campus partner(s)

Williams College

Barnard College

Vassar College

Carleton College






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Lois M. Banta

Williams College

Grant Summary

$97,884 over 29 months. Undergraduate colleges face serious constraints in incorporating "big" science (which typically requires the resources of large research institutions) into discovery-orientated lab curricula. In May 2006, a group of fourteen colleges agreed to take on this challenge by partnering with the Columbia Genome Center (CGC) to scale the big science of genomics to the capacities of small institutions. By providing undergraduate departments with access to state-of-the-art genomics instrumentation and highly trained research staff, the colleges' partnership with the CGC aims to make it possible for undergraduates to use genome sequence data to answer novel questions and to participate in authentic science discovery. Now faculty members from four of these colleges—Barnard, Carleton, Vassar, and Williams—will form a working group to provide leadership for this effort as it goes forward. The group will host a series of workshops centered on genomics curricula and pedagogical methodology, as well as a competition—open to faculty from all 14 colleges—to develop curriculum, courses and / or modules for use in courses for non-science majors through upper-level electives. Courses and modules will be developed during the first academic year of the project, presented at workshops the following summer, and then taught and assessed in the second year. A website will be created with an eye to its becoming a leading resource in undergraduate genomics pedagogy. The website will facilitate communication among participants during all stages of the project, and enable interested faculty and colleges to access courses, modules, and all associated supporting materials. Key outcomes will be a set of web-based courses, modules, and teacher's guide, and a framework for further curricular innovations using emerging genomic sequence data from the CGC.