The intervention-based education model does not serve the needs and aspirations of the increasingly diverse students, faculty and staff. It is hoped that a shift from production to emergence will allow all to thrive, where thriving is defined as students’ success and faculty and staff vibrancy.

Using an ecosystem as the philosophical guide will promote an organic and healthy environment that nurtures students, faculty, and staff to become individuals fulfilled professionally and personally.


The Need for Change

We need an educational system that values diversity, so all individuals can reach their full potential and thrive. We propose a shift in paradigm moving away from the idea that students are not "college-ready" and instead create colleges that are "student-ready".


Eco-STEM is the culmination of many years researching strategies to promote student success. Intervention strategies have positively impacted individuals but have not led to the system-wide transformational changes that are needed to support all students.

Execution & Evaluation

We believe a collective impact approach is needed to create the conditions for a thriving ecosystem. We are currently developing the structure for communities of practices that will bring together faculty and university leadership to rethink educational practice and university policies in ways that are aligned with the asset-based ecosystem model.


Transforming STEM Education using an Ecosystem model

The overarching goal of the project is to create a supportive and culturally responsive learning and working environment for all members of our community that utilizes their assets to enhance motivation, excellence, and success, thus making teaching and learning rewarding and fulfilling experiences.


Creating a supportive and culturally responsive learning/working environment for all members of our community



Facilitating the learning process, and making teaching and learning rewarding and fulfilling experiences



Engaging in learning while emphasizing assets of our community to enhance motivation, excellence and success


Guided by ecosystem paradigm measures, the project activities include:

1ART Fellows Community of Practice
The Action Research Teaching (ART) Fellows Community of Practice will focus on sharing knowledge, learning about inclusive teaching practices, reflecting on personal teaching experiences, and designing and implementing an Action Research Project to propose and study changes in undergraduate STEM education.
The leadership Community of Practice (CoP) constists of of department chairs, program directors, and course coordinators who will facilitate culture change at the department/program level.
Prepare future facilitators that lead change workshops to sustain, update and expand the ART Fellows CoP.
Align teaching evaluations to asset-based learner-centered pedagogy to sustain cultural change.

Eco-STEM Team

The project is led by a team with diverse expertise in disciplinary pedagogies, faculty development, cultural assets, and organizational change.

Gustavo Menezes
Professor of Civil Enginering. Project Director, overviewing administrative functions and implementation of project activities and research.
Gustavo Menezes
Professor of Electrical Engr. and Assoc. Dean. Co-leading development of tools for evaluating asset-based teaching.
Jane Dong
Postdoctoral Researcher. Supporting the implementation of project activities and research.
Corey Bowen
Nancy Warter-Perez
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Chair of Mechanical Engineering. Co-leading development and implementation of CoPs.
Nancy Warter-Perez
Professor in Ind. and Manufacturing Engr. at Cal Poly SLO. Project lead-researcher developing tools/activities to evaluate project impact.
Lizabeth Thompson
Daniel Galvan
Director of Acceleration Initiatives. Co-leading development of CoPs in the areas of cultural wealth and asset-based strategies.
Daniel Gálvan
Professor of Mathematics. Co-leading development of tools and strategies for evaluating asset-based student-centered teaching
Silvia Heubach
Professor of Mathematics. Co-leading development and implementation of CoPs
José Mijares
Founder and Director of Research & Evaluation at STEMEVAL. External Evaluator of the ECO-STEM project
Eva Schiorring

Get In Touch

Eco-STEM Project Team

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DUE-2013630. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.