students holding human brain

The OUTREACH component of the COCA has been established to enhance the value that the COCA provides to its members, trainees, scientific community and general population. Through programs, networking, outreach, and information sharing on best practices and innovations in higher education and training, the NARC advances education and research training in neuroscience.

The goals of the OUTREACH component of the COCA are:
1.) To Conduct and Disseminate High-Quality Research and Scholarly Activities
2.) To Engage Communities in Charleston and Beyond through Service, Outreach and Partnerships to Disseminate Scientific Knowledge about Neuroscience and Drugs of Abuse.

In order to accomplish these goals, the OUTREACH component of the NARC has established an elective 1 credit course entitled “Educational and Outreach Teaching” for PhD and MD/PhD Students.

The Educational Outreach and Teaching elective is directed at implementing educational outreach programs in our local community as well as equipping graduate students with tools for teaching at the University level. The goals are to teach graduate students how to effectively plan and execute outreach activities that expose young minds to science and research, how to prepare a syllabus, how to be effective at lecturing and course development, and how to apply for teaching jobs. The course includes a didactic component that will cover event planning, curriculum development, and education grant writing. The other component of the class will involve planning and participating in outreach events at local middle and high schools. Students will develop age-appropriate talks and activities using resources such as Backyard Brain Kits (www.backyardbrains.com) as well as learn more about education funding opportunities and overall teaching career development. This elective is meant to serve as a fun and refreshing opportunity to give back to the community by educating children about all the great work we do as researchers and educators as well provide basic teaching experience for graduate students interested in a teaching career.

Materials: Hand-outs and materials will be provided in class. No textbook required.

Course Objectives: At the end of this course, the learner will be able to:
1) Articulate necessary components of a Syllabus and Teaching Philosophy
2) Prepare a Syllabus and Teaching Philosophy
3) Identify opportunities for education grant funding and careers in teaching
4) Plan an age-appropriate outreach activity
5) Execute an outreach activity in the community

Methods: This course will employ multiple approaches in order to meet the course objectives. Concepts will be presented in lecture format and then further discussed in small groups, student-led presentations and hands-on activities.

The Human Brain is awesome!


Partnership with the University of Puerto Rico

Additionally, in order to fulfill the goals of the outreach component and increase the participation of URMs, the COCA has established a partnership with the University of Puerto Rico. This partnership allows the COCA to disseminate scientific knowledge about neuroscience and drugs of abuse and to attract undergraduate and graduate students and faculties from predominantly URMs populations to the field of substance use disorders.

 COCA has organized two meetings at the Univ. of Puerto Rico. The first one in 2015 and the second one in 2021. The meetings gave opportunities to faculties at U PR for presenting their research in SUD together with MUSC COCA faculties and U PR students presented posters. The exchange of knowledge and productive discussions was fantastic, and students and faculties had the opportunity to establish collaborations, arrange for mentorships and graduate and postdoctoral stays at MUSC.