About SEP

The Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP) is a collaboration between the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Unified School District. Scientists and educators from both organizations work in partnership to support quality science education for K-12 students.

SEP, founded in 1987 and currently housed in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, is nationally recognized as a model partnership between a university and a local public school system. Since 1989, SEP has been awarded nearly $9-million in competitive federal, private, and state awards. SEP is currently funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, by a NIH-Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), the Bechtel Foundation, the UCSF Chancellor's Office, the UCSF School of Medicine, and the California Science Project.

A UCSF volunteer and a teacher plan a lesson.

A UCSF volunteer and a teacher plan a lesson.

Mission and Goals

SEP's mission is to promote partnership between scientists and educators in support of high quality science education for K-12 students. To this end, SEP develops and implements programs with the following goals: 1) to support teaching and learning among teachers, students, and scientists; 2) to promote an understanding of science as a creative discipline, a process, and a body of integrated concepts; 3) to contribute to a deeper understanding of partnership; and 4) to provide models and strategies for other institutions interested in fostering partnerships between scientific and education communities.

For SEP, the primary meaning of the term partnership is mutual teaching and learning among partners. As a result, SEP functions as a teaching and learning community in which all participants are encouraged to simultaneously take on the roles of student, teacher, and scientist. As students, we are learning and discovering; as teachers, we are making instructional decisions, implementing pedagogical strategies, and assessing learning; and, as scientists, we are incorporating prior knowledge and generating new knowledge through the course of inquiry. This mutual inquiry into science education through partnership incorporates shared decision-making, continual development of the organization along with the individual, and leadership and expertise arising out of the community of teachers, scientists, and students. SEP continues to evolve by building and applying a foundation of knowledge about successful approaches to professional development and scientist-teacher partnership.

Each year, SEP coordinates the efforts of over 300 UCSF participants who contribute approximately 10,000 hours of service with over 400 SFUSD teachers and their students, representing 80-90 percent of the District's K-12 schools.