Neuroscience Workforce Development Project
College of Liberal Arts and the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture faculty are jointly developing a new second-year introduction to neuroscience course. The first semester of this course focuses on basic physiological processes, such has now neurons work. The second semester focuses on the broader systems of the brain; for example, how memories are formed and processed. Faculty teach major concepts in the classroom and provide training on related techniques in active learning laboratory-based environments. This new neuroscience workforce initiative provides students with active and interdisciplinary learning experiences in the neurosciences that do not currently exist. Our interdisciplinary laboratory courses provide skills training in line with that sought by employers including: 1) how to be self-guided learners, 2) how to work as a team, 3) how to be active learners capable of critically analyzing information, 4) science literacy, 4) confidence in learning new, challenging techniques and, 5) excellent oral and written communication skills. The market for neuroscience is increasing rapidly.
A second objective of the workforce training initiative is reaching out to primary and secondary education schools throughout New Hampshire (K-12). Teams of researchers and students in the neurosciences will travel to schools throughout New Hampshire and interact with students about neuroscience. Specifically, age-appropriate (K-12) neuroscience modules are being developed by our interdisciplinary team on a wide range of topics (e.g., parts of the brain, brain disorders, memory, brain activity). Rotating members from the team will then travel to schools throughout the state to engage students with the learning modules and also promote STEM at UNH.
Additionally Dr. Don Robin, a new neuroscience faculty member in the College of Heath and Humans Services, will explore the relationship between music and neuroscience at UNH. Robin is an accomplished jazz musician and has already made contact with faculty in the Music Department. Part of this outreach will be to show how the brain and our behavior can change for the better when we participate in rich liberal-arts activities, like playing music, that engage the brain. The enrichment program will pair faculty from the art and music departments with faculty involved in human neuroscience to provide an educational experience for children and adolescence in school systems in New Hampshire, ultimately helping districts develop their own programs. Robin has already developed and tested this model in San Antonio, Texas by working with artists Andy Benevides and Megan Harrison and world class jazz musicians in New York (Anne Drummond, Lew Soloff). The enrichment program for children was a great success and the group also taught courses at the University level (pairing students from art programs and neuroscience students) to learn about their brains, develop a creative project together and to write chapters in for a book on art and neuroscience. Robin has presented at and helped other institutions begin the process of developing such programs for communities in Florida and New York.