Pitzer College Joint Science Department Receives NSF Grant

Funding complements College’s unique interdisciplinary educational approach

CLAREMONT, Calif. (Aug. 9, 2006) – Pitzer College’s Joint Science Department recognizes that the most exciting and important problems in science these days, from global warming to unsolved questions about how the brain works, are all intensely interdisciplinary problems. A recent National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of nearly $500,000 will provide an important boost to the College’s commitment to providing solutions to these and other problems.

Through Pitzer’s participation in the Joint Science Department with Scripps and Claremont McKenna colleges and the generosity of the National Science Foundation, faculty will be developing integrated introductory courses that combine biology, chemistry and physics.

“If we are to prepare students to work on these problems and questions, then we must help them develop the capacity to think beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines,” said Newton Copp, Sidney J. Weinberg Jr. Professor of Natural Sciences and Biology Department Chair. Selected case studies, such as global warming or nanotechnology, will provide focal points for bringing together the principles and techniques of the three disciplines. “Of all liberal arts institutions, we are remarkably well positioned to make this effort because of the multidisciplinary nature of the Joint Science Department,” Copp explained.

“I am delighted that the National Science Foundation has selected the Joint Science Department as a recipient of this prestigious award,” said Alan Jones, Pitzer College Dean of Faculty. “Consistent with Pitzer’s interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to knowledge, this grant will allow our Joint Science faculty to develop curriculum that explores knowledge that lies at the interstices of traditional disciplinary boundaries as well as large theoretical issues the scope of which scope transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.”

The main goal is to increase the number of students who graduate from Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Scripps with degrees in one of the natural sciences (biology, chemistry or physics). This goal is mandated by the NSF Science, Technology, Engineering, Math Talent Expansion (STEP) program developed in response to the Undergraduate Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education Improvement Act passed by Congress in 2001.

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Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

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