National Publication Cites Contributions by UW's Science Posse

June 12, 2008
Woman teaching students
Liz Flaherty of Cheyenne works with school children at the Tibetan Children's Villages in northern India.

Contributions by graduate students in the University of Wyoming's Science Posse are cited in a new national publication on the benefits of a graduate education.

"Graduate Education and the Public Good" is published by the Council of Graduate Schools, (CGS) the national organization that represents the vast majority of graduate schools in the United States, says Don Roth, UW Graduate School dean and chair of the CGS government relations committee.

He says the publication was provided to every member of Congress and to many in private industry to showcase how graduate education contributes to the nation's well-being.

"When discussing ways that graduate education contributes to public good, it's important to emphasize that graduate students are a tremendous university and state resource. For example, graduate students serve as great models to encourage students, particularly seventh through 12th graders, to further their education," Roth says. "By sharing their enthusiasm about their research, these Science Posse students instill excitement about science among teachers and students."

The Science Posse, he says, is a group of UW graduate students that travels the state to raise awareness and understanding of science among middle- and high-school students. The program is funded by the UW Graduate School through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

There are a great deal of data demonstrating how graduate education benefits individuals' earnings and personal gain during their lifetimes, but Roth says this document also emphasizes that graduate education is vital for national and international prosperity and advancement. Many of the nation's and world's leaders have received graduate education in the United States in a variety of fields including science, mathematics, humanities, arts and social sciences.

Many benefits of graduate education are intangibles and go beyond economic prosperity. In many different areas, from crime to health, to public service activities, and contributing to the general prosperity of the country, U.S. masters and doctoral graduates contribute an enormous amount that goes far beyond their numbers, Roth says.

"Their involvement in crime is much less and their health is generally better than that of the general public, and they contribute to the democratic process in ways that are critically important to our quality of life and the cultural and social fabric of society," he says.

"Graduate Education and the Public Good" also incorporates stories of people with graduate degrees from U.S. universities who have made important contributions at the local, state and national levels. It concludes with a call for a renewed "social contract" between universities and the public that recognizes the special role graduation plays in enhancing our quality of life.

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