Stony Brook Awarded Grant For National Stem Education Initiative From Keck Foundation

Educators to expand undergraduate science courses and partnerships with indigenous populations

The grant funds a National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) program, titled “Transcending Barriers to Success: Connecting Indigenous Knowledge to Science,” which will help to establish and advance robust partnerships between indigenous populations and educators to improve undergraduate educational outcomes for students, as well as promote cultural understanding.

“This important award from the Keck Foundation will support unique research central to one of Stony Brook University’s educational missions – to expand undergraduate education in STEM fields within the context of a diverse society,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University. “By also incorporating cultural understanding within all areas of the sciences, this transformative educational program will further enhance the academic experiences of faculty and students.”

The NCSCE is a national project housed within the Department of Technology & Society in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University. Its signature initiative is SENCER, a national program focused on empowering faculty and improving STEM teaching and learning by making connections to civic issues.

According to Eliza Reilly, PhD, Executive Director of the NCSCE, and a Research Professor in the Department of Technology & Society, the award will help to build Hawaii SENCER’s educational model for advancing STEM learning in indigenous communities, extending it to Alaska and to selected pilot projects in other states.

Over the grant period, 41 courses in areas such as chemistry, biology, and environmental science will be revised and impact some 1,000 students. During the process of course revision and development, 75 formal educators and administrators will partner with 37 native community leaders and 120 informal educators to deepen the educational collaborative. Local environmental and health issues will be discussed and provide context for inquiry-based learning that transcends perceived conflicts between local traditions and scientific ways of thinking.

Stony Brook is a key site for faculty development and a test-bed of curricular innovation for the SENCER initiative. Some of the faculty to be involved in the project under the Keck grant will receive training and attend workshops during the Summer Institute at Stony Brook.

Approximately 250 national STEM educators also attended the Summer Institute from August 3 to August 6.


About the W.M. Keck Foundation

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M.Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research. The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families, special needs populations and safety-net services. For more information, please visit

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