February 14, 2011

JHU launches certificate in biotechnology education

This summer, The Johns Hopkins University will begin offering a unique graduate certificate in the field of bioscience education to address a national shortage of teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, often referred to as STEM.

The new 20-credit graduate certificate in biotechnology education was created through a partnership between Johns Hopkins’ schools of Education and Arts and Sciences to address the fact that, as President Barack Obama said in his Jan. 25 State of the Union address, “the quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations.” The president added, “Over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math.”

With instruction by faculty from both the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education, students in the certificate program will develop ways to teach bioscience effectively in their middle and high school classrooms.

Patrick Cummings, director of the Center for Biotechnology Education at Johns Hopkins and program director of the university’s Biotechnology program, said that there is no other program in the state that provides biotechnology training integrated with educational pedagogy. “Maryland has the fifth-largest biotechnology sector in the nation, [and] that requires a trained workforce,” Cummings said. “We want to develop the pipeline that begins in middle and high schools, where students first learn about bioscience.”

Carolyn Parker, assistant professor in the School of Education’s Department of Teacher Preparation, said, “The certificate is designed to emphasize inquiry-oriented approaches and integrate technology into bioscience. By integrating science content with pedagogy, this certificate creates unique new professional development opportunities for secondary science teachers interested in the biosciences.”

Students can proceed through the program at their own pace, although most can expect to complete it within 15 months. Most courses will be offered in traditional classrooms or online, and students can choose either option as they proceed through the program. All participants are required to attend Johns Hopkins for a hands-on lab course residency, which will take place during the summer semester.

Scholarship money is available from a gift provided by Becton Dickinson, which, through its Diagnostic Systems unit based in Sparks, Md., has joined Johns Hopkins as a partner in this effort. A leading global medical technology company that develops, manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagents, Becton Dickinson is donating scientific equipment, the expertise of its researchers and other support to the project.

According to Cummings, the company is involved as part of its core purpose of helping all people live healthy lives. “BD believes that upgrading the life sciences skills of our teachers and their students is critical to its purpose and encourages other life sciences companies in Maryland to join us in this effort,” Cummings said.

As part of the curriculum, teachers enrolled in the certificate program will have hands-on training in applied life sciences and diagnostic applications at the Becton Dickinson campus in Sparks, where some of the company’s scientists will serve as tutors.

For more information about the certificate or how to apply, contact the School of Education at 877-JHU-SOE1 or soe.info@jhu.edu; to participate in an online information session on March 1, go to www