2019-20 Funded Projects

Innovation Fund Pilot Projects

A Global Kitchen in the Liberal Arts

Contact: Todd Armstrong and Kathryn Patch

This pilot project will develop a coherent institutional structure for the Global Kitchen, the new teaching space in the HSSC. The project will facilitate through theory and praxis the interdisciplinary study of food and its central role in the human experience in local and global contexts. An important aspect of the project will be to provide a space to explore the importance of food security, social justice through feeding others, and to explore the potential of food studies for global and intercultural engagement and transformation.

Writers@Grinnell: Performance Poetry Short Course

Contact: Dean Bakopoulos and Vrinda Varia

This pilot project will support a Writers@Grinnell short course that will bring in a poet of color each year who bridges the gulf between performance (slam) poetry and academic/literary poetry. During the short course, the poet will lead both a poetry workshop and a culminating public student performance/slam at an off-campus venue. They will also engage with students through events coordinated in partnership with the Intercultural Affairs program.

Area-Focused Symposia Connecting Alumni and Students

Contact: Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, Sarah Barks, Carolyn Jacobson

This pilot project will support 2–4 faculty annually to organize one-day symposia based on a research topic or course topic that connects to a class the faculty member is teaching at the time. Alumni will be invited who have worked in similar research projects or academic fields to make connections with each other and to interact with current Grinnell students. The symposia may include short research talks, a poster session, a panel on “where did my experiences take me”, and/or an interactive time for current students to engage with alumni.

Data Space: Using Data and Stories to Bring Disciplines Together

Contact: Shonda Kuiper and Xavier Escandell

This pilot project will create Data Space, a national repository of interdisciplinary data journalism pieces that allow students the ability to explore, simulate, and modify faculty research. By incorporating interactive apps and pedagogical tools, the articles will provide a unique and innovative way to transform faculty research into accessible stories in a variety of courses. These online stories will be useful for any course covering data-driven and data-related topics. Please see Data Space.

Restorative Practices and Processes: Building a Restorative Community, Shifting a Culture of Conflict, Transforming Lives

Contact: Chinyere Ukabiala, Brigittine French, Lakesia Johnson, Mary Greiner, Erika Jack

This pilot project will introduce students, faculty, and staff to the principles and processes of restorative justice. It will develop and implement an effective and healthy institution-wide system for engaging with challenges in responsive and constructive ways. Restorative practices and processes build a framework for healthy and restorative communities. Through a series of lectures, community-building activities, and training workshops, the project will strengthen our campus community.

Diversity, Belonging, and Retention

Contact: Kaitlin Wilcox, Lakesia Johnson, Maure Smith-Benanti, Georgeanna Robinson

This pilot project will deepen our understanding of the student experience specifically as it relates to multiple facets of diversity. It will augment our ability to facilitate a more nuanced sense of belonging among our campus population and ultimately improve retention and graduation rates for traditionally marginalized populations. The focus will be on resources and enhanced data collection in diversity and inclusion, thus refining our understanding of current program availability, program effectiveness, and facilitating future data-informed policy decisions.

Innovation Fund Planning Projects

Publicizing Existing Campus Ecological Design

Contact: Jonathan Andelson, Lee Sharpe, Elizabeth Queathem, Chris Bair, Joe Bagnoli, Jim Powers

Most of the best practices in ecological design utilized by the College to reduce its environmental footprint are not immediately apparent. Examples include geothermal power, permeable pavers, bioswales, and campus gardens. This planning project will engage faculty, staff, students, and communication design experts in mapping campus locations and developing content for exhibits at or near the site of the solution. These exhibits will promote consideration of additional ecological design features on campus and inspire stakeholders and visitors to advocate for them in their work, town halls, organizations, and other spheres of influence.

Staff Mentor Program: GROWTH@Grinnell

Contact: Mary Greiner, Lakesia Johnson, Marc Reed, Stacy Koehler

This planning project team will develop ideas to improve staff engagement, staff employees’ sense of belonging, and retention by supporting their career development goals and successful inclusion at Grinnell. They will explore the creation of a mentoring program for staff employees on campus.

Re-envisioning Research Literacy for Academic Majors

Contact: Phillip Jones and Rebecca Ciota

This planning project will support librarians and a representative number of faculty, staff, and students to develop a multi-year process re-envisioning what research literacy instruction could look like at Grinnell. Once the initial phase is complete and if planning participants believe the new process to be feasible, the team will submit a pilot project proposal to re-imagine Grinnell’s research literacy program, aligned more closely with the research needs of our students and faculty and informed by appropriate local and professional practices.

Local Foods Program

Contact: Tace Clarke

This planning project will explore the development and implementation of policy and program initiatives that improve access to locally grown and processed foods for Grinnell College and the surrounding community.  They will research ideas to support Dining Services in identifying purchasing opportunities and coordinating with local producers.

Shifting the Paradigm of Learning and Assessment

Contact: Vanessa Preast, Susan Ferguson, Cynthia Hansen, Mark Levandoski

This planning project will collect information about perceptions of and knowledge about learning and assessment across campus. At the end of the planning year, the team will present a report to the Assessment Committee identifying successful implementations of assessment at Grinnell and propose how to replicate these implementations across the College. They plan to follow up with a pilot project proposal for speakers, workshops, and mini-grants to enable individual faculty and academic programs to comfortably design and measure their desired learning outcomes for their courses and for their majors.

Recentering Scholars’ Convocation

Contact: Samuel Rebelsky, Susan Ferrari, Rachel Bly, Edward Cohn

This planning project will explore ideas to restore Scholars’ Convocation to a more central role in a Grinnell College education. A number of factors have led to declines in the number of Convocations offered and in regular attendance at Convocation. This team will conduct a summer planning workshop to investigate two approaches to recentering Scholars’ Convocation. First, they plan to examine mechanisms by which Scholars’ Convocation could return to a weekly event. Second, they plan to explore ways to build stronger connections between Convocation and the curriculum.

Beyond Bean Counting: A more humanistic approach to assessing Grinnell students' individual curricula

Contact: Samuel Rebelsky

This planning project will create a group of faculty and staff to discuss and explore alternative approaches to supporting and assessing the success of Grinnell’s Individually Advised Curriculum (IAC) in ways more closely tied to our goals for the IAC than those used for the last reaccreditation, which focused primarily on counting courses taken in each division. They will likely consider mechanisms that explicitly require students to articulate their understanding of the liberal arts and to argue for the corresponding design of their four-year plans.

Grinnell College Film Society: Curricular Support, Community Building, Interdisciplinary Glue, and Creative Growth Serum for Film and Media Studies

Contact: Nicky Tavares

This project will begin planning for the future development of a Grinnell College Film Society. This is a weekly film series and visiting filmmaker program that directly supports new and existing film and media studies courses across disciplines and is open to the campus and greater Grinnell communities. The project will foster collaborations across disciplines and generate visibility and interest in film and media studies.

Exploring the Necessity and Feasibility of a Disability Cultural Center at Grinnell College

Contact: Autumn Wilke and Eliza Willis

This planning grant will explore the feasibility of launching a disability cultural center (DCC) at Grinnell College. A DCC is a safe space for individuals with disabilities to gather to connect, learn, grow, and feel a sense of community that is often shunned away in a society that highly values abled bodies and minds. During the planning phase, a team that includes at least one faculty, staff, and student from Grinnell will visit disability cultural centers on other campuses to gather information. They will also hold focus groups on campus to explore the need and feasibility of a DCC at Grinnell College.

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