Nebraska Wesleyan University was recently awarded a $529,500 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The grant supports the development of inclusive STEM curriculum, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to be successful and feel a sense of belonging in the STEM fields. NWU is one of 104 higher education institutions across the United States to receive an HHMI grant.
Nebraska Wesleyan STEM faculty will collaborate to develop an integrated strategy for inclusive introductory experiences for students and enhanced divisional policies that promote equity. Faculty will embed community-building activities as part of the broader introductory science culture. This work aims to expose students to a range of STEM pathways early in the curriculum; help students recognize their strengths and passions so they can make informed and supported career decisions; and enhance both STEM identity and sense of belonging.
“The grant allows us to collaboratively make NWU a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all students,” said Professor of Biology Angela McKinney. “The Learning Community that NWU is a part of is focusing on achievement-oriented thinking and practices in all aspects the institution and student experience, rather than deficit. This is an exciting opportunity, and we cannot wait to see the outcomes it provides.”
Each of the 104 higher education colleges and universities selected for the grant are divided into seven Learning Community Clusters (LCCs), with approximately 15 institutions belonging to each LCC. Nebraska Wesleyan will partner on a six-year effort with other LLC schools. The cluster approach seeks to shift institutions from deficit- to achievement-oriented thinking and practices through five overlapping activity areas: continuing education, inclusive curricula, student empowerment, inclusive collaboration, and broader approaches to institutional transformation. The grant will also support workshops and professional development opportunities for NWU employees and students.
HHMI is the largest private biomedical research institution in the nation. Their headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland.