Re-Imagining Specialized STEM Academies: Igniting and Nurturing ‘Decidedly Different Minds,’ by Design

Stephanie Pace Marshall, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy


This article offers a personal vision and conceptual design for reimagining specialized science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academies designed to nurture decidedly different STEM minds and ignite a new generation of global STEM talent, innovation, and entrepreneurial leadership. This design enables students to engage actively in the authentic work, modes of inquiry, and practices that distinguish four STEM learning cultures, environments, and communities: (a) Inquiry and Research Laboratory and Interdisciplinary Learning Center—develops disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based thinking; (b) Innovation Incubator and Design Studio—ignites innovative and design-based thinking; (c) Global Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Institute—nurtures change leadership and systems-based thinking; and (d) Leadership, Innovation and Knowledge (LINNK) Commons—connects the knowledge, innovation, leadership resources, and networks of the global STEM commons to collaboratively solve complex problems that advance both the new STEM frontier and the human future.