OBSSR Releases Report on STEM Education Workshop
April 15, 2011
The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) released a report on Behavioral and Social Sciences in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Education that summarizes discussions held by numerous STEM education stakeholders during a workshop on the NIH campus on July 13, 2010.
The workshop was designed to discuss opportunities for more active inclusion of the behavioral and social sciences in STEM education initiatives. Representatives from the White House Domestic Policy Council, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Sciences Foundation, NIH, scientific and education communities, and scientific societies were in attendance.
Topics ranged from current federal efforts in STEM education reform to cultural understandings of what is included in "science" and the forces that shape those views. The workshop and report was NIH’s first formal effort to examine the place of behavioral and social sciences in federal STEM initiatives given NIH’s mission to "seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability."
The National Science Foundation sponsored its own workshop in 2003 which resulted in a report, Education and Training in the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences: A Plan of Action, that aimed to more fully integrate the behavioral and social in STEM education.
The NIH workshop and report focused on "identifying ways to embed behavioral and social sciences as core components of STEM education; defining strategies to increase public understanding of behavioral and social sciences; enhancing awareness of the value of these sciences; discussing strategies for creating a stronger pipeline for behavioral and social scientists; and brainstorming research priorities" in this area. The discussion included teacher training and workforce issues as well as interest in engaging a wider group of stakeholders during the next stages.