities as Senior Advisor.

Contact Us

Inquiries about the Center should be directed to Yolanda Comedy.