The goal of the RCN program is to advance a field or create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training, and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries. The RCN-UBE program originated as a unique RCN track to “catalyze positive changes in biology undergraduate education” (NSF 08-035) and is now supported by the collaborative efforts of the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). It has been responsive to the national movement to revolutionize undergraduate learning and teaching in the biological sciences as described in the “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education” report. The RCN-UBE program seeks to improve undergraduate biology in different areas by leveraging the power of a collaborative network. The theme or focus of an RCN-UBE proposal can be on any topic likely to advance the goal of enhancing undergraduate biology education. Collectively, the program has contributed to developing and disseminating educational research resources and modules, to forging of new collaborations, and to sharing of best practices and ideas for scalability and sustainability of activities. These efforts have involved a large cadre of faculty, students, and other stakeholders. Proposed networking activities directed to the RCN-UBE program should focus on a theme to give coherence to the collaboration.
In accord with other RCNs, the RCN-UBE provides opportunities to foster new collaborations (including international partnerships), to address interdisciplinary topics, to explore innovative ideas for implementing novel networking strategies, to explore collaborative technologies, and to develop community standards. RCN-UBE awards do not support existing networks or the activities of established collaborations. RCN awards do not support primary research.
Note: Because it addresses undergraduate biology education, the RCN-UBE track is offered in alignment with the NSF-wide undergraduate STEM education initiative, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE). More information about IUSE can be found in the Program Description section of this solicitation. Depending on the scope and nature of the project, investigators should consider applying to IUSE or RCN-UBE.