As we move past the midterm of the semester and head towards finals, many of us are beginning to look forward to winter recess. And while such breaks are as needed as they are deserved, it is also a time that many use to reflect upon their teaching. Now certainly there are many issues to consider when we undergo such self-evaluation, from how to augment our presentations to how to modify our assessment of student-learning, but one simple question (one that I am sure comes across all of our minds from time to time) is... "what do I want my students to get out of this course?" To be sure, you will find a lot of variation in how biology instructors will respond to this question; however, the thought of sowing the seed of scientific literacy in the minds of our students seems to be common answer among science educators in general. Personally, I feel that having our students come away with a sense of how science works is important, because when we consider the fact that a vast majority of society's interaction with science is through the media and the internet, then the goal of having a citizenry that is scientifically literate and capable of filtering through the informational noise becomes one of paramount importance.
With this in goal in mind, Westchester Community College hosted ESATYCB's 29th annual conference at our Valhalla campus in the spring of 2010. During this all-day conference, a number of presenters touched upon many of the themes that are at the intersection of modern science, the media and the public. The list of speakers included Doris Bucher, a premier scientist with respect to flu vaccine production; Steven Novella, a leading advocate of science-based medicine; Carl Zimmer, an award-winning science journalist; and David Sloan Wilson, a principal promoter of evolution education. That day, over a dozen community colleges were represented and our interactions were dynamic, informative and productive. Also, during the general membership meeting that took place after our evening banquet, we reaffirmed our commitment to promoting scientific literacy by a 34-3 vote to adopt a revised position statement titled, "Application of Sound Scientific Principles Influencing the Philosophies and Practices of Alternative Medicine."
This year, our President-Elect, Larry Weiskirch will be organizing the 30th annual conference at Onondaga Community College, in Syracuse, NY, on the weekend of April 29th. The theme for this meeting will be on the "Biology of Food," with a number of presentations covering many interesting facets of this important aspect of our everyday biology. More details about this conference will be available soon on the ESATYCB website and in our spring newsletter. So mark you calendars.
Westchester Community College