July 24, 2018

2018-2019 Grantees

Curriculum Impact Grants support educational innovation that enhances Mason Impact and other cross-unit, multidisciplinary curriculum development activities.

Curriculum Impact Grants help faculty in revising existing and developing new curricula that: (a) deepen student development in at least one of the characteristics defined by Mason Impact, and (b) increase percentage of Mason students who participate in some form of Mason Impact project. Priority in 2017-2018 was given to proposals that:

  • Scaffold undergraduate and/or graduate learning from intellectual discovery, to the development of specific knowledge and skills, and culminate in a high impact experience.
  • Engage faculty and staff from multiple units, departments, and divisions in sustainable multidisciplinary collaboration.
  • Pilot models of multidisciplinary collaboration that are scalable and have potential to be expanded into new minors, concentrations, majors, and other programs.

2018-2019 Grantees

The Faculty and Curricular Activities committee and a team of peer reviewers evaluated 20 highly competitive submissions and selected 12 curricular projects to fund. These projects represent an impressive array of collaborations across colleges and schools aiming to create high-impact learning experiences for students, deepening their engagement and development, and preparing them for substantive impact on the world.

Asian American Pacific Islander Studies Minor


Shelley Wong, Ellen Rodgers, Maryam Saroughi, Jannevince Melody Quijada, Rita Chi-Ying Chung, Carol Cleaveland, Emily Ihara, Nancy Xiong, Kylie Stamm (CEHD, CHHS, CHSS, University Life)

As of fall 2017, over 6,000 students who identify as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) are enrolled at Mason, making this population the largest subset of all students of color at the university (Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness). At the national level, the AAPI population is now the fastest growing ethnic/racial group in the U.S., therefore, it is projected that there will be a significant increase in AAPI college students. Currently, only one full-time staff is employed to provide resources and services in student affairs/university life to more than 6,000 AAPI students at Mason. This support is insufficient. We are seeking an Impact Grant to support the following activities:-A pilot study of identified AAPI students at Mason and local community organizations-Professional training opportunity for AAPI undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff members to attend the Association of Asian American Studies Conference to be held in April 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. -A workshop to be hosted at Mason in fall 2018 with invited AAPI experts. The intent will be to discuss the current context for AAPI Studies programs nationally in order to clarify the nature of an AAPI Studies minor at Mason. -The development of two interdisciplinary courses: Introduction to Asian American Pacific Islander Studies and Civic Engagement in the AAPI Community (a service learning course).

Bringing Space to Hands-On Engineering Education Using ThinSat


Peter Pachowicz, Lance Sherry, Robert Gallo (VSE)

Proposed effort brings undergraduate senior design students from ECE, ME and SEOR into a single multidisciplinary team focused on satellite design, development and launch. The long-term goal of this initiative is to launch a series of GMU satellites every year. The major outcome will be permanent participation of GMU students in current and future space missions.

Civic Engagement in Mason Writing


Courtney Wooten, Jessica Matthews (CHSS)

We propose substantial revision of two undergraduate writing courses at Mason, ENGH 101 and ENGH 302, to focus on civic engagement and service learning. Together, these courses serve over 9,000 undergraduate students each year, or approximately 20% of Mason’s undergraduate student population each semester. These students come from every academic discipline on campus, making these courses multidisciplinary by nature. Additionally, the redesign of these courses would involve graduate students who frequently teach both ENGH 101 and 302, an additional 20 graduate students who would engage in civic engagement of their own as they are trained to teach students in ENGH 101 and 302 in ENGH 615, Proseminar in Composition Instruction.Given calls for students in higher education to experience civic learning, integrating such a focus into Mason’s core writing classes would enhance students’ experiences at GMU and allow the university the opportunity to serve the community. During the pilot, students would generate over 2,000 volunteer hours at area organizations; expansion of this program to more sections of ENGH 101 and 302 would, of course, generate much larger numbers of volunteer hours. GMU students would have the opportunity to provide valuable community service while learning how to engage in civic processes in a guided way.

Civic Engagement, Critical Thinking, and Experiential Learning through Escape Rooms


Jackie Brown, Seth Hudson, Cameron Harris, Douglas Eyman (CHSS, CVPA, School of Business)

In teams, students will explore, apply, and create an ‘escape room’ in BUS 303, which will then be shared with students from BUS 103 (the prerequisite) for them to explore. Students will be given design parameters—physical space, budget, number of props, narrative, and estimated time of escape room completion—to guide design and development, requiring iterative collaboration in solving the problem of design. To create an alternative learning experience to both complicate and deepen the knowledge and application of professional skills, this proposal seeks to harness the power of play to facilitate student learning and teamwork. The major change to course content will consist of student design and development of interactive escape rooms that align both with central learning outcomes already established in the course sequence and with the civic engagement outcomes of the Mason MPact. The final products from BUS 303 will also be shared with our community through an Escape Room Exhibition.

Engineering modules for undergraduate zebrafish laboratories in biology and neuroscience


Gwendolyn Lewis, Valerie Olmo, Nathalia Peixoto (COS, VSE)

We propose a multi-disciplinary effort to create engineering modules for a two-course Zebrafish Neurobiology sequence that will be available to upper level undergraduates in biology and neuroscience. The sequence will bring together two existing laboratories in biology and neuroscience and will implement engineering-based modules in each course. Zebrafish are rapidly emerging as a popular experimental model system used to investigate questions in multiple fields including biology, neuroscience, genetics, and biomedical engineering. Two faculty in biology and neuroscience (Olmo and Lewis respectively) have taught, in the last three years, hands-on, research-based laboratory classes that use zebrafish as an experimental model. We propose to organize these existing courses into a scaffolded, two-course sequence, and integrate engineering-based modules into each course.

Expanding the Professional Writing Curriculum to Enhance Global and Civic Engagement


Heidi Lawrence, Isidore Dorpenyo, Douglas Eyman (CHSS)

Revision of Professional Writing Minor to: * increase high-impact experiential learning practices; * provide multidisciplinary course options; * develop a capstone experience; * increase focus on global and civic engagement in core courses.

First Year Impact Seminars


Kimberly Holmes, Jacquelyn Nash, Melitta Igwe, Jodi Ross, Kayla Vaughan (Center for Academic Advising, Retention, and Transition)

Student Academic Affairs – Advising, Retention and Transitions (synonymous with Center for Academic Advising, Retention, and Transitions) is responsible for providing direct student advising for undeclared/undecided students, coordination for advising and retention efforts across all colleges at Mason, and managing UNIV transition courses and programs for students across the university.  Our overall goals are to create a new course for the spring 2020 semester (UNIV 101), mentor fall 2018 UNIV100 students around Mason Impact themes, and engage key stakeholders in modifying our current UNIV100 course to incorporate an introduction to Mason Impact focus areas. UNIV 101 will support first year students in further developing the skills learned in UNIV 100 while helping them to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts of research, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement. Our UNIV 100 course (we currently offer over 50 sections with over 1,000 students/year) focuses mainly on exploration, in which they are introduced to resources to ensure academic and personal success at Mason. UNIV 101 will focus on applying information learned in their first semester to engage in the three focus areas of the Mason Impact, and ultimately develop a proposal to pursue a specific Mason Impact experience.

Graduate Programs in Computing, Engineering, and Science Education


Jill Nelson, Nancy Holincheck, Jessica Rosenberg, Margret Hjalmarson, Laura Lukes, Jaime  Lester , Aditya Johri, Rebecca Jones, Rebecca Fox (CEHD, CHSS, COS, VSE, Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning)

Honors College Civic Engagement


John Woolsey, Dana Dolan, Blake Silver, Jan Allbeck, Anthony Hoefer, Jennifer Ashley, Lauren Cattaneo, Thomas Wood, Kevin Stoy, Maoria Kirker (CHSS, Honors, VSE, University Libraries)

This grant seeks support in developing four Civic Engagement (CE) impact-courses to enhance the Honors College’s curricular redesign efforts. As we have assessed our curriculum and its future form and function, it has become clear that civic engagement is an underdeveloped element of our curriculum. Our application seeks an opportunity to clarify, expand, and enhance this domain of learning. We propose developing four new curricular CE opportunities (two new courses: HNRS 260 and 261, as well as CE-focused sections of HNRS 360 and 361) that build on a collaboration between the Honors College and our partners across the university. This course set will draw on the Mason Impact model to go above and beyond the baseline CE requirements set by SCHEV. Students will be required to take two courses: HNRS 260 or 261 AND HNRS 360 or 361. These courses are scaffolded within the Mason Impact curricular structure so that the 200-level courses match the objectives of an apply-level course and the 300-level courses align with the create/lead level. The 260 and 360 courses are inquiry-based and situated in a traditional classroom environment, while the 261 and 361 courses are conducted in a problem-based learning setting where students work collaboratively to answer a question about civic engagement.

Music Theory Curriculum Redesign


Megan Lavengood, June Huang, Tom Owens, Elaine Rendler (CVPA)

The funds from this grant would be used to redesign the current core curriculum for music majors at Mason, specifically, the core music theory sequence that all majors are required to take. Our primary goals are threefold: one, to move from a strict sequence to a more open-ended modular design, giving students more agency and choice in their educational trajectory; two, to make the connections between theory and practice more explicit by incorporating hands-on experiences on students’ own instruments directly into the theory classroom; three, to better scaffold the existing capstone course for music majors through the music theory curriculum. The faculty involved are Prof. Megan Lavengood (Asst. Prof. of music theory), Prof. Elaine Rendler (Prof. of music theory), Prof. June Huang (Asst. Prof. of violin and Director of Strings), and Prof. Tom Owens (Assoc. Prof. of music history and Assoc. Director of the School of Music).

Policy Communication


Justin Gest, Katherine Rowan (CHSS, Schar School)

The Schar School of Policy and Government and the Department of Communication propose a new 2-course module in Policy Communications—a sequence of experiential learning that instructs students in communicating complicated findings from social science and policy reports across various media. This module will also form the core elements of a Certificate in Policy Communication for graduate students, that emphasizes both the creation of multimedia communication and students’ consideration of stakeholders and consumers of information.The module and academic programs fill a critical void in policy studies, but also in the public sector, where the status of research, science, and intelligence is fraught with controversy in the eyes of a public disoriented by the publication of “fake news”, “alternative facts” and “faux science.” Social scientists and policy scholars regularly contribute groundbreaking findings of matters of great currency, but there is little training to undergraduates and graduate students in these subject matters in how to convert such findings into public campaigns that connect to voters and political leaders.

Undergraduate Degree in Global Biodiversity Conservation


Elizabeth Freeman, James McNeil, Cody Edwards, Kelly Dunne, David  Luther, Stephanie Lessard-Pilon (CHSS, COS)

Over the next year, we are proposing to work with partners across campus to complete the development and approval of an undergraduate degree in Global Biodiversity Conservation. There are several courses we have identified for re-design and/or development, two of which we will focus upon for this Curriculum Impact proposal. We plan to redesign INTS 211 – Introduction to Conservation Studies, which explores historical conservation literature and global perspectives about biodiversity, for approval as a Mason Core course in Literature. Additionally, we are proposing to develop a capstone course in conservation that leverages our interdisciplinary network to create a unique experience for students.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jesse Guessford