Philosophy and History


FallThe Mallinson Institute for Science Education is devoted to the study and improvement of how people teach and learn science. As an academic discipline, it lies at the intersection between science, education, cognitive psychology, and the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. It ranges from concerns about practical teaching techniques to fundamental questions about the nature of science and how people learn. The courses and workshops (potential) teachers of science take with us are designed to help prepare them to think critically about why people should become scientifically literate, what science is most important to know, and how their students learn. We encourage students to become self-reflective about their own learning, in the hope it will empower them to become more independent, intentional thinkers and learners.



Graduate programs in science education were established in the early 1960s under the leadership of Dr. George G. Mallinson and other science educators. The programs have flourished and many M.A. degrees and more than 40 Ph.D. degrees have been awarded. In 2002 the Science Education program was redesigned as a degree granting institute within the College of Arts and Sciences. It became the Mallinson Institute for Science Education in honor of Professor George G. and Jacqueline Mallinson, both of whom played significant roles in launching, sustaining, and guiding the teaching, research, and public service in science education locally, nationally, and internationally. The Mallinsons provided a major monetary gift to the University to support science education graduate student research and professional activity.

In 2011, the Institute had twelve faculty, nine of them holding joint appointments in a science department, one holding a joint appointment in the College of Education, and one adjunct member. The Institute enrolls 50 M.A. students and 23 full time Ph.D. students, and it also has an administrative assistant and a full time laboratory technician. Our state-of-the-art teaching labs and research facilities are in Wood Hall.

The Director of the Mallinson Institute, William Cobern, invites students interested in graduate degrees in science education to contact him for further information about the Institute and its programs.


3225 Wood Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5444 USA
269-387-5398 | 269-387-4998 Fax