School of Education and Social Policy faculty members Regina Lopata Logan, Marcelo Worsley and Elizabeth Gerber have received Faculty Innovation in Diversity and Equity grants from the Northwestern University Office of the Provost.
Overall, the Office of the Provost granted 12 faculty initiatives totaling $154,788 to enhance campus diversity across the spectrum, including race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, age and political affiliation.
Logan, a research assistant professor and director of the Foley Longitudinal Study of Adulthood, will use the grant to take a diverse group of faculty to the Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) Faculty Institute at the University of Michigan. IGD methods focus on face-to face interactions across social identities and can be used as a strategy for teaching in classroom discussion.
Her project, “Towards a Pedagogy of Equity and Inclusion: Dialogic Processes in the Classroom” builds on processes introduced in Northwestern’s Change Makers program, which works to produce a more inclusive campus environment. Logan’s goal is to help faculty create equitable classrooms and serve as resources for inclusive teaching methods in their own schools and across colleges.
“The faculty also will gain a deeper understanding of unconscious bias issues, which will help them make a greater impact on search committees, tenure committees and University task forces,” Logan said.
Worsely, Gerber, Piper to create truly inclusive Making environments
The “Making” revolution, which brings the act of creating and improving things into schools, promised to democratize learning and offer more meaningful learning opportunities for a diverse population of students. But to date, the expansion has focused on students of color, women and children from low income families.
Hoping to broaden the tent, learning scientists Worsley and Gerber, along with Anne Marie Piper of the School of Communication, have proposed an interdisciplinary course called “Making and Inclusivity,” a seminar-lab format class to develop functional prototypes for and with people with disabilities.
For example, visually impaired students face challenges when designing two or three dimensional objects. In class, students could develop a novel multimodal interface to help those with visual challenges more easily manipulate their design.
Other projects might include helping students with physical or fine motor impairments or developing a piece of technology that could make pictures books more accessible to visually impaired students, according to the proposal.
Still, “Making and Inclusivity” isn’t strictly about designing for people with special needs.
“Interfaces that make computer-aided design possible through a wider range of modalities, or picture books that excite a wide range of senses have the potential to benefit all learners and help us better understand human cognition and communication,” said Worsley, assistant professor of education and social policy and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering.
Gerber, associate professor of design and learning sciences, is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence and associate professor of mechanical engineering at McCormick. Piper, who studies and develops technology-based solutions for individuals with disabilities and older adults, is a member of the Segal Design Research Council and assistant professor in communication studies.
The Provost Awards and Provost Grants are given annually. The award nomination and grant application processes for 2017-18 will be announced on the Office of the Provost website during spring quarter.