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Frontiers of Science Awarded $200,000 Grant From the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

Monday, April 14, 2008

Frontiers of Science, the newest component of the College’s Core Curriculum, has been awarded a $200,000 grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Frontiers of Science, now in its fourth year, is a one-semester course taken by all College students in their first year. It consists of seminars of no more than 22 students per section led by faculty members and Columbia Science Fellows, and lectures delivered by some of Columbia’s leading scientists, including Nobel laureate Horst Stormer and National Medal of Science winner Wallace Broecker. The seminars provide a forum for in-depth discussion of the week’s lecture and associated readings, and debate on the implications of the most recent scientific discoveries.

The Core Curriculum, launched in 1919, is the cornerstone of Columbia’s baccalaureate program and the oldest uninterrupted program of general education in America. The Core provides students, regardless of their major or concentration, with wide-ranging perspectives on significant ideas and achievements in literature, philosophy, history, music, art, and now, science. By exposing students to pressing research questions and instilling a sense of how scientific thinking should inform public debate, Frontiers prepares students for citizenship in a technological age where scientific literacy is essential for success in virtually all careers.

The original Arthur Vining Davis Foundation was organized in 1952 under a living trust established by the donor, and two additional trusts commenced operations in 1965. According to the Foundations’ Web site, “The higher education program seeks to strengthen private four-year liberal arts institutions that place strong emphasis on teaching and whose students choose majors primarily in the humanities, science and math.” In addition, programs seeking grants should “reflect the undergraduate priority of the president” of the applying school, with preference given to “projects with potential to influence undergraduate education beyond the university.”

The grant will support the research conducted by the Fellows (post-doctoral level scientists) who teach in Frontiers of Science.

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