EXL Faculty Initiatives

Grant for community-engaged courses (CECs)

The EX[L] Center at UA is pleased to be able to offer small grants (up to $1000 each) to support UA courses that incorporate community engagement through community-based research and/or service-learning. 

For an instructor to receive funding, the course must include all enrolled students in some form of engagement with local or regional community partners (Akron and Northeast Ohio).

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis each semester and projects are funded until funds are depleted.

Grant guidelines and application

Recent recipients of community-engaged course grants

Congratulations to the Spring 2018 award recipients:

  • Dr. Wei Zhang, associate professor of English, teaches Grammatical Structure of Modern English as part of Teaching English as a Second Language certification. Students in the course will participate in a field experience in the Tallmadge City Schools, which will include “push in” instructional support and homework support for 13 ESL students.
  • Dale Dong, an assistant lecturer in the Myers School of Art, is the instructor of Portrait Lighting 800. He will teach techniques for portrait lighting as applied to fine art portraiture, business portraiture, commercial portraiture and conceptual portraiture and his students will collaborate with the graduating class of Akron Alternative Academy, and actors and dancers at The Akron School for the Arts program at Firestone CLC. 
  • Drew Ippoliti, assistant professor of instruction in the Myers School of Art, will employ community-engaged course funding in his Myers Forum Studio course, subtitled the Modelled City. In collaboration with artists from Nova Scotia and Detroit, along with Dr. Petra Gruber, an associate professor of art and biology here, Ippoliti’s students will interview Akron residents and meet with urban planning experts from the city of Akron. The collaboration will lead to the creation of an exhibit that evolves connections between the city and the University.
  • Dr. Melanie G. McCoskey, an associate professor of accountancy in the College of Business Administration, has created an ongoing program for students in accounting. These students get real-world experience by preparing tax returns for low-income individuals in the Akron community. They prepare federal, state and city tax returns for approximately 1,000 individuals each year in collaboration with United Way, which assists with efiling of federal and state returns.
  • Christin L. Seher, an assistant professor of practice in the School of Nutrition and Dietetics, will lead Community Nutrition II students in a “Pay It Forward” engagement with Akron-based community agencies. The students will have hands-on opportunities to apply didactic content learned in class, including the basics of community needs assessment, program planning and evaluation, and grant writing.

Fall 2017, award recipients:

  • Pat Millhoff, whose class Legal Aspects of Corrections will bring UA students and reintegrating offenders together so students can understand family issues and consider constitutional rights as they work with prison administration to create and run a family event with inmates in a women’s correctional facility,
  • Amber Ferris, whose course, Principles of Social Media, will work with a community-based non-profit to apply what they learn in class to helping one low-resourced partner increase capacity, and
  • Jodi Kearns, whose students in Foundations of Museums and Archives, will learn theory and historical practices before being mentored as they survey collections, develop processing strategies, engage in preservation, and ultimately make the collections they curate publically available online for researchers around the world. This course offers real-world experience and an essential job skill for young professionals seeking to enter the archiving field.

Faculty-driven initiatives (FDIs)

At The University of Akron, experiential learning has a long, strong history.  In an effort to encourage and support this strength, and to expand the opportunities for students, the EX[L] Center supports a number of faculty-led proposals each year. The FDI program offers grants to support faculty research projects that directly sustains their scholarship while incorporating innovative experiential learning opportunities for UA students.

These are innovative ideas that challenge barriers faculty face in creating successful hands-on, team-based, problem-centered learning. Projects that align teaching powerfully with faculty research have been particularly successful.

Examples of previously funded FDIs are available on request.  As a faculty-led program, we are inviting all tenured, tenure track (TT), and non-tenure track (NTT) faculty to apply.

FDI request for proposals

Faculty Projects Win EXL Center Funding

Congratulations to the 2017-18 FDI competition awardees:

  • Dr. Shanon Donnelly (Geosciences) has been awarded $7,580 for A Comparison of Current and Historical Vegetation on Sites Mapped by A.B. Williams in the Early 20th Century. Building on recent efforts by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, this project contributes geo-referenced historical maps and a current inventory of the plants and animals in these areas which will allow a unique assessment of what has and has not changed over the last century in Northeast Ohio.
  • Dr. Elisa Gargarella (Art) will use $6000 to expand the academic impact of her work. A recipient of Knight Foundation funding for Art Bomb Brigade, Gargarella and the Myers School of Art are now transforming this important contribution to place-making in Akron into an experiential learning course for Spring 2018. The course partners with Community Support Services of Summit County, an organization providing health care to individuals living with mental illness. Gargarella’s proposal adds social science data collection and video documentation of this course allowing her and her students to explore this approach to art therapy and consider the impact of such community engagement.