The task of developing educational materials that foster interdisciplinary integration is especially challenging for undergraduate colleges where the teaching load is so high that faculty find it difficult to keep up with new developments in their own fields, let alone in new discipline-spanning fields such as integrative systems biology. The goal of this project is to create fully comprehensive educational materials that will help faculty nationwide enter the field of integrative systems biology, educate students, and engage them in interdisciplinary systems-based biological research. By developing the proposed materials, the project will lay the foundation for educating current and future teachers, including postdoctoral fellows and young scientists. This strategy is anticipated to have an enormous multiplier effect and will empower instructors who might otherwise not be able to engage in the transdisciplinary field of integrative systems biology.
There is a pressing need for educational materials in the new field of integrative systems biology, in particular at undergraduate colleges where faculty have little time to develop new courses that require knowledge of several distinct parent disciplines. The materials to be developed consist of lecture slides, projects, exercises, homework problems, solutions, background materials, computer code in different languages, and other materials that simplify the development of integrative systems biology courses for faculty that come from different fields of STEM education. The proposed materials will be developed and alpha-tested at Georgia Institute of Technology. Subsequent beta-testing will occur at Spelman College, historically known as a minority institution that primarily caters to female students from underrepresented groups. Subsequently the teaching modules will be further tested at other colleges.