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Transforming Learning for a Third Century funds its first projects

The Third Century Initiative is a powerful testament to our belief in the excellence and creativity of the human capital that is the University of Michigan. (collage graphic)ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan's Third Century Initiative has awarded $825,000 to two dozen projects designed to enhance action-based, experiential learning for students.

Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC), one of four programs encompassing the $50 million Third Century Initiative—along with M-Cubed, Global Challenges for a Third Century and the Learning Analytics Task Force—will provide grants of up to $50,000 each to 24 proposals, ranging from new applications of existing best practices to high-risk/high-reward experimental innovations.

The projects, which cut across a dozen schools and colleges and even more programs and units across campus, were selected through a competitive process involving nearly 60 proposals and are divided between TLTC's two options: Quick Wins and Discovery and Transformation.

Quick Wins provides up to $25,000 for relatively small-scale, "shovel-ready" projects that have transformative potential for curriculum, pedagogy and student learning.

Discovery and Transformation is a longer-term, two-phase funding program intended to inspire forward-thinking approaches to student learning beyond traditional resources and networks. The Discovery phase provides up to $50,000 for selected projects where a general hypothesis regarding teaching and learning can be questioned, explored and planned or piloted. Successful Discovery projects may then be submitted for the Transformation phase (awards range from $100,000 to $500,000).

About 70 percent of the funds ($575,000) awarded for the first round went to 13 Discovery projects. These include:

  • Bluecorps Technology Teaching Proposal: Helping faculty members develop skills and strategies for teaching with technology in the context of action-based learning courses (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts).
  • Bringing Entrepreneurial Skills to Students in the Arts: Education and institutional support for creative-arts entrepreneurial projects (School of Music, Theatre and Dance; U-M Library).
  • Change Agents for Transforming Society: Development of new dialogue and sociopolitical skills for public health professionals in complex and volatile situations in communities they serve (School of Public Health, Program on Intergroup Relations).
  • The University Detroit Center Connector: Linking Ann Arbor with Detroit, and Detroit with Ann Arbor: Providing regular shuttle service to unleash the full potential of civic engagement and student learning in collaboration with partners in Detroit (Semester in Detroit Program, U-M Detroit Center).

The remaining $250,000 awarded by TLTC went to 11 Quick Wins projects, including:

  • U-M Campus Farm/Sustainable Food Systems Program: Establishment of campus farm at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens as a living-learning laboratory focuses on the growing of food and sustainable agricultural practices (School of Natural Resources and Environment, Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute).
  • Living the Blues–Roots Music Immersion Curriculum: A three-pronged course to immerse students in American vernacular roots music—as scholars, instrument builders, performers—culminating in a faculty-supervised driving trip to New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta to engage people and places critical to the American roots music tradition first-hand (School of Music, Theatre and the Arts; College of LSA's American Culture).
  • College of Engineering Common Reading Program: Incorporate required book readings and discussions for all first-year students and possible community site visits relevant to the books (College of Engineering).
  • Development of Team Action Projects in Surgery: Develop an innovative and team-based approach to quality improvement and safety initiatives, integrating house officers and students into diverse, multilevel teams (Medical School's Department of Surgery).

The 24 winning projects across the two programs (Quick Wins and Discovery) were chosen by the Office of the Provost based on recommendations of the Student Learning Advisory Committee, comprised of eight faculty members across campus. Project descriptions can be found at http://www.provost.umich.edu/thirdcentury/student.html.

The Quick Wins program is currently accepting proposals through April 15 for its second round of funding, which will be announced by June 1. Discovery will likely launch another call for proposals in May.