First Things First
Parson Foundation Gift
Pitzer College is pleased to announce a prestigious $250,000 grant from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. This grant will support the creation of a Science Learning Community as part of the Residential Life Project. The Science Learning Community will include a faculty apartment for a scientist in-residence, dedicated residential rooms for students pursuing science majors, and dedicated study rooms and living room areas for science students. The goal is to create a supportive community for students while they are exploring their chosen fields of biology, chemistry and physics, or one of many interdisciplinary fields such as neurobiology or environmental science.
According to education experts brought together by Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), one of the leading advocates in the U.S. for building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, “If colleges and universities are to build the kind of natural science communities that succeed in attracting and sustaining student interest in science and mathematics, spaces must encourage daily interaction between student and faculty, and between student and student.” For many, it may seem ironic that successful spaces for teaching the “hard sciences” are those that:
- encourage an open community,
fortuitous encounters, serendipitous engagement;
- are welcoming to all, kind to the user, human-scaled;
- are subservient to human activity, enabling people to connect with ease;
- meet current needs, keep future options open, and can change with grace;
- are open to surprise, comfortable with conflict; and
- enable a community to reach continually toward its potential.
PKAL promotes the development of ideal spaces for learning science—spaces where members of the campus community can connect with each other as they explore the world around them. These spaces, by virtue of their design and locations, should also signal that science is a core discipline in 21st century liberal arts education and, in so doing, encourage and expand the community of science. Moreover, these spaces should be built with sustainability in mind to reduce budget costs while mitigating or eliminating negative environmental impacts.
Ultimately, the ideal space for learning science is one in which students connect what they are learning in the classroom and lab to the world beyond the campus, engaged in real-world problems and possibilities.
Pitzer is creating just this kind of ideal space with its new Science Learning Community funded in part through the generosity of the Parsons Foundation.