This initiative offers a series of seminars centered on presentations by economists, political scientists, educators, and leading thinkers who are experts on some of the "big questions" about how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education relates to economics and social equity. Each seminar includes a talk and a subsequent discussion held by a panel of local leaders who will raise questions and reactions to the presenters’ ideas. Transcriptions of these talks and discussions will be posted in this website hosting an online forum which will gather ongoing contributions from diverse participants, links to other resources, and accompanying materials. We anticipate two seminars per year for a period of five years. The initiative is led by an editorial committee, including members from different constituencies such as universities, school districts, and businesses. This editorial committee looks for funds to support the initiative while preserving total autonomy in decision making, such as in deciding on speakers to invite and on the structure of the website.
Many parents, educators, administrators, politicians, and businessmen worry about the state of STEM education and strive to support programs and policies to improve its quality and broaden access. Over the years numerous debates have spread across the nation on which programs and policies are more likely to foster students' quality preparation and interest in mathematics, science, and engineering. Many of these efforts take the form of exposing leaders and stakeholders to selected programs, innovations, and evaluations in an effort to ascertain which ones are the most deserving of support. These types of activities are useful because they help familiarize leaders with an array of ongoing initiatives taking place in formal and informal education. However, they rarely elicit discussions about the "big questions" that ultimately must orient educational reform, such as:
While we will pursue broad attendance and participation in the seminars, the main desired impact of the initiative is not necessarily media attention but educational leadership. We hope that over the years this initiative will offer support for political, economic, and educational leaders in Southern California to become better educated on the different viewpoints at the intersections between STEM education, economics, and culture. Furthermore, we expect that this richer and deeper understanding will help catalyze other initiatives striving to influence educational policies in Sacramento and Washington, as well as local innovations benefiting students and families in the San Diego area.
The Editorial Committee is formed by: