Faculty can apply for small grants from the Office of the Provost to support faculty development. These grants come in two general categories:
Mellon Interdisciplinary Project Grants
The following internal grants were evaluated through a competitive process and will be supported by a $100,000 "new president's priority" grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grants will allow groups of faculty to explore, expand, deepen, plan, and/or assess interdisciplinary activities.
We propose the development of an interdisciplinary area in the burgeoning discipline of Contemplative Studies. In recent years many institutions of higher education—including Brown, Rice, Emory, Smith, Bryn Mawr, UC–San Diego, CSU–San Bernardino, Lesley, Burlington, Catholic and Naropa—have begun to offer academic and/or clinical programs that incorporate practices and perspectives inspired by the world’s contemplative traditions and powerfully relevant to contemporary concerns. These programs are as distinctive as the institutions in which they have been developed and as diverse as the faculty, students and staff whose interests they reflect. The one we propose draws upon Lawrence’s already strong commitments to interdisciplinarity and diversity by opening new networks of communication among disciplines as varied as music, biomedical ethics, film studies, neuroscience, gender studies, and innovation and entrepreneurship. In particular, we believe our proposal takes interdisciplinarity a step further, in that contemplative practices and perspectives can be fruitfully incorporated into—and potentially transform—any of the arts, sciences, and humanities.
Contemplative Studies refers to a range of practices and perspectives that promote an integration of modes of knowing whereby the abstract and rational faculties that are the mainstay of higher education are balanced and complemented by the subjective, reflective, intuitive and experiential. Contemplative practices are quite varied, but we envision a contemplative studies program at Lawrence would draw heavily on three interrelated types:
mindfulness practices: quieting the mind for the purpose of developing greater powers of attention and concentration;
somatic, visual and sonic awareness practices: Alexander Technique, slow looking, deep listening, for the purpose of developing deeper introspective experience of the phenomena in which we place our attention;
loving kindness and compassion practices: opening the heart to oneself and to others in order to more fully engage with the objects of our experience (e.g., by overcoming the consequences of habitual but unhelpful forms of self-criticism, competitiveness and performance anxiety) and to promote among members of the Lawrence community greater cooperation and respect for diverse points of view.
In the next year we aspire to re-examine and re-imagine our major in response to the changing face of the faculty, the needs of our students, as well national trends in the field of environmental sustainability. To achieve this, we propose two strategies. First we would host a 2-day workshop for the ENST faculty and those interested in participating in the program at Bjørklunden in the summer of 2015. The facilitators of the workshop are expected to provide us with a document describing our programs strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. At present we have firm commitments for the workshop from faculty representing biology, geology, English, history, government and anthropology, and we expect to entrain other colleagues as summer plans solidify. We feel strongly that a retreat away from campus will provide an environment more conducive to achieving results.
The second strategy is to send a leadership team of 3 faculty to a national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the National Council for Science and the Environment, or the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS). The leadership team would be responsible for reporting back to the broader group at the summer workshop. What exciting opportunities are out there? What ‘best practices’ might we incorporate into our own program? The leadership team would have a diverse composition by age and faculty rank, and would include one member each from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
We faculty and staff involved in Ethnic Studies believe that our program can benefit substantially from an evaluation of our strengths and weaknesses, particularly since we have not undergone a review in the past; moreover, an evaluation in conjunction with an external consultant would be especially useful for learning about potential pitfalls and successful models as we move toward building an Ethnic Studies major here at Lawrence. We will focus on the following questions as we prepare to strengthen our program: Why Ethnic Studies? What are the main goals of an Ethnic Studies program? What are our programmatic strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis faculty, students and staff? How can we build on our strengths and address our weaknesses? As an interdisciplinary program, how should Ethnic Studies relate to other academic disciplines? And, as a praxis-oriented program, how should Ethnic Studies enhance campus life and surrounding off-campus communities?
Phase two would be a theory symposium dealing with the latest in critical race theory and ethnic studies theory. We feel that it is especially important to strengthen the theoretical component of our curriculum as we develop a major. Through participation in the symposium led by an expert in race and Ethnic Studies theory, Lawrence faculty will be better able to strengthen the incorporation of theory into core and cross-listed Ethnic Studies courses; such enhancement would not only add to the quality of our courses but also would bolster connections among our various courses, making for a more cohesive minor and major.
Many individuals have joined the Lawrence faculty since the early workshops that eventually led to the Gender Studies major and minor in 1999. For that reason, we are now proposing to offer two seminars for interested faculty to reimagine the gender studies program.
In the first seminar, Gender and Feminist Theory Across Disciplines, we will bring in a specialist in gender and feminist theory to help us explore which core theories are essential to teach in our theory (GEST 200) course. Like many interdisciplinary areas that include work across the humanities and the sciences, there is a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches in gender studies. Understanding the various epistemologies underlying these approaches will provide important background as we reexamine which theories are taught in our courses.
The second seminar, New Directions in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, will be open to all faculty interested in gender studies. Here is where we envision doing our most creative work. First we hope to examine new theoretical developments and methodologies that will help us to name fresh curricular goals. What new perspectives should we include? What innovative courses might we incorporate that will mesh with current faculty interests and expertise? How can we think more globally as we retool our program?
The grant monies will allow us to involve more faculty as we rethink and revitalize Gender Studies at Lawrence.
The planning process would begin by fall of 2014 and include a series of activities that would gather together faculty from different disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and fine arts, to discuss the conceptual and structural framework of a new Global Studies program for Lawrence. Specifically, the grant would sponsor two workshops that would address the following questions: (1) what are the main goals of a global studies program at Lawrence?; (2) how do different disciplines understand the study of globalization?; (3) what are the strengths that existing faculty and programs in the humanities, fine arts, natural sciences and social sciences bring to a new Global Studies program?; (4) how would a Global Studies major/minor complement and enhance existing programs, including Lawrence’s established strengths in foreign languages, as well as area study programs, international studies, ethnics studies, global health and other interdisciplinary programs?
We write to propose a project that will result in long-term collaboration between religious studies and the art department. Our aim is to introduce a co-taught course entitled “Structures of Power in Mediterranean Cities.” This course will mix the methodologies of art history (close study of objects) and religious studies (systems of valuation). In addition we are planning a studio art component that will give students an introduction to some facet of material culture covered in the course (ceramics, images, calligraphy, architecture, etc.).
Briefly, this course will look at the changing built environment of Mediterranean cities as they develop through successive regimes of secular power and the waxing and waning of dominant belief systems. The fundamental question of the course will be how new regimes appropriate and exploit existing sites of religious authority in an attempt to project their authority. Two paradigmatic examples of this process are Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which served as the imperial church during the Byzantine era and a mosque during the Ottomon Empire before being converted to a museum under the secular government of the 20th century; and the Great Mosque in Damascus, which was built on the site of a church dedicated to John the Baptist, which itself had replaced a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter, which, in turn, had grown out of an Aramean temple to Hadad-Ramman. Both sites continue to be contentious: there are growing calls to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, and the Great Mosque has been fiercely contested, and badly damaged, during the current civil war. This course, then, will present the continual conversion of cityscapes as a historical phenomenon with potent contemporary relevance.
At a time when new imaging technologies allow us better and deeper glimpses of a working brain, new questions abound concerning brain function and distinctively human forms of cognition. How is moral judgment shaped by reflex reactions and controlled cognitive processes? Is there a neuroscientific approach to religious belief and experience? Does the brain process literary fiction differently than formula fiction? How do perception, emotion and cognitive processing yield creative expression? Or more generally, how does brain research bear on the humanities? Asking these important questions will not only impact the campus discourse, but can also lead to important curricular developments. With these goals in mind, we propose two primary sets of activities: 1) organize a year-long speaker series (we propose 5 speakers, see Appendix for a list of potential speakers) during the 2015-2016 academic year that will feature experts who are on the forefront of examining how brain research is connected to various areas of the humanities such as religious studies, philosophy, music, art and literature and 2) organize a faculty symposium to assess the current curriculum and propose possible curricular changes based on the new body of shared knowledge acquired through the speaker series. We anticipate this endeavor to bring together not only two interdisciplinary areas (Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, hereafter collectively termed brain science), but also to serve as a catalyst for student and faculty engagement and enduring connections and collaborations between brain science and the humanities at Lawrence. The timing is optimal to initiate and foster these connections given the recent creation of a Neuroscience major and the current renovation of the Cognitive Science minor.
We recognize untapped potential for interdisciplinary collaborations at the interface of brain science and the humanities, both within the academic community at large and upon Lawrence’s campus. Such collaborations could provide opportunities for learning not only how brain function engenders humanistic endeavors but also how such endeavors influence and shape brain function. One could argue that the interface of brain science and the humanities is central to the mission of the liberal arts college, where faculty and students collaborate across the disciplinary boundaries that often separate them at larger research institutions.
(See chapter VI of the faculty handbook for more detailed information about applying for and administering internal grants)