2017-2018 CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Departmental Support for Pedagogical Transformation
Across the Major
With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Amherst is implementing a grant program to support departments and interdisciplinary programs as they think about how their courses and majors reflect and further the goals of an Amherst education described in the College’s Strategic Plan. These include enabling students to connect work in the classroom with research, collaborative projects, study abroad or community engagement; to recognize and pursue foundational capacities that help them succeed in multiple disciplines and life experiences; to engage with communities other than those most familiar to them; and to consider how their Amherst education helps them to find their way in a world that is both highly interconnected and deeply divided. In a departure from previous, grant-supported projects, which invited individual faculty participants, this call requests proposals from departmental teams, and it asks departments and interdisciplinary programs to think strategically about clusters of courses that are core to their teaching and to the major.
Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate the support of their departments or programs and accomplish at least two of the following objectives:
- Redesign syllabi, course materials, or assigned projects to clearly identify the learning goals of courses and the intellectual capacities (such as writing, critical reading, quantitative reasoning, or research) that students can anticipate strengthening in those courses.
- Develop or revise courses, including at least two courses that fulfill major requirements, to engage all students in those courses with one or more high-impact practices.
- Incorporate new content or methods of instruction that have been shown to deepen learning for all students.
- Respond to recommendations from a recent self-study, external review, or departmental retreat.
- Provide an opportunity for faculty to revise or rethink courses that are offered regularly, rather than electives or experimental courses that are unlikely to be repeated.
- Identify new or alternative pathways within a major, and develop materials to show students and advisors how the new pathways will work.
- Promote cross-departmental collaboration between two or more departments, either by creating jointly offered, cross-listed core courses, by creating interdisciplinary pathways within each participating major, or by improving coordination between introductory/prerequisite and upper-level courses that cross departmental lines (e.g., chemistry or mathematics prerequisites for other STEM courses).
Above all, we seek to direct support toward those departments and programs that demonstrate that they are thinking about the goals of their curriculum or about the relationship between their department and another in a comprehensive way. Departmental grants are not intended simply to add activities (e.g., group projects, travel) to existing courses with no other revision.
In order to submit a proposal, two or more faculty from the same department or program, including tenure-track and tenured professors and lecturers whose appointments extend at least through the grant period, should agree to work on the course development/revisions during the grant period, which will run for up to 18 months from the start date specified in the proposal. Along with a proposal and budget, applicants must submit a letter from the department chair confirming the department’s support of the proposal, and departments must agree to offer the courses developed or revised with grant funds at least twice during the three years following the grant period. All departments receiving funding are asked to develop structured methods for assessing the work they undertake, using criteria developed in consultation with the Instructional and Curricular Design Services team.
We recognize the significant effort involved in developing or revising multiple courses within a department or interdisciplinary program. Colleagues from the Instructional and Curricular Design Services team are available to help with proposal development, project implementation, and evaluation. Support can take many forms, from curricular consultation to staff help in implementing new teaching methods. A project webpage includes a summary of the resources available to departments and programs.
Individual departments may request support of at least $10,000 and up to $30,000 in 2017. Beginning this year, we are offering the possibility of collaborative grants for 2 or more departments that wish to work together on curricular concerns; the funding range for collaborative proposals is $10,000 to $30,000 per department. We anticipate issuing additional calls for proposals in 2018 and 2019. Funding may be used for the following expenses:
- honoraria for faculty to review curriculum, develop or revise courses, conduct research on methods they seek to adopt, or gain expertise in new pedagogies. The maximum honorarium per person is $5,000. Departments wishing to provide honoraria to a large group of faculty should align the compensation requested with the roles and responsibilities of each participating faculty member. At least one faculty colleague will need to be responsible for reporting on the project, as described below;
- honoraria for outside consultants (up to $2,500 total);
- wages for Academic Interns assisting with course revision or development;
- travel directly related to course development (rather than faculty scholarship). Such travel might include site visits to other colleges and universities or attendance at conferences or workshops about pedagogy;
- materials, software, or other expendable supplies; and
- modest meeting costs (up to $500 per project).
We encourage requests for expenses other than honoraria, within the $30,000 maximum. Please note: the terms of the grant award do not permit us to fund domestic or international student travel, including course-related field trips.
Proposals should include the following items:
- A three- to five-page narrative describing the project, its rationale and goals, how it meets the funding priorities listed above, team members and their proposed roles (including who will be responsible for reporting), and specific plans for offering and assessing courses that are created or revised under the project.
- A one-page budget listing estimated expenses, with notes detailing any proposed travel, consultants, or supply purchases.
- A letter signed by the Department/Program Chair indicating the department’s support of the proposal, describing the proposal’s relationship to departmental/program goals and plans, and confirming the commitment to offer resulting courses at least twice in the three years following the award.
- Optional supporting materials, such as course descriptions or summaries of relevant previous work (If you plan to collaborate with a community organization or colleagues at another college or university, consider including a letter of support.)
To ensure that proposals align with the guidelines, departments are encouraged to consult with the staff of Instructional and Curricular Design Services. Complete proposals should be submitted to Catherine Epstein (email@example.com). A faculty committee will review proposals within 60 days and will either approve funding or ask the submitting department to respond to a list of concerns. Departments not approved for funding in the initial review will have the opportunity to revise and resubmit their proposals.
Proposals will be reviewed by a committee led by the Dean of the Faculty, according to the following criteria:
- Feasibility of the proposed project
- Ability of the project to address at least two of the priority criteria listed above
- A clearly stated rationale for the proposed changes
- Evidence of department-level commitment to revising courses in the major, and
- Specific plans for offering courses and for assessing them.
Departmental teams will be expected to submit two reports: a brief progress report six months into their grant period, and a two- to four-page final report summarizing the results of the project and plans for offering new or revised courses at the end of the grant period. Teams will be asked to participate in a public talk about their work during the academic year following their grant.