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Spring 2010 FaCE Grant Projects Highlight Global Citizenship, Islamic Studies, Performance Studies, and E-Portfolios

Published: July 20, 2010

Seven new Faculty Career Enhancement (FaCE) Phase II grant projects are currently taking shape across ACM colleges as faculty explore innovative ways to enhance learning in laboratories, performance, classroom, and off-campus study.

Grants totaling nearly $60,000 were awarded in FaCE's spring 2010 cycle for probing and timely collaborative research across institutions and disciplines and to create and plan wide-ranging collaborative events.

Supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the ACM FaCE Project provides funds for collaborative research and events that strengthen curricula, teaching, and student learning outcomes at ACM colleges. Through FaCE activities, ACM faculty and administrators build networks – both across campuses and across disciplines – while developing innovative, effective teaching practices and tools.

More than 20 faculty members, representing nine different colleges and as many different disciplines, are directly involved in planning activities, and many more will ultimately be involved in exploring the new practices in teaching and learning fostered by these projects.

The three collaborative research projects range from global citizenship on the island of Malta to Islam Studies to genes and bacteria.

Global Citizenship

Faculty from Luther, Coe, Cornell, and Ripon Colleges will work together to explore the feasibility of a short-term study abroad course on the island nation of Malta.  The course, Global Citizenship, will look at issues of poverty, migration, culture, and nationhood, among others and would be offered through Luther College as soon as June 2011. Luther professors Deborah Norland (education) and John Moeller (political science and Director, Center for Ethics and Public Life) are the project leaders. They propose Malta as an "ideal country" for such a short-term experiential course. Although Malta is part of the European Community, it continues to be a developing nation with a rich history of cultures intermingling, most recently receiving northern African refugees who see Malta as their entry into the European Community.

Teaching Islam in the Liberal Arts Curriculum

Peter Wright (religion, Colorado College) has organized a working group to share individual teaching strategies for presenting Islam in the light of current theories of religion, and to address related questions that arise in the course of teaching Islamic history and civilizations to U.S. college students. He will be joined by M. Brett Wilson (religion, Macalester College), Noah Salomon (religion, Carleton College), and Robert Shedinger (religion, Luther College), author of the recent book Was Jesus A Muslim? Questioning Categories in the Study of Religion. Shedinger’s book will provide a theoretical focus for the project.

Quantification of Famine Genes in the Bacteria Acinetobacter Baylyi

Phoebe Lostroh (biology, Colorado College) and Bruce Voyles (biology, Grinnell College) will collaborate on a common research interest in "bacterial physiology during starvation conditions that mimic some aspects of the typical feast and famine conditions bacteria encounter in nature." The FaCE grant will allow them to share NSF-funded equipment for cutting-edge research in this area and will eventually help them to enhance the laboratory experience of their undergraduates.

Four FaCE-funded projects involve collaborative events, invitations for which have already begun to circulate on ACM campuses.

Making Critical Connections: Workshops on Teaching International Development in the Liberal Arts

Faculty members from Beloit and Colorado Colleges will organize two inter-linked workshops on teaching international development. The first workshop, to be held in January 2011, will bring together 10-12 ACM faculty from various disciplines to discuss and share their strategies on and experience with teaching development. The second workshop, scheduled for May 2011, will build upon the initial group of 10-12 by inviting the international education directors and/or service-learning liaisons from each of the partner institutions. Project leaders Jennifer Esperanza (anthropology, Beloit College) and Rachel Ellet (political science, Beloit College) identify the goals of both workshops as discussing how a liberal arts education can best be used to critically examine, approach, and engage in development topics/projects at both local and global levels; to examine effective means of providing students with an understanding of development that integrates various disciplinary perspectives and innovative teaching practices; and to find ways to integrate students' "venture" and hands-on experiences with theoretical issues of international and community development.

ePortfolios: Electronic Pasta

Led by Christine Wolfe (teacher education, Coe College) and Lisa Wiebenga Stroschine, (academic technologist, Coe College) , this event will gather ACM faculty practitioners of electronic portfolios to present and talk collectively about their experiences.  A key point of discussion will be how portfolios are used to enhance teaching and learning in a variety of disciplines while still speaking to the core values of a liberal arts education.

Performance Educators Conference

Under the leadership of Dennis Barnett (theatre, Coe College), with support from colleagues from Grinnell and Knox Colleges, this event will bring together ACM faculty for sustained discussion about the ways in which theatre and dance are taught in the liberal arts college. The work of the DAH Theatre group from Belgrade, Serbia, will serve as the catalyzing force for this conference. DAH's performances are based in a combinative dance/theatre/multi-media approach which should offer a strikingly different way of thinking about the traditional roles of text, director, actor, dancer, choreographer, and musician — and how these are taught in liberal arts colleges.

Fostering Best Practices in Mentoring Advanced Undergraduate Research

Under the leadership of Andrew Civetinni (political science, Knox College), a steering committee will be convened in September to investigate the feasibility of an ACM-wide conference on faculty mentoring of advanced undergraduate research. The goals of such a conference would be to model an annual conference for ACM undergraduates engaged in advanced research and to foster best practices among faculty members engaged in mentoring such students.

The FaCE Project Phase II is in the final year of a projected three-year initiative. The last round of grant proposals will be due on December 1, 2010. See the FaCE webpage for complete information about applying for a grant. More details are also available from the FaCE Liaison on each ACM campus and from John Ottenhoff, ACM Vice President.

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