2007-2008 Funded Projects

Art Work-Out: Visual Arts in the Gym - $15,000

Professor Wendy Jacob and Ms. Andrea Frank, Architecture

This project will assist in the development and realization of a new Visual Arts Program introductory studio subject to be taught in collaboration with the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) in Spring 2008. This course is part of a larger pilot project the Visual Arts Program is developing that uses particular locations, systems, or conditions as its thematic base. The project proposes to use DAPER's sports arenas (gymnasiums, natatoriums, and playing fields) as sites for artistic production and critical analysis. The "site" includes the arenas' architecture, equipment, and activities.

Confronting the New Third World Challenge - $20,000

Dr. Reinhard Goethert, Architecture

In response to the now accepted doubling of the Third World population and the tripling of the urban footprint expected by 2030, Dr. Goethert will re-center the course "The New Practitioner" to identify proactive strategies for approaching these issues. The course is to be re-formatted as a challenge-based, hands-on curriculum, bringing in recognized experts to excite and challenge students through progressive levels of exploration. A culminating 2-week field-based workshop in a Third World country will present students the opportunity to confront and compare the realities on the ground with the experiences of the class.

Imaging of Materials - $20,000

Professor Silvija Gradecak, Materials Science and Engineering

Professor Gradecak will develop a course to cover topics like electron microscopy and scanning probe microscopy, essential tools in materials science and beyond, in a new and exciting fashion. Each lecture will cover a topic that is based on a real-case scenario typically encountered in research, using examples obtained by undergraduate students as part of MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities program (UROP). In this way, undergraduates students will play an active and important role in the education of their peers.

Learning Fundamental Concepts and Skills in the Mechanical Engineering Core - $20,000

Professor Warren Seering, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Lori Breslow, Teaching and Learning Laboratory

This project builds upon two years of pedagogical innovation and educational research undertaken by several dozen faculty in the department of Mechanical Engineering and led by Professor Seering. That work led to important insights into how students approach learning in MechE, and, correspondingly, to an understanding of the pedagogies that facilitate their learning. Over the next three years this new project will focus specifically on identifying both core concepts (called "enduring understanding" in the literature) and the fundamental skill of "engineering reasoning" and devising strategies to teach them more successfully.

Mapping Controversies - $20,000

Professor Vincent Antonin Lepinay, Program in Science, Technology, and Society

The goal of "Mapping Controversies" is to teach undergraduate students how to account for and to map techno-scientific controversies which are rife with uncertainties and dilemmas; objects of advanced technical expertise; and simultaneously, intensely entangled with legal, moral, economic and social questions. Students will learn how to describe these contentious arenas in the most scientific manner and they will present their findings on web sites available to the general public. The course will develop aptitudes for qualitative investigation that are complementary to the capacities of the formalization, modeling, analysis, and calculation required in other courses at the Institute.

Revising the Introductory Biology Laboratory Curriculum - $20,000

Professors Dennis Kim and Thomas Schwartz, Biology

The methods of modern experimental biology are continuing to evolve rapidly and are driving the explosion of new discoveries, from evolutionary insights at the level of the genomes of organisms to the structural insights from the atomic-level description of proteins and nucleic acids. Professors Kim and Schwartz will modernize course 7.02 (Introduction to Experimental Biology), re-vamping the curriculum, updating the methods of molecular biology and protein purification, and introducing the use of model organism Caenorhabiditis elegans to provide experience in genetic analysis and methods of RNA interference.

Reviving World Literatures: A New Approach to 21L.007 - $12,900

Professors Mary Fuller, Alisa Braithwaite and Sarah Brouillette, Literature

Professors Fuller, Braithwaite and Bouillette will re-imagine the goals for course 21L.007 (World Literatures) helping position MIT as a leader in making the global contexts for cultural production and reception integral to undergraduate experience of literary study. Their plan includes making the course available once per year in multiple sections starting in Fall 2008; co-teaching the course and structuring class time to include both individual-lead seminar discussions and general lectures attended by everyone enrolled in the course; and promoting the class as a way of complicating the divide between Western literary forms and "other" literatures as a means of influencing students' subsequent engagements with literary study. The goals of the project are to enhance literary study for students at MIT by emphasizing cross-cultural understanding and exchange; to develop resources and expertise as instructors whose interests cross borders and encompass Western and non-Western forms; and to make MIT's humanities offerings more reflective of the Institute's vanguard position in global education.

The Fisher Files Pod Cast - $3,200

Professor Peter Fisher, Physics

PodCasts offer a new avenue for education that students can tap into at any time outside of the constraints of scheduled class time. Professor Fisher's project would produce a weekly program devoted to time management, organization, life skills, etc. oriented to those in an academic environment. More broadly, the project would explore ways of connecting one's larger life aims with the two hundred tasks one performs each day. The PodCast of twelve episodes would be aimed at students and scientists early in their careers with the additional goal of reaching those outside of MIT. Professor Fisher will make the equipment, software, and expertise available to anyone wanting to start their own PodCast for the MIT Community.

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