Howard Hughes Medical Institute Awards $60 Million to College to Improve Science Education


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has announced more than $60 million in grants. 104 colleges and universities through it Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative. The six-year scholarship is designed to help institutions improve their undergraduate science education and benefits students from diverse backgrounds.

In addition to the funding previously provided IE1 and IE2 schoolsThe new HHMI grant is now supporting 161 higher education institutions to develop and evaluate innovations in science education, particularly for underrepresented groups of students in science.

“Sustaining progress in diversity and inclusion requires an equity-focused scientific culture,” he said. Blanton Tolbert, HHMI’s vice president for scientific administration and culture. “Science education must increase the number of underrepresented people while creating an inclusive learning environment where everyone can thrive.”

The IE3 initiative focuses on three questions chosen to address the problem of STEM talent attrition, which occurs when college students who originally intended to study STEM drop out of STEM courses or fail to complete their college degrees.

  1. How can we make the content of elementary science experiences more accessible?
  2. How can we evaluate effective inclusive education and then use the evaluations in reward systems that include teacher promotion and tenure?
  3. How can we create true partnerships between 2- and 4-year colleges and universities to create a more inclusive experience for transfer students?

The IE3 initiative focuses on early STEM experiences because, according to HHMI officials, students often drop out of STEM courses.

Competition for the scholarship first began in 2019, and 354 colleges and universities submitted proposals for funding. However, IE3 was temporarily suspended and then updated due to numerous continuous outages due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Deep disruptions on many campuses mean faculty and administrators are unable to prepare a full proposal for IE3,” said David Asay, HHMI’s senior director of science education. “We realized that competitive thinking is the opposite of sharing. Furthermore, if we had continued with our original plan, 92 percent of the 354 schools that expressed commitment to inclusion would not have been included,” Asai said. “We decided to emphasize cooperation instead of competition.”

With the participation of external experts, the HSSU team reviewed 354 preliminary proposals and invited 108 schools to learn from them and express their willingness to work together to solve the three challenges. Finally, 104 of the 108 schools that were invited to participate in this activity.

The HHMI team then divided the 104 schools into seven Learning community clusters, or LDCs, each LDC consists of about 15 schools. The three SCCs focus on the content of primary science experiences; All three HSCs focus on evaluating effective and accessible learning; The seventh cluster focuses on creating partnerships between two- and four-year schools. 15 universities of the seventh cluster cooperate with 30 community colleges.

For example, Vanderbilt University gateway will receive $1.1 million to work with partners to improve the content of STEM courses. Vanderbilt’s 13 partner institutions include Auburn University at Montgomery, California State University-East Bay, College of the Holy Cross, Emmanuel College (Massachusetts), Hartwick College, Mount Holyoke College, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Rollins College, St. John’s University-New York, University of Akron, University of Kansas, University of Virginia.

“We are committed to making Vanderbilt a place where you can feel a sense of belonging and empower our students to succeed and develop STEM as careers and passions,” he said. Catherine Friedman, associate professor of biological sciences, associate director and co-director of Vanderbilt’s IE3 program. “We’re able to look at it from many different perspectives, and we’re doing that through research and teaching, which is exciting to me.”

In developing a collaborative approach, the HHMI team also changed the way it managed projects. Instead of each school operating independently and reporting its progress to the NHRC, IE3’s 104 schools report to each other, “together creating an annual reflection of what happened in the previous year”.

“What has emerged from each NSC is a plan in which the CSC serves as a ‘hub’ to coordinate the various trials conducted by member institutions,” Asai said. “During the six years of IE3, the SCC will monitor learning activities, manage the joint budget and, if necessary, decide how to redistribute grant funds within the SCC.”

About the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is a nonprofit research organization and philanthropy based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Founded in 1953 by Howard Hughes, it is one of the largest private organizations funding biological and medical research in the United States. HHMI’s mission is “to discover and share scientific knowledge for the benefit of all of us.”



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