Full Program »
Exploring The Role of Collaboration In The Development of Community Leaders: Student Experiences From A Learning Community In The Stem Foundry Heritage Fellows Program
In recent years, postsecondary Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) recruitment initiatives have recognized the value of learning communities as vehicles for engagement and retention. The purpose of this contribution is thus to present experiences from an innovative learning community experience born from the STEM Foundry Heritage Fellows (FHF) program. The innovation of this program rests in the integration of the Renaissance Foundry Model (herein the Foundry) which features the development of collaboration skills and the swift and iterative acquisition and transfer of knowledge. This program thus provided students with an interdisciplinary and collegially-supported learning community experience to explore useful solutions within the lack of multiculturalism in STEM community programs. Through this program, students were empowered towards becoming leaders in civic action, via the planning and development of a community outreach project to address the perceived lack of representation (within the region that the University serves) in STEM.
To better understand how this learning community leveraged collaboration to foster holistic STEM professionals, this contribution will offer insight from the student perspective, formed through reflections and observations, relating to the goals of the program that were achieved through interdisciplinary thinking. The analysis of this piece is therefore rooted in auto-ethnographic representation of the experiences accrued as a member of one of the leadership teams in this program that produced the community-outreach event entitled SMARTS: STEM, Multiculturalism, and the Arts. This analysis ultimately draws attention to the function of collaboration within a learning community by exploring connections between service-learning and interdisciplinary collaboration as a mechanism to develop more holistic STEM professionals with the abilities to navigate STEM issues beyond technical knowledge. This presentation will also offer observations for future efforts centered on creating collaborative and community-immersed activities that help in transforming the current landscape.