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Pedagogical Inquiry Grants

Grant Recipients

Center for Teaching and Learning
Pedagogical Inquiry Grants

Purpose:  The CTL Pedagogical Inquiry Grant program, generously funded through a number of endowments, provides special opportunities for faculty to explore new approaches to teaching. Grant recipients gain expertise that they can share with the faculty community at Whitman through hosting CTL programs and facilitating departmental and cross-departmental conversations.

Eligibility: Priority is given to instructors in long-term teaching appointments because of the likely longer duration of the benefit to students. However, visiting faculty may apply, particularly when their participation may bring expertise that benefits the teaching of other faculty. We also encourage instructors to invite relevant staff members into their project. If the staff member is providing support that goes beyond their normal job duties, they can receive a stipend for this support with approval of the staff supervisor. No department may apply more than twice in a single academic year (September 1–August 31). In addition, no faculty member can receive more than $3000 in stipends during a single academic year.

In support of the Environmental Justice, Sustainability and Climate Action strategic priority and encouraging cross-disciplinary sustainability learning, a portion of available funding will be solely dedicated for sustainability-related pedagogical projects.

Review Process: Project proposals are reviewed two times per year. The deadline for projects starting in Spring 2024 is October 31, 2023; the deadline for proposals for Summer or Fall 2024 is April 5, 2024. Applications should submitted to the Associate Dean for Faculty Development via this form.

Our proposal application requirements are minimal in part because of our expectation that drafting the application itself is part of the inquiry process. The CTL steering committee often responds to an application with additional questions and suggestions before making a final decision. Depending on the availability of grant funds, the CTL committee may ask about sharing the costs of specific line items in the budget proposal (i.e. materials books, journal subscriptions, etc.) with department budgets and/or endowments dedicated to such purposes.

Application Requirement: Please use the application template to provide:

  1. Cover page including budget details , a list of organizer(s) and participants.
  2. A narrative that directly answers the questions for the project type selected below.
  3. Budget justification (see below for guidelines).
  4. Anything else, as relevant. Feel free to let us know any questions you had in putting this application together or anything else you'd like us to know.

Grant Deliverables: After the project has concluded, the project member(s) must submit the following to the Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Mary Raschko, in order to receive stipends:

  1. A report to the CTL steering committee that explains how the initial goal of the inquiry project was met, preliminary information on its impact on student learning, and how the grant recipient envisions sharing the results of the project with others on campus. The report should include a brief description by each person of specific changes they made/will make in at least one course.
  2. Relevant teaching materials, such as course proposals, syllabi, specific assignments, revised learning goals, evaluation rubrics/criteria and/or assessment plans, that emerge out of the project and are highlighted in the report.
  3. Cross Department Inquiry grant recipients are expected to present the results of their project in a CTL-sponsored program or similar event that facilitates faculty learning.

Project Types

Please note:  Fall and/or Spring First Year Seminar course development is encouraged as an indirect outcome of PIG-supported projects, as meaningful results inspired by broader CDI or DI projects, which in turn go beyond regular departmental or program business. The PIGs are not in place for directly funding FYS course development.

A. Cross-Departmental Inquiry (CDI) Project. An interdisciplinary team explores a common area of study. This might include how a particular topic is taught from multiple perspectives, or a particular skill that cuts across disciplines (e.g., writing, oral communication, quantitative skills, intercultural learning). The participants involved will benefit from the experience of learning alongside each other. Requested stipends should reflect the duration and intensity of work across the granting period. Each faculty member may request up to $1,500 in compensation and a coordinator may request an additional $500 in recognition of the additional organizational time. The following are questions to consider and address in preparing a CDI application:

  1. What is the common area of inquiry that you want to explore, and why do you think it is important?
  2. Who are your team members, and what does each bring to your inquiry? (1–2 sentences are fine.) Remember that staff can be included in your proposal. The CTL committee strives to make these grants as inclusive as possible. To that end, please mention people you had hoped would participate but who are not available, with a note of how they might be included in work after the grant is completed.
  3. What does each of you imagine to be the outcome of your participation in the project? Is it improved teaching of writing? New interactive activities that help students get more from lectures? A better understanding of how a particular topic might connect across disciplines and programs? Improved content and curriculum coordination around closely related topics? Each proposed participant needs to provide 2–3 sentences. Additionally, if there is some kind of shared “product” (public exhibit, a shared assignment or rubric, etc.), mention that here. As the expectation of all projects is a CTL program at a minimum, please specify what format you expect this program to take (e.g. interactive workshop, panel presentation and discussion, a short video for asynchronous learning, etc.).
  4. What preliminary texts/sources will guide your work? Some of these might be focused on content (e.g. articles or books about gender, animal studies, graphic novels) but you should also include some pedagogically focused readings about how to teach content.
  5. On what timeline will you conduct your work? (please include a short syllabus or outline)

The report should include a brief description by each person of specific changes they made/will make in at least one course.

B. Departmental Inquiry Project.Members of a department want to go beyond their regular departmental businessto focus on an area or program identified as a high priority for rethinking and innovation. Requested stipends should reflect the duration and intensity of work across the granting period. Each participating faculty member may request up to $1,500 in compensation. The following are questions to consider and address in preparing a departmental application:

  1. What is the specific aspect of student learning that has sparked the department's decision to work together? What pedagogical challenges or structural inequities does the department seek to address? What source of information led the department to identify this as an issue (e.g. external review results, assessment in the major, alumni feedback, etc.)?
  2. What will success look like after your project ends? What do you envision will have changed in terms of what students can do? When relevant, please explain how the project will increase inclusivity in the learning environment.
  3. What specific collaborative work is necessary and which department members are participating? For example, a department might undertake curricular mapping to see where specific skills are being taught to ensure students are getting repeated opportunities to build their performance on that skill.
  4. What scholarly research or expertise will inform your inquiry? This could include general scholarship on teaching and learning, or it could entail something specific to your field. It might also include consultation with someone beyond campus with qualified expertise in particular pedagogical approaches. In your application, please give the committee a clear explanation of your use(s) of such scholarship and expertise.
  5. On what timeline will you conduct your work? (please include a short syllabus or outline)

C. Pedagogical Enhancement Project. An individual instructor seeks to address some challenges in student learning by changing a pedagogical approach in their course. The changes sought to go beyond the “what” of content to the “how” of engaging students with that content. Just a few examples include developing collaborative assignments or activities, learning new technologies that facilitate student engagement, developing new ways of grading student work, and developing assignments or activities in collaboration with a local community organization to facilitate community-engaged learning. Requested stipends should reflect the duration and intensity of work across the granting period. Faculty may request up to $1500 in compensation. 

The following are questions to consider and address in preparing an individual application:

  1. What is it about your students’ learning that you would like to improve and why? What sources of information helped you identify this as an issue?
  2. What will success look like after your project ends? What do you envision will have changed in terms of what students can do? When relevant, please explain how the project will increase inclusivity in the learning environment.
  3. What scholarly research or expertise will inform your inquiry? This could include general scholarship on teaching and learning, or it could entail something specific to your field. It might also include consultation with someone beyond campus with qualified expertise in particular pedagogical approaches. In your application, please give the committee a clear explanation of your use(s) of such scholarship and expertise.
  4. On what timeline will you conduct your work? (please include a short syllabus or outline)

Budget Guidelines

Stipends. Please provide an estimated schedule of faculty participation to justify your stipend request(s). Although the CTL committee recognizes the potential benefits of working collaboratively at a retreat, applicants should not seek the maximum stipend for working in this compressed timeframe, since it allows less time for reflection and extended learning. Remember to explicitly indicate whether staff participants should receive a stipend as agreed by their supervisor. Stipends are paid upon receipt of the final project report.

Consultants. A consultant with expertise can be brought to campus, ideally to meet with a group of faculty to help with assignment design or some other pedagogical aspect of the project. Their travel expenses, plus a stipend of $500, can be requested.

Readings. There are many books and online resources already available via Penrose Library and the CTL can order titles we do not yet own. Each participant may request up to $100 in books or other research-related fees.

Equipment and Supplies: Any equipment purchased with PIG funds will become the property of Whitman College. For requests involving technology, please consult with David Sprunger, Director of Instructional and Learning Technology, prior to submitting your application.

Student Assistants. Students often offer valuable perspectives on the classroom or curriculum. Up to 80 hours of student assistance can be requested (at the same rate as the Abshire awards). Explain why the student's assistance is especially valuable to the project and provide an outline of their anticipated work.

Grant Recipients

Anthropology Curriculum Revision & Course Development

Recipients: Eunice Blavascunas, Rachel Goerge, Jason Pribilsky, Daniel Schultz, and Xiaobo Yuan

Description: This grant supports the Anthropology Department in revising its required course (ANTH 101, 201, 301). The department aims to better align the sequencing of these courses, and to structure required courses to provide students with a conceptual and methodological toolkit that prepares them for senior assessment. Additionally, the department aims to foster inclusivity by considering diverse perspectives and voices in the course content. A successful result includes the revision of the required courses for the major, a refined understanding of essential texts and theories, and development of a shared database of assignments that would best build skills for students and prepare them for their senior assessment.

Biology - Collaborative Design of a New Introductory Biology Series

Recipients: Arielle Cooley, Heidi Dobson, Delbert Hutchison, Kate Jackson, Brit Moss, Tim Parker, Matthew Tien, Dan Vernon, Ginger Withers, Chris Wallace, Emily Hamada, Travis Morgan, and Michelle Shafer.

Description: The grant provides support to the faculty and staff of the Biology Department who over the past two years worked on revising the three introductory course series, driven by three primary objectives. Firstly, they aim to increase accessibility to the biology major by allowing students to begin the series without prior chemistry knowledge and even in their first year, thus increasing the appeal of STEM fields to students. Secondly, they intend to shift the emphasis of the initial courses towards whole-organism topics like natural history and ecology, which are more engaging for students and foster excitement about biology. Then courses on cellular and molecular biology precede those on biodiversity and ecology. Lastly, the faculty seeks to involve all Biology instructors in teaching the introductory courses to enhance early faculty-student interactions and provide greater staffing flexibility. This grant supports the collaborative efforts of the Biology department and will ensure consistency in syllabi and materials across different sections, offering students comparable foundational knowledge in biology regardless of their instructor.


Experiential Learning in Introductory Physics

Recipients: Ashmeet Singh, Alazar Yehdego

Description: This Project aims to enhance the introductory physics courses (PHYS 155 & 156) through a focused upgrade of its teaching methods and materials. Recognizing these courses as a fundamental introduction to physics for various majors and a gateway for physics and allied majors, Singh and Yehdego aim to enrich the student experience with practical experience. Key initiatives include creating new, engaging demonstrations for lectures and integrating more hands-on, "do-it-yourself" style experiments and mini-projects that utilize everyday objects in the lab component. This approach is intended to make physics more accessible and stimulating, ensuring a deeper, experiential learning process that resonates with the diverse student body. The grant will support the development and integration of these materials and methods, fostering a more dynamic and interactive learning environment.

Genealogies of Student Activism at Whitman College

Recipients: Kynde Kiefel, Libby Miller, Shampa Biswas, Peter de Grasse, Camilo Lund-Montaño, River Freemont, Jeanine Gordon, Richard Middleton-Kaplan, and Andrew Somoskey

Description: In 2020, the 'Black Life at Whitman: Stories from Across the Years' panel illuminated the invisible yet impactful history of activism at Whitman by bringing together alumni to share their experiences. Panelists and audience members alike realized that past activism was not well known, making it hard for students to build on progress. Recognizing the need for visible genealogies, staff and faculty, including representatives from various departments and archives, received a Pedagogical Inquiry Grant to find and showcase stories of student activism at Whitman. Through regular meetings and collaborative research, the team will select, and organize an exhibition for the Fall of 2025 at the Sheehan Gallery and Maxey Museum, integrating archival material with contemporary artwork to create a meaningful dialogue about the college's history of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. This initiative not only honors the past contributions of students but also empowers current and future generations to continue advocating for positive change on campus.

Human-Centered Design 101 and Beyond

Recipients: Janet Davis, Justin Lincoln, Sharon Alker, William Baress, and Michelle Janning

Description: The grant supports collaborative development of the first HCD 101 course. While the course will be taught by Janet Davis and Justin Lincoln in Spring 2024, the grant work integrates other members of the program, so that as the course evolves, it will not require complete reinvention each time it changes hands. The main product of the grant will be a syllabus for the Spring 2024 offering of HCD 101. The group also hopes to establish core principles for Whitman’s Human-Centered Design academic program that faculty and students can reference and build on over the next few years, particularly in the development of the 400-level capstone course. They will also be looking at how to use the classroom space most effectively through the semester, as they design and position activities on the syllabus to happen in that space. Finally they will continue to research different ways that this Human-Centered Design concentration can engage deeply and broadly with the liberal arts disciplines.


Manim for Upper-Level Economics Courses

Recipients: Jason Ralston

Description: The grant-supported work addresses challenges students in upper-level economics courses (ECON 307, ECON 325, and ECON 327) encounter with intricate mathematical concepts due to diverse backgrounds and learning preferences. The grant supports the creation of supplementary videos inspired by YouTube content, using Python’s Manim package, which aims to provide students with engaging, visual explanations to enhance their understanding by pausing, slowing down, and rewinding videos and learning at their own pace. Ralston plans to facilitate online discussions of the videos on Canvas and expects students will cite the videos when applying visual concepts in class and assignments. This will result in improved comprehension, better performance, and more insightful questions during class discussions.

Pre-Engineering Program and Policy Review

Recipients: John Stratton, Frank Dunnevant, Kurt Hoffman, Douglas Hundley, and Doug Juers

Description: The dual degree program in engineering has existed at Whitman for decades, routinely attracts significant attention from prospective students, and issues more degrees than many standard majors each year. The program, although historically successful in attracting prospective students and issuing a considerable number of degrees annually, faces procedural and administrative challenges that negatively impact the student experience. The grant supports faculty members who, until now, have been informally involved in the Pre-Engineering program, in making necessary changes, enhancing program administration, and clarifying transfer requirements. The goal is to improve student support, define learning objectives, and become institutionally accountable to be better positioned to elevate student success in Whitman's engineering dual degree program.


Physics Department Strategic Planning

Recipients: Andrés Aragoneses, Moira Gresham, Kurt Hoffman, Doug Juers, Ashmeet Singh

Description: The physics department is planning a top-down review of its mission, departmental goals, major programs, and course curriculum, following recommendations from a recent external review and the recent hire of two tenure-track positions in the department. Anticipated outcomes of the project include (i) a mission or vision statement, (ii) the revision of major learning objectives in the context of the mission or vision statement, and (iii) a prioritized list of actions we intend to take to achieve our mission/vision and student learning objectives.

Public Health Models at Whitman College

Recipients: Alissa Cordner, Kimberly Mueller, Jim Russo, and Matthew Tien

Description: The grant supports exploring the feasibility of establishing a Public Health major, minor, or concentration. This initiative stems from preliminary work conducted in Spring 2023 to review public health programs at peer institutions and gather relevant data. The next phase includes asking feedback from the Whitman community to gauge interest and gather insights on various program models. Additionally, the team plans to outline potential frameworks for a robust public health education at Whitman, detailing the structures and resources required to implement such programs.


Reimagining Whitman’s Organic Chemistry Laboratory Curriculum

Recipients: Dalia Biswas, Jonathan Collins, Marion Gotz, and Mark Juhasz

Description: With this grant, the Chemistry Department is undertaking a comprehensive update of its organic lab courses, aiming to fully incorporate the latest technology and methods to reflect the modern field of organic chemistry. With the recent addition of a computational lab to 251 and 252, and a commitment to continuous improvement, the department is enhancing the lab experience to be more cohesive, engaging, and relevant. Faculty members are dedicated to enriching the learning experience, ensuring that students recognize the value and relevance of organic chemistry within and beyond the classroom.


Statistical Theory Course Development

Recipient: Marina Ptukhina

Description: This grant supports a professor shifting their approach to teaching Statistical Theory, aiming to integrate simulation-based methods alongside the traditional theory-focused structure. While recognizing the success of this approach in lower-level courses, the goal is to establish a more cohesive and practical learning experience for students. Although students need to know the theory, modern statistics guidelines for teaching suggest that simulation-based inference allows students a professional and forward-thinking model for enhancing their understanding and application of statistical theory. Using tools such as R Studio to visualize theoretical relationships that otherwise could be hard to understand, bridges the gap between theoretical concepts and technical applications. Overall, the grant should facilitate better understanding and appreciation of statistical theory and help students connect material from previous courses that use simulation-based inference to a higher level statistics course.

Developing Accessible, Scaffolded Writing Assignments Across the Curriculum

Recipients: Lydia McDermott

Description: As we move into the third year of the college’s First Year Seminar program and a year of implementation for new General Studies requirements, McDermott will develop a database of usable templates for writing assignments that follow best practices for accessibility. In addition, as the academic year begins, she will work with student assistant Sueli Gwiazdowski on accessibility best practices recommendations for faculty, updating the COWS website to include more faculty-oriented resources. These resources will improve her own assignments and the supplemental material available for COWS tutors, as well as be broadly available to faculty.


French Beyond France: Documenting Francophone Environments

Recipients: Jack Iverson

Description: Requested funds will support the work of a student assistant to develop materials for a new 300-level course to be offered in Fall 2022, “French Beyond France.” The course will examine the widely varying roles French plays in countries across the globe, functioning as a language of education, commerce, culture, diplomacy and everyday life. It will also explore some of the variations in the language itself as it appears in other settings and coexists with other languages. With grant support, Iverson will recruit an international student to help identify and document case studies that will be used in the course, focusing on North and/or West Africa, both areas that fall outside his areas of expertise.

The Global Politics of the War in Ukraine Public Outreach Assignments

Recipients: Shampa Biswas, Gillian Frew, Bryan Lubbers, Carlos Munoz

Description: This grant supports development of a course that, in addition to teaching about international
relations theory and the war, includes public outreach projects designed to make our students public intellectuals/educators.


Grammar, Structure, and Style Writing Workshops for RWPD 170

Recipients: Johanna Stoberock and Chetna Chopra

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic lock-down has had a clear impact on our students’ writing-skills, particularly those of first-year students in RWPD 170. Two long-standing instructors of writing will collaborate in constructing a semester-long series of writing
workshops and handouts that would focus on students’ current needs and the specific requirements for writing at Whitman College. These workshops would begin with a focus on the basics of writing and build in complexity as the semester progresses.


The History and Politics of Mexican Food

Recipients: Aaron Strain, Camilo Lund Montaño

Description: Two professors who both teach courses on Mexico will explore ways to combine efforts, reach a broader range of students by working together, and connect their Mexico-focused teaching to the local community. Their goal is to create a co-taught course at the introductory level that focuses on “Mexican food”—a contested, global category cross-cut with Indigenous, Spanish, African, Middle Eastern, French, German, and other influences, deeply intertwined with histories of nationalism, transnationalism, revolution, internal and external migrations, rural- urban transitions, international politics, and industrialization, and central to the way that “Mexican” is conceived of both in Mexico and abroad.


History, Politics, and Food in the Middle East

Recipients: Elyse Semerdjian

Description: The grant provides funding for history professor Elyse Semerdjian to hire a student assistant, Elle Palmer, who plans on majoring in Politics and SAMES, as a research assistant for academic year 2022–2023. The team will spend 5–8 hours a week reading and discussing works on Middle East food history. They will also seek to also locate some of the subject matter within the local agriculture of southwest Washington, which includes the production of chickpeas, lentils, wheat, wine, lamb, and goats. The ultimate goal is to develop a concrete course—that is simultaneously global and local—that would be a permanent fixture in the Whitman curriculum.


Imagining Maxville

Recipients: Lisa Uddin

Description: This project aims to develop more community-based and equitable art historical pedagogy at Whitman College. Prof. Uddin will partner with Oregon’s Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center (MHIC), to facilitate BIPOC students’ work with the Maxville site. Located in the Wallowas on 240 acres, Maxville was a racially segregated logging town that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. The MHIC recently acquired the property rights to original land upon which this community was built, with plans to make it an education center for Maxville history and ecology. Director Gwendolyn Trice, along with consulting architectural historian and Cultural Resource Management specialist Henry Kunowski, are seeking ideas from Whitman students that can serve future BIPOC learners who will visit the site. Whitman students will spend extended time on the land to research it as a space of historical, ecological, and aesthetic value, and conceptualize designs and outreach programs that access that value, which will be communicated through the MHIC website.

An Introduction to Calculus: Adding a Pre-Calculus Co-requisite

Recipients: Barry Balof, Douglas Hundley, Matthew Petersen, Albert Schueller

Description: In recent years, the math department has seen more and more students who wish to pursue STEM fields, but who lack the requisite background to be successful in our Math 125 (Calculus 1) course. The grant will allow time and resources to develop a syllabus, materials, and goals for a new course new course, Math 124, which is a 4 credit course that will include ‘co-requisite’ material relevant to the topics in Math 125. The department also plans to develop a more robust and nuanced placement examination that would give students a better indication of which calculus course to start with given their background.


Music Department Curricular Innovations

Recipients: Paul Luongo, Amy Dodds, Gary Gemberling, Doug Scarborough, and Michael Simon

Description: The Music Department will engage in a process of significant curricular evaluation and reassessment. Throughout the past decade, the department has made numerous small changes to its curriculum to reflect its many staffing changes and its, often, transitional state. However, it has not yet had the opportunity to engage in a substantive period of group reflection that gets to the heart of its curricular identity and explores the central goals and identity of the program.


Neuroscience @ Whitman - Planning for a Combined major, Interdisciplinary Minor, or Concentration

Recipients: Nancy Day, Ginger Withers, Chris Wallace

Description: Understanding the machinery of the mind is not only central to issues of human and animal health, it is central to understanding what makes us human. Interest in neuroscience has exploded over the past 20 years, as breakthroughs in techniques and methodologies are giving new traction to address long-standing questions about the organization and operation of the human brain. This grant supports investigating the “popularity” of neuroscience major/minor/concentration programs relative to biology & psychology majors at different institutions to guide potential interest in different curricular options (e.g. major vs. minor); identifying the feasibility of a combined Biology-Psychology major or interdisciplinary minor; and draftingplans for either a combined major or interdisciplinary minor.


Public Health

Recipients: Alissa Cordner, Ellen Defossez, Nina Lerman, Kimberly Mueller, Jason Pribilsky, Jim Russo, Wenqing Zhao

Description: Participants seek to identify what it would take to create a structured Public Health major, minor, or concentration at Whitman. The group of faculty and staff from all three divisions will review Public Health programs at peer and aspirational institutions; identify “best practices” in undergraduate, liberal arts-oriented Public Health pedagogy; and describe possible frameworks for establishing such a program at Whitman.


Proposing a new cross-disciplinary studio course on Natural History

Recipients: Maria Lux and Travis Morgan

Description: This grant supports the collaborative exploration of a new ARTS studio course centered around natural history museum displays. This course relies heavily on collaboration between the art department and the Natural History collection housed in the science building. Participants will collaboratively explore potential assignments and projects that utilize the existing natural history collection on campus and apply student learning to produce contributions to the science building displays. They will also investigate the possibility of a field trip component to LA with collaborating institutions there.

Supporting Interdisciplinary Computing

Recipients: John Stratton, Claire Harrigan, Matthew Tien, Dalia Biswas, Marina Ptukhina, Ashmeet Singh, Jason Ralston

Description: A substantial number of new faculty bring research expertise with computational methods in their respective disciplines. Coming from seven different disciplines, participants plan to investigate how Whitman can better prepare and support students in developing computational competencies through four channels: pedagogy, curriculum, co-curriculum, and student support services.


Transitioning Semester in the West to New Leadership and a New Model

Recipients: M Acuff, Eunice Blavascunas, Aaron Strain, Lyman Persico, Stan Thayne

Description: The grant allows faculty members from Environmental Studies, who teach field courses and community-engaged research and learning courses to redesign Semester in the West. We met four times, including more than 13 hours of in-person meetings, plus exchanged many emails and each person dedicated time to either writing-up the new model, modeling the instructor schedule, or delineating impacts to ES120. We carefully considered what makes SITW such a transformative and popular program, thought critically about what could be revised, and studied the logistical, financial, staffing, and administrative work related to sustaining SITW in a new model. Although efforts are still underway for financing and staffing SITW, we have developed a comprehensive plan for running, staffing and facilitating the new model.


Acknowledging Land, Teaching Disposession

Recipients: Eunice Blavascunas, Nina Lerman, Camilo Lund-Montaño, Kisha Schlegel, Nicole Simek, Stan Thayne, Lisa Uddin, Zahi Zalloua

Description: The purpose of this project is to develop decolonial pedagogy at Whitman College. Participants aim to study the institutional practice of indigenous land acknowledgment as a departure point for critically examining the history, politics, ecology and aesthetics of dispossession in our region and more broadly. Key questions include, but are not limited to: What/when is land? To whom does it belong? How do we write, circulate, and speak a land acknowledgment in a 2021 settler state, and why? What are its conceptual frames and ethical processes? In what ways can it engage students in racial and spatial critical inquiry, resistance, and repair? What solidarities are possible in teaching the dispossession indexed by land acknowledgement?


Black and Indigenous Studies in the Whitman Curriculum

Recipients: Zahi Zalloua, Nicole Simek, Suzanne Morrissey, Camilo Lund-Montaño, Jacqueline Woodfork, Lisa Uddin, Julia Ireland, Jason Pribilsky, Daniel Schultz, Arash Davari, Tarik Elseewi

Description: Last year’s Financial Sustainability Review proposed renaming Whitman’s “Race and Ethnic Studies” program “Black and Indigenous Studies.” This renaming of the program might help both to draw student attention to what faculty in the program are already doing and to harness student interest in Blackness and Indigeneity. Initial conversations with faculty members last spring were fruitful and confirmed that there is strong interest among the RAES faculty to pursue the change to Black and Indigenous Studies. The aim of our project is to explore what this change would entail. We propose to study existing models of Black and Indigenous Studies at various liberal colleges and universities, consult with experts in the field, and evaluate the feasibility of this shift at Whitman.


Classics Curricular Mapping

Recipients: Anna Conser, Sarah Davies, Michelle Jenkins, Kate Shea

Description: In response to recent retirements and to staffing pressures created by the Financial Sustainability Review, this project addresses the following areas:  1) review of the Classics program, 2) revision of the Senior Capstone and integration with the Kimball Lectureship into a new speaker series and related course, 3) exploration of the development of a student internship to support classical languages, and 4) exploration of opportunities for community engagement.


Climate Reckonings, Climate Justice

Recipients: M Acuff, Phil Brick, Elissa Brown, Kurt Hoffman, Doug Juers, Kirsten Nicolaysen

Description: This grant supports the development and Implemention of programming for the college-wide theme of “Climate Reckonings, Climate Justice” during the 2021–2022 academic year. Ideally, this project will impact all corners of the College community as participants explore the broader impacts of climate change and potential responses. The organizers will include all stakeholders of the community in their programming and planning including faculty, staff, students, and alumni.


Developing a “Creative Thought and Practice” Program of Study at Whitman College

Recipients: Daniel Schindler, Kynde Kiefel, Libby Miller, Emily Somoskey, Amy Dodds, Katrina Roberts

Description: Participants will explore if a course of study in Creative Thought & Practice would enhance the student experience, create an area of distinction at Whitman College, and build more cross-departmental opportunities for research, creative projects, and community engagement.


Digital Studies and Experience Design

Recipients: Sharon Alker, William Bares, Janet Davis, Sarah Hurlburt, Michelle Janning, Kynde Kiefel, Justin Lincoln, Jason Pribilsky, Daniel Schindler, Michael Simon, David Sprunger, John Stratton

Description: Participating faculty seek to explore, compare, and develop their understandings of digital studies and experience design towards developing a strategic new major program at Whitman College. Participants will include faculty with an interest in digital studies and design from across all three divisions, as well as staff with relevant expertise.


Environmental Humanities

Recipients: Sharon Alker, Patrick Frierson, Emily Jones, Chris Leise, Tim Parker, Kisha Schlegel, Kate Shea

Description: This project reassesses the curriculum, structures, and resources of the Environmental Humanities program in response to staffing pressures as a result of the Financial Sustainability Review.


Redressing the Loss of the Language Assistant after the Financial Sustainability Review

Recipients: Aarón Aguilar-Ramirez, Janis Be

Description: With this grant the Hispanic Studies Department seeks to redress the the permanent loss of the Language Assistant role. Grant work will consist of two primary lines of inquiry; first, to assess our individual and collective curricular adaptation needs and, second, to consider possible procedural policies for the department. The former will involve surveying student reflections of the LA’s role in their language learning across all levels as well as undertaking a project of curricular mapping in order to assess which skills are emphasized at which levels. The second objective of this PIG involves generating a set of guidelines or departmental policies in order to develop and/or codify a set of principles and best practices.


Social Justice in the Whitman Curriculum

Recipients: Susanne Beechey, Shampa Biswas, Matthew Bost, Camilo Lund-Montaño, Lydia McDermott, Erin Pahlke, Nicole Simek, Xiaobo Yuan, Zahi Zalloua

Description: During the grant period, we will discuss how social justice is currently represented in our own fields of research and teaching, as well as what expectations surrounding the concept students bring to our classes/majors. We will examine current major/minor offerings to get a clearer picture of the existing strengths and resources a new pathway for Social Justice might draw on or make more visible. We will reach out to Whitman departments and programs to learn more about the unmet student demands these departments and programs have observed in working with their majors and minors. We also plan to consult with the SEC and the Office of Grants and Fellowships to learn what they are hearing from students seeking internships, grants, and volunteer opportunities as channels for social justice work and what challenges they have observed students facing in their efforts to connect their academic and career plans. Finally, we will study social justice programs and initiatives at other institutions and consider how similar models might work at Whitman.


Updating Whitman’s General Chemistry Curriculum

Recipients: Charlie Barrows, Dalia Biswas, Nate Boland, Frank Dunnivant, Machelle Hartman, Mark Hendricks, Marc Juhasz, Tim Machonkin, Ruth Russo

Description: The general chemistry sequence is one of the most populated courses at Whitman, with approximately 42% of first year students enrolling in the course every year in route to becoming Chemistry, Biology, BBMB, and Geology majors, and/or pursuing a health profession. The course is taught by multiple faculty every year and because it is a two-semester course, it is important that the learning objectives are consistent across the courses so that all students are prepared for the second semester. Additionally, consistency across sections is useful for building community among first year students in different sections and for equity among students. This grant provides resources and accountability for the department to undertake a review of the course and determine what changes would be beneficial for its students.


Cross-Departmental Inquiry Project to plan and administer “Race, Violence, and Health” faculty-adopted organizing theme for 2020–21

Recipients: Shampa Biswas (Political Science), Susanne Beechey (Political Science), Lisa Uddin (Art History and Visual Culture Studies), Leena Knight (Biology), Noah Leavitt (Career and Community Engagement Center), Susan Holme (Off-Campus Programs), Kelsey Martin (Community Learning Specialist), Laura Sanchez (Intercultural Center), Keith Raether (Fellowships and Grants), Hannah Paul (Student Representative) and Aliyah Fard (Student Representative)

Enhancing the Teaching of Drama in Spanish: Recording Selected Plays in Spanish

Recipients: Carlos Vargas-Salgado (Hispanic Studies)

Description: Combining my experience as a play director with my educator's interest, I propose to start recording Spanish Plays, performed by professional, Spanish speaker actors from Mexico, and coordinated, rehearsed and directed by me from Walla Walla. These recordings will greatly benefit the students taking HISP341 Writing in the Air, Contemporary Drama in Spanish and can be used by other students in other Spanish classes.


The Body as Pedagogy: Explorations in Body Studies and Affect Theory

Recipients: Elyse Semerdjian (History, organizer/coordinator), M Acuff (Art), Eunice Blavascunas (Anthropology/Environmental Studies), Peter de Grasse (Theater/Dance), Daniel Forbes (Sheehan Gallery), Lauren Osborne (Religion), Daniel Schultz (Religion), Özge Serin (Anthropology), Yuki Shigeto (Japanese), Xiaobo Yuan (Religion/Anthropology).

Description: A multi and interdisciplinary faculty study group to explore cross-disciplinary research on the body, including questions of representation, race, gender, materiality, affects and its relationship to non-human material environments.

Gender Studies Curriculum Revision & Course Development

Recipients: Nicole Simek (Director of GNDS; French and Interdisciplinary Studies); Lauren Berger (Psychology; Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow); Eva Hoffman (German Studies); Lydia McDermott (RWPD); Suzanne Morrissey (Anthropology and Gender Studies) and Zahi Zalloua (French and Interdisciplinary Studies).

Description: After conducting a self-study and external review this year, the Gender Studies Program has identified a number of curricular revisions we'd like to pursue. We are applying for a departmental inquiry grant in order to jump start this process with a period of intensive work this summer from July 29–Aug 23, 2019. During the grant period, we will focus on two main goals:

  1. Develop a 200-level course centered on intersectionality and interdisciplinary methods to help serve as a bridge between introductory and upper-level coursework.
  2. Consider alternative structures for the program in order to better reflect current emphasis in the field; rebalance 100-, 200-, and 300-level coursework; and enhance opportunities for praxis and collaborative research among students and between students and faculty.


Psychotherapy Theories (or Science of Psychotherapy, TBD)

Recipient: Pavel Blagov (Psychology)

Description: Develop a 2-credit seminar course called either Theories of Psychotherapy or Psychotherapy Science. Part of my motivation behind requesting course pilot funding is that I am not certain which direction would be most advantageous to take (whether to focus on critiquing theory or research). Both topics are outside my research areas of specialization and, to the extent that I have practiced psychology in recent years, I did not provide much intervention, nor have I ever been involved in psychotherapy outcome research. Respectively, I would have to review a considerable amount of empirical articles, books and video material to develop the course.


German Studies Reconfiguration

Recipients: Eva Hoffman (German Studies); Julia Ireland (German Studies) and Emily Jones (German Studies and Environmental Humanities)

Description: In response to Spring 2019 FLL external review report and to changes in our staffing in the program, German Studies proposes a Departmental Inquiry Project for the fall semester (2019) to address the following areas:

  • Reconfiguration of the senior capstone experience
  • Curricular review and revision
  • Integrate new staff into a cohesive program


Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse Curricular Revision Project

Recipients: Lydia McDermott (Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse); Matthew Bost (Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse) and Kaitlyn Patia (Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse)

Description: Starting in the 2019–2020 academic year, the existing Rhetoric and Composition programs will merge to form a new department: Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse. The primary intellectual impetus for the merger is the recognition that rhetoric as a field exists across two broad lines of rhetorical inquiry internationally and nationally: Rhetoric as it is taught as a subset of Communication Studies and Rhetoric and Composition as they are taught in English, Composition, or Writing Studies departments. One of the primary staffing and curricular reasons for the merger is the recognition that rhetoric, across both public speaking and composition courses, must balance development of a specific major curriculum and engagement with rhetoric as a field with teaching written and oral communication skills that have been broadly discussed in faculty retreats and across conversations about general education, and frequently referenced as growth areas or strong areas of interest across the college.


Theory as History: Accessibility and the Links between Life and Ideas

Recipient: Lynn Sharp (History)

Description: This project proposes to work collaboratively with a junior history major, Connor Rauch, to improve students’ reading and comprehension of theoretical texts in order to improve discussion and develop a richer relationship to the past within the classroom. Although the project involves one particular class; the outcome will be applicable to many.


Planning for the STEM HUB

Recipients: Ginger Withers, Project Lead (Biology); Andrea Dobson (Astronomy); Michael Coronado (Biology); Jon Stratton (Computer Science); Albert Schueller (Mathematics); Jim Russo (BBMB); Nate Boland (Chemistry); Kirsten Nicolaysen (Geology) and Fred Moore (Physics)


Developing tools for students to communicate and advocate for science

Recipient: Ginger Withers (Biology)

Description: The primary goal of this project is to develop new ideas and approaches to teaching science literacy and communication. Depending on how we restructure the first-year experience, and general education requirements, I anticipate an opportunity to develop a new course that could be a first-year seminar, part of a pod, or an interdisciplinary course for upper level students.  The project includes four opportunities for pedagogy development and innovation.

“Cosmopolitanism, Citizenship, and Belonging” Final Integrative Essay, Oral, and Writing Fellow Re-tooling

Recipients: Julia Ireland, Project Lead (Philosophy)

Description: As part of my last fall “Cosmopolitanism” course requirements I included an optional 15–17 minute oral presentation and 7–8 page “Final Integrative Essay” intended to apply course concepts to a current problem touched on in the course, e.g. female genital mutilation, asylum cities, the immigration caravan. The integrative essay echoed language included in the Global Studies Area of Concentration without there being a paradigm or model for that requirement; students who had concrete ideas did superbly, others just defaulted to a traditional philosophy paper or got lost somewhere in the process. My hope was to scaffold an assignment structure or guidelines for putting together such an assignment by working together with my course Writing Fellow, Nicki Caddell.


Designing Meaningful Formal Oral Communication Assessments and Fostering Dialogue across Difference in the Introductory-Level Humanities Classroom

Recipients: Janis Be and Aaron Aguilar-Ramirez (Hispanic Studies)

Description: Create two innovative Hispanic Studies courses at the 100-level. Janis Be developed Contemporary Latin American Cinema: An Introduction (HISP 144) and Aaron Aguilar-Ramirez is currently developing US Latinx Literatures and Cultures: US Latinx Literatures and Cultures (HISP 143).


Integration of Librarians into the First Year Experience

Recipients: Lee Keene (Project Lead), Amy Blau, Julie Carter, Ben Murphy and Emily Pearson (Penrose Library)

Revamping/Reprising Spiritual Soundscapes 300 Level Anthropology course

Recipient: Jason Pribilsky (Anthropology)


Reimagining the Art History and Visual Culture Studies Introductory Course

Recipients: Lisa Uddin, Libby Miller, Krista Gulbransen and Matt Reynolds (Art History and Visual Culture Studies)


Revitalizing the Senior Capstone Experience in Hispanic Studies

Recipient: Janis B (Hispanic Studies)


  1. Efforts toward curricular revision and enhancement of Hispanic Studies 490/Senior Capstone with a primary goal of demystifying the process and providing better academic support for students as they engage in specific methods and conventions of scholarly production within the field.
  2. Significantly modify the course syllabus in order to better guide and support students throughout all phases of the writing process.


Provost and Dean of the Faculty
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