The goal of the RCN-UBE program is to link biological research discoveries with innovations in biology education to improve the learning environment in undergraduate biology classrooms. The program seeks to improve undergraduate education by leveraging the power of a collaborative network recognizing that new educational materials and pedagogies can simultaneously teach biological concepts while creating a supportive and engaging learning environment for all. The RCN-UBE program supports groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training, and education. The theme or focus of an RCN-UBE proposal can be on any topic likely to advance this goal, and activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries are encouraged. Acknowledging that students’ educational pathways vary, networks that include under-resourced institutions as full, equitable partners are highly desired. Understanding that people from diverse backgrounds bring different experiences and viewpoints, the RCN-UBE program is interested in proposals that include individuals from traditionally underrepresented in biological research and education as members of the steering committee. Lastly, the RCN-UBE program is also interested in developing, testing, and sharing best practices that can transform the online learning environment.
These efforts supported by RCN-UBE are responsive to the national movement to revolutionize undergraduate learning and teaching in the biological sciences as described in the 2009 “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education” report. Collectively, the RCN-UBE program has contributed to developing and disseminating educational research resources and modules, to forging new collaborations, and to sharing best practices and processes for scalability and sustainability of activities. These efforts have involved a large cadre of faculty, students, and other stakeholders.
In accord with other RCN awards, RCN-UBE awards provide opportunities 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.
Note: Because it addresses undergraduate biology education, the RCN-UBE program is offered in alignment with the NSF-wide undergraduate STEM education initiative, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE). More information about IUSE can be found at the end of the Program Description section of this solicitation and the NSF IUSE solicitation (NSF 21-579). Depending on the scope and nature of the project, investigators should consider applying to IUSE or RCN-UBE.