IBE and Steenbock launch project to create biology community and learning center

The Institute for Biology Education (IBE) and Steenbock Library have launched a joint Educational Innovation project to create a biology community and learning center for bioscience students across campus. The center will be a welcoming home base where students can connect with each other, as well as a central gateway to the biosciences where they can find information, get engaged in high-impact learning experiences, access support services, and integrate their experiences into a meaningful whole. The center will offer programming and services to all bioscience students across campus, including specialized programming to meet the needs of first-year, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students.

The physical location of the center will be at Steenbock Library. There will also be an online presence, both for information and community building. “Steenbock is a terrific partner for community building,” says IBE interim director Janet Branchaw. “Not only do they have wonderful facilities, but they also share our cross-campus vision and our student-centered approach. We both want to bring people together and make information and opportunities more accessible.

Preliminary plans for the community and learning center emerged from a series of cross-campus conversations focused on connecting bioscience students with beyond-the-classroom learning experiences like leadership, public service, research, and international study. The basic framework of the community and learning center project was outlined by a cross-campus committee, and now broader input is sought to move the project into its next phase. Two Town Hall meetings have been scheduled to gather feedback from the UW–Madison community:

  • November 19, 1:00-2:30 p.m. in Bascom Hall Room 260
  • December 11, 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Steenbock Library

To RSVP for either town hall event (recommended, not required), email

The center is envisioned as an endeavor that will benefit everyone involved. Steenbock Library interim director Lisa Wettleson is excited about how the project will enhance Steenbock’s ability to serve students into the future. “We are delighted to join the growing number of UW–Madison libraries that are partnering to create innovative learning spaces like this in response to student needs in a world of rapid change.”

The center will incorporate existing services and programming from Steenbock and the IBE. It will also serve as a potential satellite location for programs from around campus. The plan is to build networks of faculty and staff to develop campus-wide programs in order to facilitate communication, efficiency and collaborative innovation.

For more information, download this three-page PDF describing the project.