ASQ - Education Division

Lyman Briggs College: An Innovative Living-Learning Community for STEM Education

Abstract: This paper is co-authored by Ryan D. Sweeder, Ph.D. and Aaron M. McCright, Ph.D.of Michigan State University. The paper will be presented at the Education Division's 2012 ASQ Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference held at UW-Stout July 16-17, 2012.

Founded in 1967 with the mission of bridging the divide between C.P. Snow’s “two cultures” of the sciences and the humanities, Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs College (LBC) is a residential undergraduate college devoted to studying the natural sciences in their historical, philosophical, and social context. LBC is the longest-running program of its kind at a large U.S. research university. Lyman Briggs offers its students the best of both worlds: the close-knit living-learning community of a liberal arts science college and resources and opportunities of a great research university. The faculty—active and accomplished scholars focused on undergraduate education—span the sciences from astrophysics to zoology and also the fields of history, philosophy, and sociology of science (HPS). For almost 45 years, LBC has helped to liberally educate scientists to understand both the fundamental scientific and mathematical context of their disci plines and the societal context of science.

LBC creates a learning environment that helps students develop into high achieving, science graduates. We use research-validated instructional methods to actively engage students in the process of science in introductory science courses and in context of science through our introductory HPS course. Our students then take their upper-level science courses in our partner colleges and continue to gain a better understanding of the nature of science through our upper-level HPS courses. The students finish their program with their capstone senior seminar, an interdisciplinary course that bridges their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and HPS coursework.

We discuss the key components of the LBC model for science education and provide evidence of student learning and engagement. These data identify some of the most impactful aspects of the living-learning community and highlight the important components that should be incorporated into other living-learning models.

Keywords: STEM - Conference Proceedings - Higher Education Brief - Career Development

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