2020-21 Curriculum Impact Grants Awarded to CHSS Faculty

by Anne Reynolds

2020-21 Curriculum Impact Grants Awarded to CHSS Faculty
Mark Ginsberg, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

The Office of the Provost has announced its Curriculum Impact Grants for 2020. This seed grant program encourages the development of innovative curricular ideas and pilot programs that enhance Mason Impact and cross-unit, multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate curriculum development. This year, the Faculty and Curricular Activities committee and a team of peer reviewers evaluated 18 submissions and selected eight curricular projects to fund.

Of the grants awarded, four projects include faculty from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Activist-Artist: Art as an Engine of Social Justice

Wendi Manuel-Scott (School of Integrative Studies; African and African American Studies, Cultural Studies, and Women and Gender Studies programs; Department of History and Art History, ) and Julie Trkula (School of Integrative Studies) will work with colleagues from the Green Machine, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the School of Business to create a new Mason Impact course module, The Activist-Artist: Art as an Engine of Social Justice. This year-long project-based learning opportunity will allow students from across the university to investigate an issue of significance to society such as systemic inequalities, the consequences of racial or gender biases, or environmental degradation.

Each year, student input will help select a meaningful research question that will contribute to a related field of study. Students will research the question at hand, construct their own understanding of how knowledge is created, and determine how they can use art to communicate that knowledge to others. Academic study will inform experiential learning as students collectively design, manage, and produce a work of art that will confront the power structure they intend to influence or dismantle. 

Enhancing Cross-Cultural Engagement and Collaboration at Mason through Explorations of Global Health Challenges

This project includes Cortney Hughes Rinker (Department of Sociology and Anthropology), and Andrew Lee, the social sciences librarian at Mason’s Fenwick Library, along with faculty representing the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) and INTO Mason. It aims to develop two scaffolded, co-located courses that focus on compelling, international health challenges: outbreaks of diseases that are vaccine-preventable, increasing rates of obesity, drug addiction, lack of access to mental health care, impacts of environmental pollution and climate change on health, humanitarian crises, drug-resistant pathogens, and aging populations. Through cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary dialogue and research, the course will integrate students from CHSS and CHHS, working alongside INTO Mason students, to examine these health challenges and possible medical and non-medical solutions.

From Exploring Pathways to Developing Opportunities for Community Engagement and Social Justice in an Interprofessional Micro-Credential Program

This program, which includes Carrie Bonilla, Ellen Serafini, and Esperanza Román-Mendoza (Spanish Program, Department of Modern and Classical Languages), with faculty from CHHS, seeks to build an interprofessional micro-credential program that will prepare Mason students to meet the healthcare and social service needs of Spanish-speaking immigrant communities, who make up 16% or more of the total U.S. population. The students will learn through competency-based modules and one immersion or experiential learning module, and will further their learning in the areas of civic engagement, language, cultural knowledge, and intercultural communication. Ultimately, these students will be better prepared to address health disparities and social inequities experienced by ethnic and linguistic minority communities in the U.S.

The STEM in Society Minor

This proposed new minor includes Brian Platt and Larrie Ferreiro (Department of History and Art History), Cortney Hughes Rinker (Department of Sociology and Anthropology), Vita Chalk, CHSS associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs, and faculty from CHHS, the College of Science, and Volgenau School of Engineering.

As science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) become more integrated into people’s everyday lives, knowledge of tech industries – how advances are developed, how they fit into the wider context of society and culture, and how historical contexts have in turn shaped advances in these fields – offers students a broad perspective of how these industries impact the human experience. This minor features coursework that spans across CHSS, CHHS, VSE, and the College of Science to equip students to solve real world social, medical, technological, and environmental problems, while bolstering their skills in framing technical knowledge in a narrative structure.