Bard College Awarded $800,000 to Support Its Science Education Initiatives

Share Article

Bard College has been awarded an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program (HHMI) to support the College’s continuing innovation of science education in the context of the liberal arts.

Grant Builds on the Success of Bard’s New Citizen Science Program

Bard College has been awarded an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program (HHMI) to support the College’s continuing innovation of science education in the context of the liberal arts. This generous award will fund the creation and implementation of a new model of scientific literacy for undergraduate education. The project builds on the success of Bard’s new Citizen Science (CitSci) Program—an intensive introduction to the sciences for all first-year students. With the support of the HHMI grant, an interdisciplinary team of Bard faculty and staff will work to develop a new definition of scientific literacy that can pertain to all college-level students; use this definition to innovate curricula, assessment tools, and faculty training strategies for the CitSci Program and scientific courses for non-science majors; and disseminate their ideas on scientific literacy to other colleges and universities.

During the first year of the HHMI grant, Bard will convene a working group of science and non-science faculty, staff, and students to develop a campus-wide definition of scientific literacy that is both substantive and practical. The primary objective is for every student to gain scientific literacy that will serve as a foundation for a lifetime of engagement with scientific issues. Bard’s interdisciplinary team will include: Felicia Keesing, project director and associate professor of biology; Mark Halsey, associate dean of the college and associate professor of mathematics; Michael Tibbetts, associate professor of biology; Brooke Jude, director of CitSci and assistant professor of biology; and Philip Pardi, director of college writing and visiting assistant professor of writing.

In the first year, with the grant’s support, the College will hold a conference on undergraduate scientific literacy at its Annandale campus. Participants from across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are experts on scientific literacy will be invited to discuss alternative standards and appropriate strategies for scientific literacy for undergraduates. To further foster discussion on scientific literacy among faculty and staff at other institutions, Bard will host symposia at national meetings of major scientific societies, as well as launch a website targeted at college faculty, staff, and administrators that collects resources (including course materials) and references on scientific literacy at the college level.

Bard’s CitSci Program was launched in 2011 to develop student awareness of the methods scientists use to conduct scientific investigations. The mandatory, ungraded, immersive three-week course helps students to explore the strengths and weaknesses of these different scientific approaches. The HHMI grant will help to further focus the goals of the CitSci program as well as fund the creation of new positions including postdoctoral fellowships in assessment, curriculum, and teaching.

Over the past decade, Bard College has undertaken a comprehensive initiative, led by its science faculty, aimed at revitalizing science education in a liberal arts context. During this time, the number of science and math faculty has tripled, with the greatest growth in biology, computer science, and math; the faculty have refashioned introductory courses and dramatically expanded the number of research opportunities for undergraduates; and the College has completed a new building, designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, that houses the biology, chemistry, and computer science departments.

Last April, HHMI invited 215 small colleges and universities in the United States to compete for grants in science education totaling more than $50 million. In May, Bard College was selected as one of the award recipients.

“What happens during the undergraduate years is vital to the development of the student, whether she will be a scientist, a science educator, or a member of society who is scientifically curious and literate. HHMI is investing in these schools because they have shown they are superb incubators of new ideas and models that might be replicated by other institutions to improve how science is taught in college,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president of science education at HHMI. “We know that these schools have engaged faculty. They care deeply about teaching and how effectively their students are learning about science.”


Undergraduate Science Education and HHMI
Since 1988, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded more than $870 million to 274 colleges and universities to support science education. Those grants have generally been awarded through two separate but complementary efforts, one aimed at undergraduate-focused institutions and the other at research universities. HHMI support has enabled nearly 85,000 students nationwide to work in research labs and developed programs that have helped 100,000 K-12 teachers learn how to teach science more effectively. For more information, visit


About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard is an independent, nonsectarian, residential, coeducational college offering a four-year B.A. program in the liberal arts and sciences and a five-year B.S./B.A. degree in economics and finance. The Bard College Conservatory of Music offers a five-year program in which students pursue a dual degree—a B.Music and a B.A. in a field other than music—and offers an M.Music in vocal arts and in conducting. Bard and its affiliated institutions also grant the following degrees: A.A. at Bard High School Early College, a public school with campuses in New York City (Manhattan and Queens) and Newark, New Jersey; A.A. and B.A. at Bard College at Simon’s Rock: The Early College, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and through the Bard Prison Initiative at five correctional institutions in New York State; M.A. in curatorial studies, and M.S. in environmental policy and in climate science and policy at the Annandale campus; M.F.A. and M.A.T. at multiple campuses; M.B.A. in sustainability in New York City; and M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in the decorative arts, design history, and material culture at the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. Internationally, Bard confers dual B.A. degrees at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, Russia (Smolny College), and American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan; and dual B.A. and M.A.T. degrees at Al-Quds University in the West Bank.

Bard offers nearly 50 academic programs in four divisions. Total enrollment for Bard College and its affiliates is approximately 3,900 students. The undergraduate college has an enrollment of more than 1,900 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. For more information about Bard College, visit


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Mark Primoff
Visit website