Cross-campus center for bioscience students being developed

Nov. 13, 2012

The Institute for Biology Education and Steenbock Library have launched a joint Educational Innovation project to create a biology community and learning center for bioscience students across campus.

Photo: Janet Branchaw

Branchaw

Organizers say the center will be a welcoming home base where students can connect with each other, as well as a central gateway to the biosciences where they can find information, get engaged in high-impact learning experiences, access support services, and integrate their experiences into a meaningful whole. It will offer programming and services to all bioscience students, including specialized programming to meet the needs of first-year, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students.

The physical location of the center will be Steenbock Library. There will also be an online presence, both for information and community building. “Steenbock is a terrific partner for community building,” says Institute for Biology Education Interim Director Janet Branchaw. “Not only do they have wonderful facilities, but they also share our cross-campus vision and our student-centered approach. We both want to bring people together and make information and opportunities more accessible.”

Preliminary plans for the community and learning center emerged from a series of conversations involving people from across the university, focused on connecting bioscience students with beyond-the-classroom learning experiences like leadership, public service, research and international study. With the basic framework now outlined, broader input is being sought to move the project into its next phase.

Two town hall meetings have been scheduled to gather feedback from the UW–Madison community. They will be Monday, Nov. 19, from 1-2:30 p.m. in Room 260 of Bascom Hall; and Tuesday, Dec. 11 from noon-1:30 p.m. at Steenbock Library.

An RSVP is recommended, but not required, by emailing Amy Bethel.

The center is envisioned as an endeavor that will benefit everyone involved. Steenbock Library Interim Director Lisa Wettleson is excited about how the project will enhance the library’s ability to serve students into the future. “We are delighted to join the growing number of UW–Madison libraries that are partnering to create innovative learning spaces like this in response to student needs in a world of rapid change.”

Existing services and programming from Steenbock and the Institute for Biology Education will be incorporated into the center. It will also offer a potential satellite location for programs from around campus. Networks of faculty and staff providing programming and services will be built to facilitate information exchange, coordination, efficiency and collaborative innovation, and new programs will be developed in partnership as needs are identified.

For more information, download this three-page PDF describing the project.

—Amy Bethel