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Life Sciences Inst Profile

Washington University Life Sciences Teacher Institute: Education for a Global Community


The Washington University Life Sciences Teacher Institute (WULSTI) offers an innovative approach to high school biology teaching and learning, centered around an interdisciplinary curriculum taught by faculty who are recognized leaders in all areas of biological research. Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis Public Schools are core partners. Additional partners include the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Pfizer Corporation, Monsanto Corporation, and the National Association of Biology Teachers. WULSTI includes two summer institutes at Washington University, academic year work with online support, and a leadership component. Leadership experiences for the teacher participants include increased professional involvement in their school/district, local or national professional organization, and/or a research fellowship at a university or corporate partner. The Institute curriculum, which leads to a Master of Arts in Biology, provides a rigorous interdisciplinary approach, combining content knowledge and the broad implications for human impact. Through the Institute, the partners are addressing shortcomings in secondary biology education by creating new pathways for preparation of highly qualified master teachers who are also local and national leaders. The Institute is preparing teachers to improve their students' biological content knowledge, and to help sustain change in teaching practice at their schools and districts. The project goals are to:
1. Develop a national cadre of master teachers of high school biology who demonstrate intellectual engagement with and mastery of global issues in life science, and who use related research based pedagogy and challenging content in their courses.
2. Improve interest, engagement and achievement by affected students in secondary biology.
3. Promote institute partners' and participants' development as local and national educational leaders.

Approximately 90-100 teachers are directly involved over the five years of the project, with additional teachers impacted through the leadership work of the institute participants. One third of the places in the Institute are reserved for St. Louis Public School teachers, with the remaining spaces filled through nationwide recruitment. The number of high school students of the participants, alone, impacted over five years is estimated at 60,000.