Session L4: Why We Should Double the Number of Undergraduate Degrees in Physics
Ted Hodapp, APS
Ted Hodapp, American Physical Society
Leading off, Ted Hodapp, Director of Education and Diversity for the American Physical Society presented data on the significant needs in the community including workforce needs in high school teachers, nuclear industry and medical physics. In addition, demographics of women and minorities in physics show that to bring these groups on par with the majority will require increasing their participation by at least a factor of two. Ted also briefly described current efforts toward addressing this situation including participating in the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (www.PTEC.org), adopting recommendations from the SPIN-UP report (www.aapt.org/Projects/ntfup.cfm), and considering issues of "climate" in departments that impact participation of under-represented groups.
Robert Hilborn, University of Texas, Dallas
Bob Hilborn spoke next with a review of SPIN-UP (Strategic Programs in Undergraduate Physics). This report, a result of a national task force that studied decreasing enrollments in physics, compiled case studies from direct site visits with institutions that were bucking the trend. Bob also provided a more informal follow up with institutions like the University of Washington that have significantly increased their production of undergraduate physics majors and found that typically these institutions haveimplementedmany of the SPIN-UP recommendations.
David Boulware, University of Washington
David Boulware, chair of the University of Washington's physics department completed the set of talks by relating how his department has managed to rise to near the top of the list of departments that produce physics majors. Although he downplayed an "active" transformation, it was clear that the department pays particular attention to the introductory courses through the advances of their physics education group led by Lillian McDermott, and espouses good connections with their undergraduates in a wide variety of ways from alternative degree "tracks" to social connections.