The Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs Endowment Fund (BETHA)
For more than 50 years, The Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute have been partners in creating new opportunities for our communities.
Since its first recorded gift to Ohio State in 1954, Battelle’s commitment to this institution has enabled Ohio State to accelerate its research in fields as diverse as medicine, engineering, and contemporary public policy. Battelle’s generosity has also provided new opportunities for meritorious OSU students; broadened the outreach of the WOSU stations; and promoted the exhibition of art at the Wexner Center.
The Office of Research is honored to be among the beneficiaries of that generosity. The university’s official description of the Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs Endowment Fund, administered by the Office of Research, sets forth its primary goal. The activities made possible by the new fund, according to that description, should “influence future leaders so that scientists and engineers become more sensitive to social needs, and so that others gain a better comprehension of the capabilities and limitations of science and technology.”
Accordingly, since its inauguration in 1977 as the Battelle Endowment Program for Technology and Human Affairs, the program has enabled Ohio State to bring fresh understandings to the impact of science and technology on individuals and society. Participants in the program’s initiatives have numbered in the thousands—including Ohio State faculty, staff, and students; Battelle colleagues; specially invited international luminaries; and members of the central Ohio community.
For the first ten years of its existence, the program provided for a major symposium as well as seminars and other smaller meetings on a general topic intended to illuminate the intersections of science and technology with the quality of life in the contemporary world. A hallmark of the early symposia and related activities was their broad interdisciplinarity. The inaugural Battelle Endowment symposium, whose focus was “Energy, Environment, and Our Society,” included a professor of economics from the University of Colorado who, at the time, was also the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the vice president for science and technology at Exxon Corporation (now, ExxonMobil); the dean emeritus of the John F. Kennedy School of Government; the chief economist of the Atlantic Richfield Company; the former ambassador to Saudi Arabia; and the president of the National Audubon Society. The complementary faculty seminars were no less comprehensive and included representatives from such diverse disciplines as law, agricultural economics, sociology, nuclear engineering, philosophy, economics, public administration, history, zoology, and political science.
Since those earliest days, the program format has changed, though its focus remains unchanged. In 2012, the program administration moved from the Office of Academic Affairs to the Office of Research, and at Battelle's request the fund was renamed the Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs Endowment Fund. Today, through an annual grant competition, the Battelle Endowment supports such initiatives as public lectures, art exhibits, workshops, and interactive computer projects that examine the complex relationship between science and technology and the needs and aspirations of individuals and society. Over the course of the 30-year Battelle-Ohio State partnership, the Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs Endowment Fund has enabled our institution to provide well over $3 million to bring innovative projects such as these to our constituencies.
This considerable investment is testimony to Battelle’s confidence in Ohio State’s ability to make a difference. It also symbolizes its desire to join us in doing so.
To read about just a few of the differences made possible by Battelle Endowment-funded programs, click on the program names below.
Technology, Culture, and Development in the Third World: Examples and Lessons from Africa (1990-91)
A generous grant from the Battelle Endowment made it possible for the Center for African Studies to host its 1991 Annual Symposium. Titled Technology, Culture and Development in the Third World: Examples and Lessons from Africa, the symposium brought approximately 300 scholars from throughout the United States, Africa, Asia, and Europe to the OSU campus to discuss the future of Africa. Among those present for the occasion were some of the world's leading Africanists, including Professors Ali Mazrui of the State University of New York in Binghamton, Adebayo Adedeji of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Peter Schmidt of the University of Florida, Paul Colier of the University of Oxford, Frank Ukoli of the University of Ibadan, Paulin Hountondji of the University of Benin, Claude Ake of the Bookings Institution, and Ngozi Owella of the World Bank.
Moreover, because this symposium figured prominently in the Center for African Studies’ Title VI application for a Title VI National Resource Centre grant, the BETHA grant contributed indirectly to the success of the application, the Center’s first, in the 1994/95-1996/97 cycle. In that competition, the Center, along with its partner at Ohio University, was designated a National Resource Center by the United States Department of Education and was awarded a grant of more than $900,000 during the three-year grant period. These funds underwrote the addition of new instructional personnel, new courses to the curriculum, books on Africa for the Thompson Library, fellowships for graduate students interested in studying African languages, and professional travel by members of the faculty.
The Title VI award contributed greatly to the development and enhancement of African Studies on the OSU campus. The grant from the Battelle Endowment was instrumental to the Center’s receipt of that award.
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Wonders of Our World: W.O.W. (1999-2000)
Now in its 8th year of operation, the Wonders of Our World: W.O.W. Program was designed to improve elementary school science programs. BETHA support in W.O.W.’s 2nd and 3rd years was key to its success.
W.O.W. teaches basic science concepts through hands-on, elementary level experiments. At least six professional development workshops, for which the teachers receive CEU credit, are presented during the year. All of the W.O.W. lesson plans and resources for teachers and volunteers are available on its web site, http://www.wow.osu.edu. After the workshops, teachers choose the experiments they would like W.O.W. to bring into their classrooms.
The W.O.W. structure involves one lead scientist and a team of scientist volunteers for each school. The lead scientist coordinates the projects and the volunteers assist with the classroom experiments. Volunteers typically spend 45-60 minutes in a classroom six times each year helping the teachers implement the hands-on experiments and providing the students with one-on-one assistance. The W.O.W. program pledges to work with a given elementary school for a period of three years (assuming funding remains available for the program). With this structure, all of the science topics that need to be addressed in the local elementary schools are addressed in the professional development workshop and in the W.O.W. experiments.
As a result of the W.O.W. program, student scores on Ohio Science Proficiency Test Scores have improved by 30-40 % on average, though some schools have had improvements of more than 300%. Nearly all teachers agreed that W.O.W. gave them ideas on how to effectively present science concepts to their students, improved their understanding of science concepts, and increased their use of inquiry learning.
The W.O.W. web page has over 150,000 hits per month, and there have been inquiries from teachers, extension agents, and scientists from across the U.S. and from Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan. Starting in 2005, W.O.W. expanded to Muskingum College and, through its Department of Chemistry, brings volunteers and W.O.W. experiments to elementary schools in rural Muskingum County.
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Connecting People, Education, Service, and Quality of Life: The Professional Service Coordinator Certificate Program (2003-04)
Today, millions of older adults, at-risk families, and disabled individuals live in affordable housing across our nation. Service Coordinators are the social service professionals who are responsible for assuring that residents in affordable housing are linked to the specific supportive services they need, such as homemaking, meals, transportation, home management activities, assistance with Medicare and Medicaid submissions, home health care, and preventive health programs.
With BETHA support, the Professional Service Coordinator Certificate Program has established a common body of knowledge, standards of practice, and an elevated level of professionalism for the field of Service Coordination. Upon completion of the program, candidates receive the designation of Professional Service Coordinator from the American Association of Service Coordinators.
The program’s on-line curriculum, developed by both faculty from Ohio State and service providers in the field of aging and social services from around the state and country, is available at http://aasc.osu.edu. Participants represent every state in the nation and are associated with housing providers funded by government, charitable, for-profit, and non-profit organizations across the country. Since October 2005, over 150 Service Coordinators have completed the Comprehensive Examination.
The Professional Service Coordinator Certificate Program has become a core part of the operations of the Office of Geriatrics and Gerontology and is self-sufficient. Because of its BETHA grant, we are pursing an opportunity to extend the program. A Family Service Coordinator Certificate Program now being developed will provide discipline-specific education for service coordinators serving low-income families.
In addition, Battelle funding and the success of the Professional Service Coordinator Certificate Program have allowed the Office Geriatrics and Gerontology to further numerous professional relationships, within the OSU community and across the wider community. It has also allowed the Office to enhance its provision of quality distance education programming in aging.
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Establishing the Foundations of Scientific Literacy (2003-04)
A BETHA award enabled Ohio State’s Center for Life Sciences Education to pilot the use of the New York Times in high school science classes, demonstrating the relevancy of course subject matter in the lives of students and helping to align high school lessons in genetics with those in college.
This BETHA-supported outreach is an extension of a successful approach used for some years in Ohio State biology classes for non-majors. For example, students might read Times articles on “pre-implantation diagnosis” of newly fertilized human eggs as a way of better understanding genetic dominance and recessiveness in “simple” Mendelian traits. Students also learn that such articles often assume an understanding of basic concepts of this sort. Though these particular Times articles deal with rare genetic conditions in humans, the genetics behind these conditions are the same as the “textbook” examples of genetic systems, i.e. the purple (dominant) versus white (recessive) states of garden pea plant flowers. Times articles on such identical genetic processes and predictability in humans illustrate relevancy, generate interest, and reinforce the understanding of the processes and their universality in the living world.
With BETHA funding, this approach was disseminated to nearly 500 students in both suburban and urban high schools. Teachers working with the Center for Life Sciences Education were able to assure their students that these kinds of applications, i.e. New York Times readings, would be relevant and even expected in college science classes.
As a result of this preliminary work, two separate grants are now pending at the National Science Foundation for a total of almost $2,5000,000. The NSF support, if awarded, will permit a substantial expansion of this kind of high school-college alignment of science curricula using the common medium of a national newspaper.
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Engineers for Community Service: Model Programs for Development of a Profession (2004-05)
Thanks to BETHA funding, an Ohio State student volunteer organization has been able to broaden is efforts and expand their impact. Established in 2004, Engineers for Community Service (ECOS http://www.ecos.osu.edu/) puts engineering skills to use for the community. The members of ECOS learn skills vital to professional development while reaching out to those in need.
BETHA support enabled ECOS to create two model programs: “Building Bridges Over the Digital Divide for Children” to deploy computer technology for under-privileged children and use engineering students to teach them how to use the technology; and the “Sustainable Campus Initiative” to improve the sustainability of campus operations.
The first of these model programs provided for ECOS participants to travel to Montaña de Luz HIV/AIDS Orphanage in Honduras during the 2005 spring break. There, they completed work begun the previous year, which included the updating of electrical systems, setting up computers for the children’s education, and assessing drinking water and sanitation issues. In a follow-up trip during spring break 2006, the ECOS team repaired existing computers and fitted out new computers with educational software. The team also confronted problems with drinking water contamination and further improved the electrical supply.
The service-learning based Green Campus Program, the second of the model programs funded by BETHA, allows ECOS students to work with personnel from OSU Physical Facilities on projects that make campus operations more sustainable. Major initiatives to date include working with Physical Facilities and the Center for Resilience on ways to optimize material use and solid waste disposal on campus, and assisting Physical Facilities in performing building energy audits and making recommendations for energy conservation. Other project themes are transportation, water use and conservation, air pollution, and hazardous waste.
The BETHA award that led to the establishment of these programs thus helps foster professionalism and a spirit of pro bono service to society.
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Global Climate Change: What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know? (2005-06)
BETHA support has enabled colleagues in the Byrd Polar Research Center to engage the public with its research on global climate change.
Though some components of this BETHA project are still in the planning stages, events to date include hosting a group of teens, accompanied by an adult, for a day-long session about the research contributions of the scientists at the Byrd Polar Research Center, especially how the scientists gather, analyze, and display data about global climate change.
An ancillary website aimed at the general public and student populations is being developed to make climate change research more available to the public.
An upcoming event will focus on the technologies in use, and a series of three evening forums will engage the public with policy issues relative to global climate change.
Although this BETHA project will run through spring 2007, a number of positive outcomes have already become clear. One of its primary impacts has been the increased visibility of the scientific contributions being made by researchers at the Byrd Polar Research Center and the resulting interactions with other community members who share an interest in the future relative to global climate change. For example, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has invited Center colleagues to collaborate in developing the education component of their new Polar Frontier exhibit (scheduled to open in 2008). A primary intended impact has been attracting genuinely interested individuals whose input informs our internal and external education and outreach efforts. An unintended impact has been a shift in orientation toward content areas (such as sea level rise), in addition to our more established research group structure at the Center.
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Composing in a New Key: How Multimodality Shapes Teaching and Learning (2005-06)
BETHA funding for "Composing in a New Key: How Multimodality Shapes Teaching and Learning" will support a study of the impact of teaching secondary students to compose digitally with computers in multiple modalities in English language arts classrooms.
This project uses an approach in which serious attention is given to the multiplicity of modes of computer-based communication (images, sounds, music, and movement) that are active in a classroom. With a research team’s support, three English language arts teachers are providing their students with new and more powerful ways of communicating their ideas and experiences to a range of audiences. Although still in its early stages, it is clear that this project has created a wonderful opportunity to explore the possibilities of digital media and its possible impact on writing and reading instruction.
The virtues of multimodal composing has been widely extolled of late, yet little empirical work has been done in this area. The BETHA grant will permit a systematic study of how such composing may impact how teachers conceptualize English language arts instruction and how and what students learn about course content and about digital composing. With digital technologies, students have increasing capacity to adapt these tools for their own information and communication purposes. They also have the capability to apply literacy skills to real world problems and knowledge building. This project intends to contribute to understanding how such promises can be accomplished.