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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
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BHEW is conducting analyses and crafting state and federal policy recommendations aimed at increasing the quality of higher education across the U.S., with a particular focus on helping prepare the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologically-savvy workers who can contribute to our 21st century economy and also enhance our societal well-being. College is becoming less affordable and less accessible for larger segments of our population—a trend that must be reversed if we are to meet the nation’s social, economic and cultural challenges. BHEW is examining strategies for:
  • increasing state and federal investments in higher education
  • raising productivity and efficiency on our campuses
  • closing the equity gap, and increasing the quality of STEM education and training in 2-year, 4-year and research institutions.
The careers of the 21st century require highly skilled workers with strong technical knowledge and skills as well as the ability to solve problems, think creatively, work collaboratively and function as lifelong learners.

BHEW is outlining strategies for better aligning higher education programs and curricula—at all levels, from 2-year colleges to doctoral programs—with regional and national workforce needs in order to prepare students for career success.
Upcoming Events Calendar 2019

Our Publications


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Minority Serving Institutions: America's Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce (2018)
There are over 20 million young people of color in the United States whose representation in STEM education pathways and in the STEM workforce is still far below their numbers in the general population. Their participation could help re-establish the United States’ preeminence in STEM innovation and productivity, while also increasing the number of well-educated STEM workers.There are nearly 700 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that provide pathways to STEM educational success and workforce readiness for millions of students of color—and do so in a mission-driven and intentional manner. They vary substantially in their origins, missions, student demographics, and levels of institutional selectivity. But in general, their service to the nation provides a gateway to higher education and the workforce, particularly for underrepresented students of color and those from low-income and first-generation to college backgrounds. The challenge for the nation is how to capitalize on the unique strengths and attributes of these institutions and to equip them with the resources, exceptional faculty talent, and vital infrastructure needed to educate and train an increasingly critical portion of current and future generations of scientists, engineers, and health professionals.

Minority Serving Institutions examines the nation’s MSIs and identifies promising programs and effective strategies that have the highest potential return on investment for the nation by increasing the quantity and quality MSI STEM graduates. This study also provides critical information and perspective about the importance of MSIs to other stakeholders in the nation’s system of higher education and the organizations that support them.

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Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century (2018) 
The U.S. system of graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has served the nation and its science and engineering enterprise extremely well. Over the course of their education, graduate students become involved in advancing the frontiers of discovery, as well as in making significant contributions to the growth of the U.S. economy, its national security, and the health and well-being of its people. However, continuous, dramatic innovations in research methods and technologies, changes in the nature and availability of work, shifts in demographics, and expansions in the scope of occupations needing STEM expertise raise questions about how well the current STEM graduate education system is meeting the full array of 21st century needs. Indeed, recent surveys of employers and graduates and studies of graduate education suggest that many graduate programs do not adequately prepare students to translate their knowledge into impact in multiple careers.

Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century examines the current state of U.S. graduate STEM education. This report explores how the system might best respond to ongoing developments in the conduct of research on evidence-based teaching practices and in the needs and interests of its students and the broader society it seeks to serve. This will be an essential resource for the primary stakeholders in the U.S. STEM enterprise, including federal and state policymakers, public and private funders, institutions of higher education, their administrators and faculty, leaders in business and industry, and the students the system is intended to educate.

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The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree (2018) 
In the United States, broad study in an array of different disciplines —arts, humanities, science, mathematics, engineering— as well as an in-depth study within a special area of interest, have been defining characteristics of a higher education. But over time, in-depth study in a major discipline has come to dominate the curricula at many institutions. This evolution of the curriculum has been driven, in part, by increasing specialization in the academic disciplines. There is little doubt that disciplinary specialization has helped produce many of the achievement of the past century. Researchers in all academic disciplines have been able to delve more deeply into their areas of expertise, grappling with ever more specialized and fundamental problems.

Yet today, many leaders, scholars, parents, and students are asking whether higher education has moved too far from its integrative tradition towards an approach heavily rooted in disciplinary “silos”. These “silos” represent what many see as an artificial separation of academic disciplines. This study reflects a growing concern that the approach to higher education that favors disciplinary specialization is poorly calibrated to the challenges and opportunities of our time.

The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education examines the evidence behind the assertion that educational programs that mutually integrate learning experiences in the humanities and arts with science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) lead to improved educational and career outcomes for undergraduate and graduate students. It explores evidence regarding the value of integrating more STEMM curricula and labs into the academic programs of students majoring in the humanities and arts and evidence regarding the value of integrating curricula and experiences in the arts and humanities into college and university STEMM education programs.

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The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through (2018) 
Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has developed the world’s preeminent system for biomedical research, one that has given rise to revolutionary medical advances as well as a dynamic and innovative business sector generating high-quality jobs and powering economic output and exports for the U.S. economy. However, there is a growing concern that the biomedical research enterprise is beset by several core challenges that undercut its vitality, promise, and productivity and that could diminish its critical role in the nation’s health and innovation in the biomedical industry.

Among the most salient of these challenges is the gulf between the burgeoning number of scientists qualified to participate in this system as academic researchers and the elusive opportunities to establish long-term research careers in academia. The patchwork of measures to address the challenges facing young scientists that has emerged over the years has allowed the U.S. biomedical enterprise to continue to make significant scientific and medical advances. These measures, however, have not resolved the structural vulnerabilities in the system, and in some cases come at a great opportunity cost for young scientists. These unresolved issues could diminish the nation’s ability to recruit the best minds from all sectors of the U.S. population to careers in biomedical research and raise concerns about a system that may favor increasingly conservative research proposals over high-risk, innovative ideas.

The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through evaluates the factors that influence transitions into independent research careers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and offers recommendations to improve those transitions. These recommendations chart a path to a biomedical research enterprise that is competitive, rigorous, fair, dynamic, and can attract the best minds from across the country.

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Revitalizing the University-Industry-Government Partnership: Creating New Opportunities for the 21st Century: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief (2018) 
Strengthening the long-standing university-industry-government partnership is necessary to safeguard continued American leadership in research and innovation to support America’s prosperity, security, and national goals. On November 15, 2017, more than 300 educators, researchers, business and government leaders, and others gathered for a day-long series of discussions on revitalizing this historical partnership. This publication briefly summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop. 

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Assessing and Responding to the Growth of Computer Science Undergraduate Enrollments (2017) 
The field of computer science (CS) is currently experiencing a surge in undergraduate degree production and course enrollments, which is straining program resources at many institutions and causing concern among faculty and administrators about how best to respond to the rapidly growing demand. There is also significant interest about what this growth will mean for the future of CS programs, the role of computer science in academic institutions, the field as a whole, and U.S. society more broadly.

Assessing and Responding to the Growth of Computer Science Undergraduate Enrollments seeks to provide a better understanding of the current trends in computing enrollments in the context of past trends. It examines drivers of the current enrollment surge, relationships between the surge and current and potential gains in diversity in the field, and the potential impacts of responses to the increased demand for computing in higher education, and it considers the likely effects of those responses on students, faculty, and institutions. This report provides recommendations for what institutions of higher education, government agencies, and the private sector can do to respond to the surge and plan for a strong and sustainable future for the field of CS in general, the health of the institutions of higher education, and the prosperity of the nation.

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Effective Mentoring in STEMM: Practice, Research, and Future Directions: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief (2017) 
Mentoring has long been understood as a beneficial component of academic and professional development. But investigations of the attributes of effective mentoring interactions in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) education are only now starting to shed light on how exactly these complex and dynamic relationships form, evolve, and impact the lives and careers of the current and next generation of STEMM professionals.

To explore the conversation surrounding this highly interdisciplinary field, the Board on Higher Education and Workforce and the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, in collaboration with the Board on Science Education and the Teacher Advisory Council, convened a workshop in Washington D.C. on February 9-10, 2017. Educators, scientists, engineers, industry leaders, and scholars from a wide range of career stages focused on identifying successful practices and metrics for mentoring students in STEMM career pathways. Workshop sessions spanned topics across the mentoring field: definitions, theories, practices, perspectives, evidence, research, identity, and reflection, with a particular emphasis on identifying the evidence supporting successful mentoring practices for women and students of color across high school and postsecondary education. This publication briefly summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

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Quality in the Undergraduate Experience: What Is It? How Is It Measured? Who Decides? Summary of a Workshop (2016)
Students, parents, and government agencies need as much information as possible about the outcomes of the higher education experience and the extent to which they can expect a fair return on their investment in higher education.In order to better understand the concept of quality - enabling students to acquire knowledge in a variety of disciplines and deep knowledge in at least one discipline, as well as to develop a range of skills and habits of mind that prepare them for career success, engaged citizenship, intercultural competence, social responsibility, and continued intellectual growth - an ad hoc planning committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Board on Higher Education and Workforce, with funding from the Lumina Foundation, organized a workshop in Washington, D.C., on December 14-15, 2015.This report summarizes the presentations and discussion of that event.

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Developing a National STEM Workforce Strategy: A Workshop Summary (2016)
On March 7, 2016, under the auspices of a Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) planning committee, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new workshop summary, Developing a National STEM Workforce Strategy: A Workshop Summary.

The workshop summary discusses how the future competitiveness of the United States in an increasingly interconnected global economy depends on the nation fostering a workforce with strong capabilities and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). STEM knowledge and skills enable both individual opportunity and national competitiveness, and the nation needs to develop ways of ensuring access to high-quality education and training experiences for all students at all levels and for all workers at all career stages. Learn more about the workshop.

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Promising Practices for Strengthening the Regional STEM Workforce Development Ecosystem, (2016)
On February 12, 2015, under the auspices of a Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) study committee, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new report, Promising Practices for Strengthening the Regional STEM Workforce Development Ecosystem.

This report summarizes an 18-month study on improving higher education’s responsiveness to regional STEM workforce needs. It was conducted by a project committee under the auspices of BHEW, and was sponsored by The Helmsley Charitable Trust. The report’s primary audiences are business and university leaders, key intermediary organizations such as chambers of commerce and regional economic development groups, and state and local government policy makers. The information, findings, and recommendations focus on promising practices that can enable higher education and business to collaborate in sustainable ways that benefit students, universities, companies, regional economies, and national competitiveness. Learn more about the study.

Sponsors and supporters of BHEW projects and activities include:
• Department of Health and Human Services
• National Endowment for the Arts
• National Endowment for the Humanities
• National Institutes of Health
• National Science Foundation
• Institute for Education Sciences
• Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
• Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
• Burroughs Wellcome Fund
• Elsevier Corporation
• Helmsley Charitable Trust
• Howard Hughes Medical Institute
• Lumina Foundation
• National Math and Science Initiative
• Spencer Foundation

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