Pre-2010 Course Development Grant Recipients




2010–2011 Course Development Grant Recipients


Religion and Social Activism

Kraig Beyerlein

Assistant Professor of Sociology

In this three-credit, upper-division undergraduate sociology course, students will be exposed to the major topics, theories, and debates in the scholarly work on religion and social change. Particular attention will be paid to how different dimensions of religion shape social activism, the mechanisms through which religion mobilizes or demobilizes for social activism, and whether—and if so, how—religious-based activism is distinct from its secular counterpart. Students will identify a local religious community interested in having them attend events, meetings, and religious services for the purpose of learning from their activities. The course will give students the opportunity to develop the craft of analyzing critically a real-world case of religious-based social activism which they have experienced and observed. “Instead of relying on data that others have collected,” explains Beyerlein, “students will be writing about data they have personally collected and for which they know the faces, voices, passions, and struggles of the religious activists.” Students will share their findings with the communities that invited them to participate. 


The Anthropology of Human Rights

Cynthia Mahmood

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Anthropologists, whose work is centered on dialogue across cultural difference, are producing a fascinating and important literature on current efforts to understand how human rights are heard, understood and performed in a range of cultural contexts. In her new course, Professor Mahmood will engage students in this literature. In addition to reading works on the anthropology of human rights, students will attend weekly activities in the Sikh and Islamic communities of Michiana to learn first-hand about issues surrounding individuals’ status as refugees and to serve as bridges and translators across the cultural gap. “The course will combine the theoretical and the practical” writes Professor Mahmood, “so that students can serve local immigrant communities at the same time as they are learning, in a very concrete way, the issues involved in the actual implementation of universal human rights standards.”


Rhetoric of the American City

Charles T. Strauss

Graduate Student, Department of History

This course takes a community-based learning approach to teaching first year composition. Students will learn critical reasoning and academic writing skills by exploring the relationship between public discourse and built space in the American city. In addition to grappling with a diverse set of texts on urban life, students will gain experiential knowledge by serving at a neighborhood association in South Bend. Writing assignments will be aimed to meet certain needs of the neighborhood organizations where students work. Writing may focus on raising awareness about an important issue through an editorial, presenting a neighborhood history, or formulating a position paper for local government officials on a topic of special concern. An aim of the course is to motivate first year students to address challenges facing people who are poor in American cities.


2009–2010 Course Development Grant Recipients


“Change Agents in Schools” in Leadership in Catholic Schools IV

James M. Frabutt
Associate Professional Specialist, The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, Alliance for Catholic Education
Anthony C. Holter
Assistant Professional Specialist, The Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, Alliance for Catholic Education

This one-credit graduate course focuses on the broad-based dissemination of participatory, practitioner-driven action research and building strategies to sustain data-based inquiry in Catholic schools. The course is open only to graduate students in the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program and is required for completion of the degree in Master of Arts in Educational Administration. Each student will have completed a year-long, community-based action research project focused on an issue or phenomenon that is of particular importance in their school. This course aims to challenge students to maintain their momentum as powerful agents for change through action research.


Beyond the Islands: U.S. Latino Caribbean Literature and Culture

Marisel Moreno-Anderson
Assistant Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures

U.S. Latinos/as from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean have become a strong presence across the United States in the last century. This course examines literary works by Puerto Rican, Cuban-American, and Dominican-American authors. Readings from various disciplines such as history, sociology, and anthropology, along with two hours each week contributing with the local Hispanic community at Casa de Amistad, will help students understand the reasons behind the massive movements of peoples from the Hispanic Caribbean to the United States, as well as their current conditions in their new homeland. Issues of migration, trans-nationalism, biculturalism, poverty, gender, and racial and class discrimination will be central to our discussions. Knowledge of Spanish is required; class discussions and written work will be in Spanish. The course is cross-listed with Latino Studies and Latin American Studies.


“India Education” Action Research Seminar

Tamo Chattopadhay
Post-Doctoral Teaching Scholar, Institute for Educational Initiatives

This course will provide a unique experiential learning and action research opportunity for students in partnership with one of India’s leading educators, Sister Cyril Mooney, Principal of Loreto Day School in Kolkata. The hallmark of Sister Cyril’s vision of social justice is the “Rainbow School” – an innovative education program whereby Loreto School’s students from fifth grade onwards are required to act as student-teachers for the underprivileged children (mostly street children, child laborers, and children of families in extreme poverty) who participate in non- formal education activities on the rooftop of the school building. The Rainbow model of school within a school has fundamentally challenged the class, religion, and caste divisions of the Indian society and has engaged young people across the social divide into empowering and mutually enriching teaching-learning experiences. Notre Dame students taking this course will conduct instructor-guided qualitative research studies of child poverty, adolescents’ social exclusion, and innovative educational interventions targeted at the root causes of poverty and marginalization in India’s increasingly prosperous and unequal society.


2008–2009 Course Development Grant Recipients


“Disability” College Seminar

Essaka Joshua

Professional Specialist, College Seminar – Arts and Letters

This course enables students to better understand the nature of stigma, life narratives, quality of life issues, cultural representation, discrimination, institutions, and the civil rights movement. Students already volunteer at Logan Center, and Professor Joshua will use the grant to enhance the service-learning element further, and to initiate cultural and academic projects within the Notre Dame community. 

According to Professor Joshua, the course investigates "the cultural meanings attached to extraordinary bodies and minds." In her grant proposal, she notes that scholarship has explored identities associated with race and gender, but much less so the cultural perceptions that concern those with disabilities. Using an interdisciplinary perspective, Professor Joshua aims to broaden and deepen students' understanding of central issues concerning the wide range of responses to disability in the world today and in history.


Dramatic Text, Production, and Social Concerns

Anthony Juan, Jr.

Professor, Film, Television, and Theatre

This course development grant will provide support to Professor Anton Juan of the Film, Television, and Theatre Department as he integrates a new theatre production into his course titled “Dramatic Text, Production, and Social Concerns.” The production will be a collaborative effort between students from his class and youth residents of the South Bend Correctional Facility. An imaginary mirror will provide the portal into the process. Participants will address questions such as “What is it I want to say to the world,” and “How would the world respond?” as they look into the mirror. Professor Juan notes that “The mirror is not simply a metaphor but a process of piecing together the unseen, perhaps hidden broken parts, of the self.” It also provides a way for participants to see themselves as others might see them. ​


Living Lean: Rhetoric of Sustainability in Modern Media

Connie Mick

Assistant Professional Specialist, University Writing Program

In this course, students will study the history of the environmental movement in the United States and participate in local sustainability efforts. They will, in Professor Mick’s words, “learn classical rhetoric and multimedia skills that will help them analyze and enter current conversations on energy and ecological sustainability.” She intends the course to be a good companion to next year’s University forum, which will focus on energy sustainability. The course will ask students to participate actively in sustainability efforts in the local community to, “supplement their textual research with a visceral understanding of what is at stake for their environment and their lives.” With support from this grant, Professor Mick will develop community engagement opportunities such as with the Merry Lea Environmental Center of Goshen College, at Berrien County landfill, with GreeND, and working with local co-ops and farmers’ markets dedicated to agricultural sustainability.


Research and Documentation of Historic Buildings

Krupali Uplekar

Assistant Professor, Architecture

Students enrolled in this course have the opportunity to learn important historic preservation techniques that further their careers while serving the community of South Bend. The exposure to real life issues faced by the community gives them the possibility to interact on higher levels of understanding and with realistic suggestions for improvement. , to enhance the community engagement aspects of her course, “Research and Documentation of Historic Buildings” offered through the college of architecture. Students in this course identify structures owned or controlled by the city that are of historical value, in a state of disrepair and potentially slated for demolition. Students will then conduct extensive documentation of the sites, which includes digital imaging analysis of building materials, and understanding of environmental impacts and structural soundness. A plan of action for restoration will then be developed. The results of the student studies can be utilized by the department of Community and Economic Development and the Historic Preservation Commission. The research is primarily aimed toward improvement of community and governmental understanding of development required to help downtown South Bend become more of a pedestrian friendly, crime free, healthy city.  


2007–2008 Course Development Grant Recipients


Literacy in the Classroom and in the World

Katherine Zieman

Assistant Professor, English

This course, a University Literature Seminar for first-year students, will address issues of reading and writing acquisition. Literary texts to be read will call attention to the social implications of literacy, some depicting it as a source of salvation such as The Life of Frederick Douglass, others voicing concern about the place of writing in our technological age, for example, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 401. In addition to reading, discussing, and writing about these texts, students will be involved in some form of literacy tutoring each week. Possible tutoring sites include the Read to a Child Program, the Literacy Council, or the Robinson Community Learning Center. 

According to Professor Zieman, the course will “allow students to…consider what larger social, political, and economic factors influence definitions and uses of literacy in any given culture as well as how institutions of education are charged with disseminating certain forms of knowledge within particular communities.” 

“It is my hope,” she writes, “that such experiences will lead [students] to a deeper understanding of the community in which they are living…and ultimately to a more profound appreciation of the complexity of education and literacy in America today.”


Senior Research Seminar

Stuart Greene

Associate Professor, English

Stuart Greene, Associate Professor of English and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Letters, for the "Senior Research Seminar" for the Education, Schooling and Society minor students, funded through a Corporation for National and Community Service Grant

Professor Greene's course is "an introduction to conducting research in the area of literacy teaching and learning." He includes within his conception of literacy such wide-ranging concerns as motivation, nutrition, high-stakes testing, parent involvement, and culturally-relevant teaching.  Students will ground their questions in the issues facing students, teachers, parents, and administrators in the local school corporation.  As this is the kind of research that values all of the stakeholders who may be affected by the research and for whom the research may be relevant, students will have ample opportunity to meet and collaborate with local teachers, administrators, parents, and students in order to develop their research questions, methodology, and findings.

As students work on their research they will also read a number of studies that model this kind of research, enabling them to examine both the benefits and limitations of a wide range of research methods: discourse, analysis of classroom interactions, observation, case studies, focus groups, interviews, and the like.  Central to the analysis will be the ways language interacts with identity and power, that is,  how literacy is distributed, who gets to speak and who is silenced, in schooling and in culture.  Thus, such questions will be discussed as "Does the prevailing distribution of literacy conform to standards of social justice?" and "What policies might promote such standards?"

In the end, students will share their "findings" in an effort to inform different stakeholders' understanding of the conditions that have the potential to foster - or impede - literacy learning.


Energy Policy, the Environment and Social Change

Alexandre Chapeaux

Doctoral Candidate, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Felipe Witchger

Undergraduate student, Class of 2008, Energy Studies and Economics Major

Their course, titled "Energy Policy, the Environment and Social Change," will examine the role of energy in society and the impact of current energy use on the environment. Students will review the benefits and problems--economic, geopolitical, and social--associated with America's current dependence on fossil fuels as well as the opportunities and challenges of transitioning to a more sustainable energy economy. Finally, students will examine the relationship between energy consumption and environmental ethics, especially as understood in Catholic social tradition.

This course will add to the list of one-credit seminars offered to Notre Dame students every year that take them to sites away from campus. In this case, students will participate in a week-long immersion in Washington, DC over fall break. During this week, students will be visiting industry lobbyists, policy makers and government officials, environmental organizations, and federal regulatory agencies in their quest to learn about the limitations of and rational for current energy policies and environmental regulation. 


2006–2007 Course Development Grant Recipients


Theatre and Social Activism

Wendy Arons

Assistant Professor, Film, Television, and Theatre

Wendy Arons, Assistant Professor in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, will be developing a course titled "Theatre and Social Activism."  The course will involve investigation of techniques for creating activist, grassroots theatre, and creation of original theatre pieces addressing social concerns in the local community. The class will culminate in public performance of the students’ own “activist theatre.” A goal of the course, according to Arons, “is for each student to find ways of moving the audience to act and demand change.” 


Researching Disease: Methods in Medical Anthropology

Daniel Lende

Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Daniel Lende’s new course,“ Researching Disease: Methods in Medical Anthropology,” will involve students in hands-on learning of research methods in anthropology, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, substance use and abuse, and breast cancer. According to Lende, “The main learning goal of the class is that students end with the confidence and capability to go out and do ethnographic research on social problems.”


African Americans and U.S. Politics

Alvin Tillery

Assistant Professor, Political Science

Assistant Professor of Political Science Alvin Tillery will use his course development grant to integrate community engagement into his course titled “African Americans and U.S. Politics.”  The course examines themes related to the socio-historical development of blackness as a sociopolitical identity in America.  One of the aims of the course is to challenge students to engage in critical self-reflection about their obligations to promote social justice. His students will present on issues of racism to students in local schools, and facilitate discussions during black history month.


Globalization, Coffee, and the Fair Trade Movement

Robert Brenneman

Graduate student, Sociology

Robert Brenneman is a graduate student in sociology. His course, to be titled “Globalization, Coffee and the Fair Trade Movement,” will look at the impact of globalization on people at the global margins, especially in economically depressed Central America. Students will participate in an eight day cross cultural trip to Guatemala. A goal of the class is for students to elaborate a plan for promoting fairness and social justice in one particular area of economic exchange and take preliminary steps to implement it.  


Identity, Social Ethics, and Psychology

Tom Bushlack

Doctoral candidate, Theology

Victor Carmona

Graduate student, Theology

Mignon Montpetit

Doctoral candidate, Psychology

Tom Bushlack, a Ph.D. candidate in moral theology; Victor Carmona, a masters student in theological studies; and Mignon Montpetit, a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology, are developing “Identity, Social Ethics, and Psychology.” The course will explore how Catholic social teaching and psychological research might engage in a creative dialogue to foster appreciation of identify formation and the justice issues that impact human development. Throughout the semester, students will work with local organizations that focus on migration, aging, or race relations.


Environmental Justice and Human Rights Seminar

Richard Pierce

Chair, Africana Studies

Najarian Peters

Law Student, St. Charles, Louisiana

Najarian Peters, a third year law student from St. Charles, Louisiana, came to the Center after the hurricanes last fall, wanting to create an opportunity through which students could go to the affected area to learn and contribute. With the collaboration of Dr. Richard Pierce, chair of Africana Studies, Jari led developed and led a one-credit seminar on environmental justice and human rights, through which undergraduates went to New Orleans this past spring break. Jari will be returning to Louisiana and will be the contact person there for the seminar over the next two years.


2005–2006 Course Development Grant Recipients


Community Research Practicum

Mark Gunty

Assistant Professor, Sociology

Mark Gunty, of the Department of Sociology, is developing  a course for sociology undergraduates to be titled “Community Research Practicum.” This course will give students the opportunity to conduct research for community organizations in St. Joseph County. Building on skills developed in a prerequisite course on methods of sociological research, students will help local organizations evaluate effectiveness of their programs, conduct needs assessment, or do other kinds of empirical research. Students will work with representatives of organizations to articulate the research question, develop the methods for addressing those questions validly, resolve measurement issues, and collect appropriate data. The primary focus of the course is for students to learn how to put research skills at the service of the community.


Wireless Communications: The Technology and Impact of Anytime/Anywhere Connectivity

Yih-Fang Huang

Professor, Electrical Engineering

Daniel J. Costello, Jr.

Bettex Professor, Electrical Engineering

Yih-Fang Huang is Professor and Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Daniel J. Costello, Jr., Bettex Professor of Electrical Engineering, with the assistance of two graduate students, will be developing a course entitled “Wireless Communications – The Technology and Impact of Anytime/Anywhere Connectivity.” Through this course, engineering and non-engineering students will gain a basic understanding of the technical, regulatory, and business aspects of the wireless revolution and its impact on society. Teams of students will work on specific projects in the local community. For example, students may work with local health organizations to study the impact of cell phones on health and how to minimize negative impact.


To Serve and Ancient Village in China: Historical Preservation, Religious Life, and Teaching English

Jonathan Noble

Associate Professional Specialist, East Asian Languages and Literatures

Jonathan Noble, of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, will be developing a course to be titled "To Serve an Ancient Village in China: Historical Preservation, Religious Life, and Teaching English.” Notre Dame students go to China through a program with the Council on International Education Exchange, or CIEE. Students who have participated in this program have expressed a desire for a Notre Dame-taught curriculum while in China, that provides them with greater opportunities for on-site learning, research, and service. The course Professor Noble will be developing will respond to this request. Though other students may enroll, the course will first target those going to China through CIEE. The eight to ten students in the course will participate in a series of classes prior to their departure to China, a two-day intensive orientation at Zhejiang Normal University in Zhejiang Province upon their arrival, a seven day on site immersion of learning and service, a two day closing retreat at Hangzhou University in the city of Hangzhou before leaving China, and a final presentation at Notre Dame.


The Ethics of Energy Conservation

Margie Pfeil

Assistant Professor, Theology

Wilasa Vichit-Vadakan

Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences

Margie Pfeil, Assistant Professor in Theology, and Wilasa Vichit-Vadakan, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, will be developing a course entitled “The Ethics of Energy Conservation.” Students in this course will use the campus as a “trial laboratory” for measuring energy efficiency and thinking creatively about possible energy conservation measures. They will then conduct a limited energy efficiency and conservation study for selected non-profit organizations in the South Bend community. Instructors will model the integration of ethics with scientific considerations by incorporating both theological and engineering content in each class meeting, using a seminar-based discussion format to engage students in sustained discourse connecting both disciplines.


Social Problems Through Films

David Ortiz

Graduate student, Sociology

David Ortiz, a graduate student in the Department of Sociology. He will be integrating community engagement into a course titled “Social Problems Through Films.” Students in this course will synthesize sociological theories and concepts to understand how a number of social challenges affect both society and the individual. The class will guide students to move beyond individual explanations of social problems into deeper comprehension of how the social structures of society contribute to maintain conditions. Students will work in collaboration with a number of local organizations that address various issues studied in the course, for example, addiction, discrimination, immigrant population issues, and crime.

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