Antibiotic resistance and the resulting diminishing supply of effective antibiotics are two of the biggest threats to global health today. While pharmaceutical companies have shifted away from developing new antibiotics, existing antibiotics are losing efficacy due to widespread antibiotic resistance. Formulated at Yale University in 2012 by Jo Handelsman, the Small World Initiative™ (SWI) is addressing this worldwide health threat through innovative and inspiring science curriculum. SWI centers around an introductory biology course in which students perform hands-on field and laboratory research on soil samples in the hunt for new antibiotics. This is particularly relevant as over two thirds of antibiotics come from soil bacteria or fungi.
Over the past four years, SWI has grown rapidly to include more than 170 participating schools across 35 US states, Puerto Rico, and 12 countries. Read our latest press release from SWI President Erika Kurt on how students from around the world are joining forces to tackle the antibiotic crisis through SWI's novel crowdsourcing approach. If you are interested in sponsoring our important work, please Contact Us. If you would like to apply to teach the Small World Initiative at your institution, please submit an application available under "Apply to Teach SWI" here.