Letter from the Chair

Published October 11, 2022
Jim Kisiel

Welcome back to campus!

As I returned to the CSULB campus this past August, I found myself energized by the crowds of students (and staff and faculty) making their way across campus. Sure, there was plenty of traffic on local streets and lots, as people figured out drop-offs and parking options after more than 2 years of a closed (or dramatically reduced capacity) campus. That part was less exciting.

But I think the exhilaration that I felt that late summer morning was more about the idea that we had made it back, had returned to something approximating the normal routines of the ‘before times’, and that we could re-establish our momentum as teachers and learners within a large and supportive community.

This is certainly a challenging time for science and science education. In local classrooms, teachers (including many of our graduate students and credential alums) are working hard to help students recover from 2 years of disrupted learning. These youth are not quite the same as those entering the classroom in Fall 2019; they require support—both emotionally and cognitively—in ways that many practicing teachers have not seen before.

Those educators working in out-of-school settings, like museums and aquariums, have also faced a tough few years, with many forced to recreate hands-on science experiences as virtual science programming that could reach youth and family visitors who found themselves stuck at home. Although these unique science learning venues are now reopening, the pandemic had left its mark, forcing many informal science educators to find new jobs (or careers) due to layoffs spurred by months of institutional closures.

On top of all this, the rise of anti-science sentiment now challenges us to be more explicit as to what science can do (and what it can't) and be more thoughtful about how science is conveyed to a weary public.

Which brings me back to the image of a now-bustling campus. It reminds us that we have the resilience and capacity to continue our mission of supporting learners—in K-12 schools, in museums, in our credential and graduate programs—as they make sense of the natural world or teach others to do so. We have a rocky road ahead, but I think we’re up for the challenge.

Finally, I am humbled by the opportunity, and responsibility, to support 6 faculty members, 20+ adjunct/part time instructors, 2 staff members, 3 student assistants and hundreds of undergraduate, post-bac, and graduate students who engage with the CSULB Science Education Department through a variety of courses, activities, and advising. Our department helps bridge gaps between the disciplines of science and education, supporting future science teachers, undergraduate STEM majors, as well as those currently teaching science within the classroom and beyond.

With the worst of the pandemic behind us (fingers crossed), we also look forward to reconnecting with the Long Beach and greater Los Angeles communities in ways that allow CSULB students to engage with K-12 youth and support both groups as they continue developing awareness and understanding of science, as well as its relevance to communities in which they live.

Here's to the promise of a new school year!

Jim Kisiel
Chair and Professor
Department of Science Education
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
CSU Long Beach