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  1. Abstract Background Transforming the culture of STEM higher education to be more inclusive and help more students reach STEM careers is challenging. Herein, we describe a new model for STEM higher education transformation, the Sustainable, Transformative Engagement across a Multi-Institution/Multidisciplinary STEM, (STEM) 2 , “STEM-squared”, Network. The Network embraces a pathways model, as opposed to a pipeline model, to STEM career entry. It is founded upon three strong theoretical frameworks: Communities of Transformation, systems design for organizational change, and emergent outcomes for the diffusion of innovations in STEM education. Currently composed of five institutions—three private 4-year universities and two public community colleges—the Network capitalizes on the close geographic proximity and shared student demographics to effect change across the classroom, disciplinary, institutional, and inter-institutional levels. Results The (STEM) 2 Network has increased the extent to which participants feel empowered to be change agents for STEM higher education reform and has increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions. Participants were motivated to join the Network to improve STEM education, to improve the transfer student experience, to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines and institutions, and because they respected the leadership team. Participants continue to engage in the Network because of the collaborations created, opportunitiesmore »for professional growth, opportunities to improve STEM education, and a sense that the Network is functioning as intended. Conclusion The goal to increase the number and diversity of people entering STEM careers is predicated on transforming the STEM higher education system to embrace a pathways model to a STEM career. The (STEM) 2 Network is achieving this by empowering faculty to transform the system from the inside. While the systemic transformation of STEM higher education is challenging, the (STEM) 2 Network directly addresses those challenges by bridging disciplinary and institutional silos and leveraging the reward structure of the current system to support faculty as they work to transform this very system.« less
  2. ABSTRACT The global COVID-19 pandemic left universities with few options but to turn to remote learning. With much effort, STEM courses made this change in modality; however, many laboratory skills, such as measurement and handling equipment, are more difficult to teach in an online learning environment. A cohort of instructors who are part of the NSF RCN-UBE funded Sustainable, Transformative Engagement across a Multi-Institution/Multidisciplinary STEM (STEM 2 ) Network (a working group of faculty from two community colleges and three 4-year universities) analyzed introductory biology and chemistry courses to identify essential laboratory skills that students will need in advanced courses. Seven essential laboratory proficiencies were derived from reviewing disciplinary guiding documents such as AAAS’s Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education, the American Society for Microbiology’s Recommended Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Microbiology Education , and the American Chemical Society’s Guidelines for Chemistry : data analysis, scientific writing, proper handling and disposal of laboratory materials, discipline-specific techniques, measurement, lab safety and personal protective equipment, and interpersonal and collaborative skills. Our analysis has determined that some of these skills are difficult to develop in a remote online setting but could be recovered with appropriate interventions. Skill recovery procedures suggested are a skillsmore »“boot camp,” department and college coordinated club events, and a triage course. The authors recommend that one of these three recovery mechanisms be offered to bridge this skill gap and better prepare STEM students for upper-level science courses and the real world.« less