2016-2017 Course Development Grant Recipients

2016–2017 Course Development Grant Recipients


Learning, Design, & Technology
G. Alex Ambrose, Ph.D.
Professor of the Practice, Kaneb Center for Teaching
Concurrent Faculty in the Education, Schooling, and Society Department
Fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives

Technology has always been used for learning--from the chalkboard in the one-room school to video lectures in massive open online courses. Regardless of time or place, the design of effective and innovative learning technologies must be grounded in research-based evidence reflecting what is known about how people learn. Incorporating design, research, and field-based perspectives, students will be tasked with investigating current/emergent learning technologies and theories across a range of applied contexts in education, business, nonprofits, and government. This hybrid course involves an experiential/community-based learning component requiring students to devote one weekly two-hour block of time to service in the local community. One face-to-face class meeting per week will be substituted with asynchronous interactions (i.e., online discussions and video lectures), independent/group studio time, and/or meetings with a community partner.

Developmental Neuroscience
Nancy Michael, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Neuroscience and Behavior

Classical developmental neuroscience is rooted solely in prenatal nervous system development. However, there is simply too much data demonstrating that our brains continue to develop well into our third decade of life to justify truncating “development” at birth. Therefore, this Developmental Neuroscience course breaks from the “Classical” paradigm and evaluates brain development from perinatal through late adolescent periods. The more we know about how early life environments affect the developing brain, long term potential, and outcomes of children, the more imperative it becomes to translate what is known in the primary literature to the general public so we can work to remedy the damage we are unknowingly doing to our children. Hence, in addition to critical analysis of primary literature, students participate in a semester-long in-service at a community partner organization of their choosing. The goal of the in-service is two fold: 1) to earn the trust and respect of the members of their community partner, 2) to learn what information around brain development could most benefit their community partner population. The in-service culminates with the development of an engaging, personalized brain health activity that addresses specific needs and knowledge gaps within their community partner’s population and motivates positive behavioral change.

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Political and Psychological Underpinnings
Laura Miller-Graff, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Peace Studies
Patrick Regan, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies

The objective of the course is to expose students to complex issues that underlie one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, that between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The core of the class will focus on literature addressing the underlying causes and consequences of the conflict. Experiential learning will be one of the foundational aspects of the course, and we will engage students through a combination of discussion, role playing, and importantly by spending the semester break in residence at the Tantur facility. We see this “site visit” as crucial to the overall direction of the class and in many ways it is akin to, and builds on, the community-based learning component included in both of our Introduction to Peace Studies courses. In designing the course, we will endeavor to make the use of local expertise and will plan our travel and activities in concert with Tantur directors. It is our hope that the course will provide students with the opportunity to better understand the enduring costs of conflict (economic, political, psychological and otherwise), and the power relationships among the actors, and the devastating effects of structural violence on human dignity.

Between God and The Party
Peter Casarella, Ph.D.
Rev. Robert Pelton, C.S.C.
Timothy Matovina, Ph.D.
Department of Theology

The Cuban revolution of 1959 created a very difficult situation for the Roman Catholic Church. Before the Communist Revolution the Church was associated with Spanish colonial rule and the interests of the wealthier classes. Afterwards, priests were jailed, and Christmas outlawed. The confrontational relationship between Church and State began to change in 1992 when Cuba declared itself a secular state and permitted openly Catholic Cubans to participate in the activities of the Communist Party. With the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1998, a real dialogue began to take shape. The subsequent visits of Popes Benedict (2012) and Pope Francis (2015) also established new relationships, as did the resumption of full diplomatic relationships between Cuba and the United States just prior to the visit of Pope Francis. During this course, special attention will be paid to: prophetic figures in Cuban history like Fr. Félix Varela, José Martí, and Fr. Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, dissidents, voices critical of the regime who use social media as well as Catholic voices of democratic opposition, religious pluralism and race relations, the leadership role of the Cuban bishops, the house Church movement in Cuba, and the religious and socio-cultural significance of Our Lady of Charity both on the island and in the diaspora community in Miami.


2016-17 Graduate Student Course Development Grant


Neighborhood Transformation
Michael Penta
Ph.D. Graduate Student, Sociology

Neighborhood transformation describes the process through which the demographic nature of a community changes over time. These sorts of changes occur regularly throughout the world, as populations and economic conditions shift within urban areas, leading different populations to intermingle in close proximity. The specific reason and character of individual changes are varied, demographic shifts of this nature often result in greater levels of diversity or heterogeneity within the area’s population. While these changes create greater levels of diversity and associated benefits, they also often have an effect on the economic and normative conditions of an area. While these changes create greater levels of diversity and benefits associated with that, changes of this sort regularly have the potential to create unproductive conflict or inequitable outcomes as they effect the economic and normative conditions of an area. This course will introduce students to this process of neighborhood change, and help them better understand the issues and dynamics that are created when groups with differing needs and expectations live in close proximity to one another. As a class, they will be introduced to and asked to investigate these dynamics as they exist in a local community in South Bend, the Near Northwest Neighborhood. Using field observations and interviews of a variety of different actors in the community, the students will be introduced to the tensions and concerns involved in a changing community, and the role that different actors and actions have on the ultimate outcome of those changes.

Practicum in Field Environmental Biology: Galápagos Islands
Gary Lamberti, Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Sciences
Malcolm Fraser, Ph.D.
Professor of Biological Sciences

During a nine-day field trip to the Galápagos archipelago during fall break, this undergraduate course will bring alive concepts of evolutionary biology, ecology, and environmental science as they occur in the unique setting of the famed Galápagos Islands. We will use the backdrop of global environmental change (e.g., climate change, invasive species, pollution) to amplify and illustrate the imprint of human activities on the planet that supports us. Readings from the Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si’, will frame the role of humans in protecting the environment for both humans and nature. Pre-trip classes will emphasize background knowledge important to understanding the unique features of the archipelago as they have influenced evolutionary and ecological theory. On-site lectures and activities will cover the physical and biological features of the archipelago, along with Charles Darwin’s seminal observations. Post-trip classes will summarize the major discoveries of the trip as presented by the students. This course is designed to maximize student engagement in their learning, and will draw students from all colleges across the University. Diverse student enrollment will form a “community of practice” whereby lessons learned by students will be transmitted to peers, while infusing and enriching their future careers.

Introduction to Ecological Horticulture
Rachel Novick, Ph.D.
Director of the Minor in Sustainability
Theri Niemier
Director of Bertrand Farm, Inc.

This course is an introduction to organic and sustainable food production. It will include principles and practices of healthy plant production, garden management and maintenance, harvest, post-harvest, food safety and marketing. This curriculum will address the environmental and social consequences of the industrial farming system, focusing on health injustices relating to accessibility of quality food and on climate change. With regard to climate change, the course will explore how sustainable agriculture plays a key role in both mitigation (through reduced input of fossil fuels and preservation of soil carbon) and adaptation (through enhanced community resiliency and local food production skills). Students will come away with an understanding of the role of agriculture in environmental restoration and feel empowered to positively influence healthy food systems. The class will teach a variety of interrelated social concerns including affordable access to healthy food, impacts of conventional farming on worker health and biodiversity, and availability of dignified work in food production. Community resiliency will be a theme running through the entire course, with a focus on how sustainable agriculture increases our capacity to respond to a changing climate expected to include increased drought, heat, and storm severity.