Pathways to stem cell science is an industry-based 501(c)(3) organization, working to address the following problem:
We have identified three critical features that are lacking in traditional bioscience education programs: real-world context, career education and equal opportunities.
Bioscience is an applied subject that should be taught hands-on, using practical methods that follow authentic scientific processes. Learning science as a series of disconnected theories, taught in lecture-based courses as stand-alone units of abstract knowledge, fails to fully prepare students for the cross-disciplinary nature of real-life science. Without experiencing real-world context, many students find science difficult to understand or irrelevant to their daily lives. These issues ultimately deter them from succeeding in science education or pursuing science careers. Despite the obvious necessity for real-world learning, most schools and colleges continue to impart “text book” knowledge using predominately theoretical teaching methods.
Our courses, set in an operating biotech lab, engage students in applied scientific learning that simulates real-life activities. Teaching science within this context provides the relevance many students need to understand scientific concepts and find science interesting. Real-life science i) enables students to develop essential science skills such as critical thinking, troubleshooting and ingenuity, ii) informs students about science careers and enables them to picture themselves as future scientists, and iii) provides the hands-on skills and professional experiences needed to thrive in education and employment.
Few students and academic advisors are aware of the wide array of biosciences industry careers that exist outside of medicine or academic research. Without proper career guidance, students are forced to make major life decisions, unaware of the career options that exist or the skills, experiences and education that are needed for professional bioscience careers. The effects of this problem are seen most clearly in college, leading to late graduation, excessive student debt, delayed entry into the workforce and lost opportunities for professional development.
Through our commitment to professional mentoring and our broad network of bioscience industry mentors, we are able to guide students to professions that match their interests and aptitudes. Unlike other programs, we also help students to develop viable career plans based on a realistic assessment of the time, complexity and training that goes into a given bioscience profession.
The biosciences industry is a major driver of medical innovation and economic prosperity in western countries like the United States. In recent years, bioscience jobs have grown at more than twice the rate of non-STEM jobs, a trend expected to continue through the coming decade. On average, bioscience workers earn higher wages than non-STEM workers and ethnic and gender wage disparities are smaller in bioscience careers than in non-STEM careers. Therefore, bioscience education and employment are important vehicles for socioeconomically disadvantaged students to enter the middle classes and forge better lives. However, students from disadvantage backgrounds rarely seize this opportunity because they lack access to even basic science or career education. This problem has serious consequences for not only individuals but also society, which requires a well-trained bioscience workforce composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds to remain competitive.
At Pathways to Stem Cell Science we are working to address these issues by providing the hands-on skills, career knowledge and professional experiences needed to pursue professional bioscience careers. We also support students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, providing opportunities for fee paying students and scholarships for the traditionally underserved.