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WSU adds equity and justice designation to general education curriculum

The Washington State University Faculty Senate approved a new course designation on Oct. 6 called “Inquiry into Equity and Justice (EQJS)” that will expand the University Common Requirements (UCORE) general education curriculum for the first time in a decade.

The new UCORE designation, which will not impact UCORE credits necessary for graduation, goes into effect in fall 2023. Courses in EQJS will equip students with intellectual tools and social contexts necessary to critically examine power dynamics, and to recognize, question, and understand structural inequities and privileges, according to the UCORE website.

A set of EQJS courses will be determined over the coming months and, will also provide students vital intellectual foundations, tools, and literacies to assess and evaluate ideologies and narratives to ethically pursue inclusive and just societies.

Clif Stratton.
Stratton

“This is the first major change to UCORE requirements since they were put in place ten years ago, and the committee feels it represents a much-needed engagement with issues of utmost importance in today’s society,” said Clif Stratton, UCORE director and professor of history.

“It is critical to note that the addition of the EQJS designation to the inquiry set is credit neutral, meaning it adds no additional UCORE credit requirements to graduate,” said Stratton. Some colleges, however, such as the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Arts and Sciences, are planning to implement a college-level requirement that students complete courses in all UCORE inquiry designations. UCORE course requirements to graduate, then, could be determined on a college-by-college basis, as necessary.

“The UCORE committee thanks those colleges for their ongoing commitment to a broad educational experience at WSU,” he said.

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WSU Insider

With a few cups of water, scientists use eDNA to study reclusive, rare creatures off West Coast

Some critters in the ocean are reclusive, hiding from human probes and trawls. Other critters are rare, driven close to extinction from warming and increasingly acidic waters.

Studying rare and reclusive creatures has posed problems for scientists in the past. In recent years, environmental DNA, or eDNA, has helped. To isolate eDNA, scientists scoop water from the ocean.

Meghan Parsley.
Parsley

Meghan Parsley has collected eDNA samples for her doctoral work at WSU Pullman, one part of which involves using the quantity of eDNA to estimate the population size of wood frog tadpoles in Connecticut.

“This is where the magic happens,” Parsley said, walking into a sparse, clean lab at Washington State University.

Keeping unwanted DNA out of the lab is tough and involves a lot of bleach. “I have lots of bleach-stained clothes,” Parsley said.

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OPB.org
NWPB

WSU Everett celebrates 10 years of STEM education in North Puget Sound

In 2012, 24 mechanical engineering students began their studies at Washington State University on the Everett Community College Campus. This year, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture celebrates 10 years of STEM education in the North Puget Sound region. Voiland College students, faculty, staff, and alumni from WSU Everett are making a difference from coast to coast.

Now, a decade since Voiland College made its debut at WSU Everett, the campus offers 10 bachelor’s degree programs through WSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, CAHNRS, Carson College of Business, and the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. They also operate in a 95,000-square-foot building filled with the state-of-the-art equipment students need to prepare for the workforce. “We are proud to make higher education accessible to students who need to be closer to home, work opportunities, and family,” said Chancellor Paul Pitre. “Our commitment to creating new programs and connecting students with rewarding careers has never been stronger.”

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WSU Insider

 

Future student-exchange to Germany explores resilient, high-yielding crops

Students from Washington State University will travel to Germany next summer for a new research exchange program exploring complex plant traits underlying resilience and yield.

Funded by a $300,000 award from the National Science Foundation’s International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) initiative, the 10-week program expands WSU’s partnership with Germany’s CEPLAS — the Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences, which integrates the resources of the Universities of Cologne and Düsseldorf, the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, and the Forschungszentrum Jülich research institute.

Mechthild Tegeder.
Tegeder

“Bridging the U.S. with Germany, this new program offers students an unmatched opportunity to learn how crop research advances happen through international cooperation,” added Mechthild Tegeder, co-lead and professor in WSU’s School of Biological Sciences. “The new perspectives our students will gain from this program will be critical to their future success in the increasingly global world of plant science.”

Knowledge gained by this fundamental research could pave the way for new crop plants that are more productive and robust against environmental challenges, leading to sustainable, efficient cultivation of crops for food, fodder, and energy.

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WSU Insider

Doctoral Training Is Ossified. Can We Reinvent It?

Lessons from the short-lived Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. program.

Todd Butler.
Butler

In 2016, Todd Butler, an English professor at Washington State University, joined a committee charged with exploring changes in graduate education. At first, the group’s planning sessions felt typical: the slow consensus-building, the circling conversations. But then something shifted. “Two months into our planning process, the dean of the grad school said to all of us who were assembled there, ‘Are we just going to talk about doing something, or are we going to do it?’” Butler perked up: “I was not interested in writing another internal white paper that would get read, be appreciated, and stall out somewhere.” He saw the work as vitally important — an opportunity not just to improve graduate education but to articulate the importance of the humanities to a rural, land-grant university like Washington State.

Butler and his colleagues had received a grant from National Endowment for the Humanities under a new grant program called the Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. Begun in 2015, its mandate was broad, offering funds for graduate institutions to rethink doctoral education in the humanities. The goal was to focus on what the NEH delicately called “disparities between graduate-student expectations for a career in academe and eventual career outcomes,” and to further the role of the humanities in public life. Colleges could apply for either a planning grant, with the NEH matching an institutional commitment of up to $25,000, or an implementation grant of $350,000, to further efforts already under way. In 2016, the NEH awarded an initial round of grants: 25 planning grants and three implementation grants. Grantees planned to study a host of possible changes in doctoral education: practicum internships, curricular reform, professionalization, changes in academic advising and mentoring, and even new dissertation formats.

And then, in 2017, the program was quietly canceled. What went wrong?

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Chronicle of Higher Education