Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Should all students—regardless of academic field or interest—study science? Does experience in scientific research give students an edge in learning how to reason, evaluate evidence, solve problems? What can scientists teach their counterparts in English, history, and social sciences about observation and the evaluation of evidence? These are just some of the questions that will be explored during a two-day conference on science in education at Bard College.

On Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, the Institute for Writing and Thinking, in collaboration with Bard's Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, is presenting "The Educated Mind: Where Science Comes In." Preregistration is required.

Secondary school and college teachers of all subjects are invited to this annual April conference, which includes formal presentations and small group workshops that are led by associates of the Institute for Writing and Thinking and members of the Bard science faculty. Among the featured speakers is Felicia Keesing, assistant professor of biology at Bard and visiting scientist at the Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. Keesing, coauthor of a recent study on Lyme disease risk, is the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant to investigate biodiversity in an East African savanna. Other presenters are Sanford Simon, professor and researcher in cellular biophysics at Rockefeller University; Charles Liu, an astrophysicist at the Department of Astrophysics of the American Museum of Natural History and Hayden Planetarium; and Bronwyn Bevan, director of the Center for Informal Learning and Schools at the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco.

Teresa Vilardi, director of the Institute, says the aim of this conference is to "consider innovative science curricula that encourage secondary and college students to think like scientists." The presentations and panel discussions will examine how science and mathematics are uniquely situated to develop students' abilities to reason, to ask good questions, to evaluate evidence—skills that are necessary for study in all academic fields. Vilardi adds, "In addition, participants will examine the methods that science and mathematics teachers can learn from their colleagues in the humanities. How, for example, may the uses of narrative—usually confined to literature classes—offer science teachers new ways to engage students' interests? This conference particularly addresses the needs of science teachers who want to engage the attention not only of the preprofessional science students, but also of the students who may go on to study music, literature, or law."

The conference will focus on innovative approaches to teaching about the current scientific research that affects our understanding of history, politics, and philosophy; the study of interdisciplinary texts; strategies for teaching science within a liberal arts curriculum; and what it means to think critically in any academic discipline. Included is a special interdisciplinary symposium on the meaning of intelligence within the context of computer design and the philosophical questions raised by artificial intelligence. This will be led by members of the Bard faculty from the Computer Science, Mathematics, History, Science, Philosophy, and Political Studies Programs.

Through a national faculty of Institute associates, the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking offers professional development in writing for secondary and college teachers of all subjects. The Institute workshops—offered at Bard as well as on-site at schools—are experiental; instruction about theory supports and complements practice. The workshops model a collaborative learning environment in which reading, writing, and thinking are active processes. In addition to its basic writing and thinking workshops, the Institute has developed workshops that address the connections between reading and writing in the teaching of literature and of mathematics and science.

Preregistration and payment for the conference is required; a fee of $175 includes workshop tuition, materials, and meals. Schools sending three or more teachers to the conference will receive a 15 percent discount. For further information or to register, call the Institute for Writing and Thinking at 845-758-7484, e-mail, or visit

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This event was last updated on 02-03-2003