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Developing an Integrated Curriculum in Science for Higher Education

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In the early 1990s James Madison University embarked on the creation of a new college of science. All aspects of the new college were to be constructed from basic beginnings: a provost would be hired to design and lead the development plan, all buildings were to be designed and built as needed, faculty would be hired and student recruitment initiated. The teaching approaches would be consistent with the national calls for teaching reform in science and engineering, and the curriculum would be specifically designed to meet the needs of the 21st century. The college was named the College of Integrated Science and Technology, and the new, innovative program that would be the college's flagship program was called the Integrated Science and Technology Program (ISAT). It was decided early that information and knowledge management would be a unifying glue for the curriculum, which would be aimed 'at educating science generalists. Because the acquisition of information and creation of knowledge pervades the practice of science and the creation of technology, information and knowledge management skills and tools would be at the heart of the program. After all, information and knowledge, and the digital technologies that manipulate them, are crucial factors in the economy and should be central to the ISAT program. This article focuses on the creation of the curriculum of this new program that was largely done on an ad hoc basis, but with a highly motivated group of interdisciplinary faculty. The process for developing the curriculum was defined, often by hit-and-miss techniques, the goals and objectives were articulated, and the curriculum and courses were produced. But the development process emerged as the basic key to effectively creating the curriculum. It was a process that called for iteration and correction of faults as the program unfolded. Finally, an unexpected by-product was the spontaneous creation of a unique culture among the faculty, staff, and students. This turned out to be a sustaining force and an essential ingredient for success for the enterprise.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1998-06-01

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  • Most people learn more from failures than from successes. In information technology management, many lessons have been learned over the years "the hard way" through failed implementations, poor management practices, technology limitations, and the like. Failure & Lessons Learned in Information Technology Management is devoted to addressing failures of and lessons learned from information technology projects in business, universities, government, and the military that did not succeed due to technology, management, organizational, social, cultural, and other issues. The goal is to learn from these cases and understand the basis of decisions made in order to not recreate the same mistakes or "reinvent the wheel." The organizational names in the articles can be protected by using pseudonyms.
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