250th Fund: Summer 2020 awardees

250th fund graphic

The Office of the Dean of the College is pleased to announce awards from the special summer cycle of the 250th Anniversary Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education. We highlight below awards made with the generous support of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity and the Office of Information Technology. The first set of awards will support the development of courses that address systemic racism, racial injustice, and/or the history of civil rights or anti-racist movements. The second set supports the development of “Princeton Challenge” courses, which provide students with research-intensive, project-focused experiences that address COVID-19 or other community-focused problems. 




Ali Venezuela, William Gleason, Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, American Studies 101: America Then and Now

A critical gateway into the certificate program, this course addresses themes of community, xenophobia, and race. Venezuela, Gleason, and Fernandez-Kelly will develop new curricular materials – with an emphasis on political and cultural developments around the 2020 election, protests against racial injustice, and worries about the global pandemic – design new assignments and prepare to teach this course in an online format.


Autumn Womack, AAS/ENG 353: African American Literature, Origins to 1900

Womack will redesign this course to spotlight black literary engagements with resistance, revolt, and revolution. In addition to revising lectures and incorporating new readings to illuminate the history of black activism and political expression, Womack will create new learning opportunities that are specific to an online environment, allowing students to critically interrogate contemporary expressions of anti-racism and revolution.


Avram Alpert, WRI 110: The Ends of Decision-Making

Alpert will develop a new writing seminar that addresses the effects of systemic racism and racial injustice on decision-making processes. The seminar will offer students a series of readings, assignments, and interactive discussions to explore how racism affects the choices made by individuals, algorithms, and societies. It will engage a combination of disciplines to explore how deeply embedded our cognitive processes are in social systems.


Brigitte Werner, LAS/ANT 212: Environmental Sovereignties: Indigenous Social Movements

This course takes a comparative perspective on Indigenous-led movements for environmental rights across the Americas, focusing on historical and contemporary struggles in which questions of sovereignty overlap with threatened environments. Werner will design this new course for the fall semester’s online environment, addressing how white supremacist structures contribute to forms of environmental degradation that disproportionately impact Indigenous communities, and how Indigenous peoples across regions confront threats to their sovereignty.


Catherine Peters, Civil and Environmental Engineering Curriculum

Peters will lead an effort to weave elements of systemic racism, racial injustice, and anti-racism throughout the CEE undergraduate curriculum, with a focus on five CEE courses that focus on environment and urban infrastructure and are particularly appropriate for discussion and teaching related to systemic racism and racial injustice.


Diana Tamir, PSY 252: Social Psychology

Social Psychology explores why people think the things they think, feel the things they feel, and do the things they do – and thus offers an opportunity to explore the psychological roots of racial injustice. Tamir will redesign the precepts for this course, focusing on areas of psychology relevant to racial injustice (e.g., stereotyping and prejudice, racial bias, intergroup relations, racism and health).


Eduardo Cadava, ENG 411: Mourning America: Emerson and Douglas

Cadava will develop a new “practicum” component for this seminar in which students will build a collaboratively-curated virtual exhibition that focuses on the writings of Emerson and Douglas. Both writers offer models of resistance for the often violent struggles for freedom and justice both inside and outside America—resistances and struggles to realize the promise of an America that to this day still does not exist—which is why it must always be mourned.


Frederick Wherry: Sociology 102: Police Violence, #BlackLivesMatter, and Covid-19

Wherry will design a new course that addresses systemic racism, anti-racist social movements, and the conditions leading to police violence and the disparate racial impacts of Covid-19. His goal is to teach students to develop “a sociological imagination”: searching for meaningful patterns across events, identifying how racialized interactions, networks, rituals, and institutions shape these patterns, and exploring how these patterns can be disrupted and transformed.


Jane Cox, THR/VIS 400: Theatrical Design Studio

The theatrical design studio is typically an exploration of visual story-telling for live performance. In the coming year, theater productions will be virtual. Cox and her faculty colleagues will explore innovative tools for presentation of performance, develop significant new anti-racist content, and prepare to engage students with the ways in which bodies and physical environments shape our perceptions of humanity.


Joshua Guild, HIS/AAS 443: Black Worldmaking: Freedom Movements Then and Now

This upper-level undergraduate seminar is designed to help students understand, contextualize, and analyze contemporary racial justice protest movements. In response to the widespread social uprising that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Guild will refocus the seminar on movements for racial justice over the past sixty years, placing a particular emphasis on the role of young people.


Julian Ayroles, EEB 309: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology

Ayroles will redesign this course for an online format, as well as to reflect recent conversations in the department about diversity, equity, and inclusion. As his students engage fundamental concepts in the field, many of which have a troubling racial history, Ayroles will contextualize and discuss the racial biases that have shaped the history of this field.


Meredith Martin, ENG 346: 19th-Century Poetry

Martin will redesign this course (and change its title from “Victorian Poetry”) to emphasize the global circulation of poetry in the Anglophone world, to teach how the poetry produced in England by canonical poets both engaged with and promoted white supremacy, and to engage the online format. Martin and her students will collaboratively build an alternate history of 19th-century poetry.


Monica Huerta, LAO 218/AMS 219/ENG 28: Latinx Autobiography

Huerta will develop a new introductory-level course for an online format that will introduce students to both foundational and contemporary figures in Latinx writing. The Latinx autobiographies at the center of the course will offer different political and aesthetic orientations towards the writing of a life in relation to the histories of colonialism and racial capitalism that have distinguished and differently positioned Latinx peoples.


Paul Nadal, ENG 300: World Scale

Nadal will design a new junior seminar in critical writing that examines the relationship between narrative perspective and power. The primary goal of the class will be to teach students critical modes of reading and writing about literature that will empower them to probe further into the globalizing frameworks that shape the way we talk about race, belonging, climate change, and globalization. Although “World Scale” will be taught remotely, the course will emphasize a highly interactive workshop-style of learning.


Rachael DeLue, ART 272: Rage Against the Machine

DeLue will redesign this course for online instruction, refocusing it on the visual politics of race. The course will begin and end with material directly related to Black Lives Matter, and will also consider early visual ethnographies of the “New World,” the visual rhetoric of the concept of “Yellow Peril,” and the iconography of the American Indian Movement. Visual literacy—the capacity to understand and critique what one sees or what one is shown—constitutes a key aspect of political engagement and democratic participation.


Raphael Piguet, FRE 105: Intermediate French

Piguet will redesign this accelerated, intermediate-level French course to focus on integrating a greater diversity of voices and materials, implementing collaborative research projects and project-based assignments, and creating activities that take full advantage of the opportunities offered by digital tools. The broadening of the course’s cultural horizons will be accompanied by new, project-based activities and assignments that will allow students to use French in concrete ways, such as small-group research projects on specific subjects and interviews of relevant guest speakers.


Vance Smith, ENG: Arts in the Secret City

This new course will study the role that the arts play in the modern urban experience, centering on Trenton’s artistic scene. It will focus on the role that historical and contemporary racisms have played—and still play. Onsite or virtual investigations will include art galleries, theaters, and music venues. The course will meet with activists, policy makers, artistic directors, politicians, and artists.





Jeffrey Himpele, ANT 347: Culture, Media, and Data

Himpele will significantly redesign “Culture, Media, and Data” for fall 2020. Primarily, the redesign will make the most of the tools for social interaction and visual engagement that are already afforded in online environments by enabling students to learn to conduct cultural analyses of media and data through hands-on work. Further, it will offer students a choice of project experiences focused either on the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic or systemic racial injustice and anti-racism in their communities.


Joe Stephens, JRN 260: What to See and Believe in the Age of COVID

This new course will equip students to employ tenets of reliable journalism to confidently navigate what the WHO describes as an ongoing “infodemic”—the confusing and contradictory news reports accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic and related social justice protests. This course will use of-the-moment examples of misinformation, ripped from the headlines, juxtaposed with examples of reliable and deeply researched accountability reporting.


Christopher Tully, PHY 209: Respiratory Monitoring During the Pandemic

How can non-invasive helmet-based assisted breathing data be collected and used to assess the health of a patient? Tully will design new material and lab equipment for this seminar in computational physics to teach students how respiratory monitoring is used, how to build these systems with inexpensive, readily available components, and how to implement Python computing methods and network solutions to provide clinicians the tools they need to rapidly respond to the respiratory conditions of COVID-19 patients. This course will provide a platform for students to think about their role in a pandemic and how what they learn in class can empower them to action on behalf of those that need help in times of crisis.


Janet Vertesi, SOC: Can We Build Anti-Racist Technology?

Vertesi will develop a Princeton Challenge course that will address how racism and inequality is designed into our present-day sociotechnical systems. The course will invite students to learn about existing inequalities, discover different interventionist critical design techniques, and develop anti-racist systems that produce social impact. This course will produce examples of anti-racist technologies, b) produce design principles and interventions to encourage anti-racism in technological development, and c) train a generation of students in the study, design, and intervention in unequal systems such that they can do good in the world when they emerge from the University


Tali Mendelberg, POL 426: Generation Z Voting Challenge

What does it take to increase youth voting in 2020? Mendelberg will design a new course in which students implement and evaluate interventions to register and turn out young Americans to vote. Interventions might use text messages or social media, might activate social relationships or identities, and might be coordinated with community organizations. Students will learn about what is most likely to be effective, why, and how to evaluate its success.


Ruha Benjamin, AAS 339/EGR 339: Black Mirror: Race, Technology, and Justice

Benjamin will develop a community-engaged research module focused on the racial dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The course will explore a range of emerging technologies that encode inequity in digital platforms and automated decisions systems and develop a conceptual toolkit to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. From W.E.B. DuBois’ modernist data visualizations to Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s expert deployment of statistics, students will engage the Black intellectual foundations of contemporary struggles over data and democracy, applying design justice principles in a collaborative project, and learning to communicate scholarly insights to tech practitioners, policy makers, and the broader public.


German Labrador Mendez, SPA 252/HUM 252/ECS 359: Narrating Pandemics Now

Mendez will design “Narrating Pandemics Now,” a new course to be taught online that will deal with the current Covid-19 crisis at several levels. In the spirit of the Princeton Challenge, the course will be driven by individual research projects. Students are responsible for the elaboration of a «diary of the pandemics», a digital or literary object to be constructed throughout the semester, using theoretical and narrative tools provided by the instructor. The idea is to progressively learn how to “narrate your own pandemic” and to share that experience both from a human and an academic point of view.


Marilia Librandi, POR 304: Performing Brazilian Culture: When Race and Gender Take Center Stage

Librandi will redesign this course to focus on Brazil’s systemic racism and gender violence as well as its anti-racism and feminist movements. Librandi will make the course research intensive, increasing the students’ engagement with primary sources from Firestone Library and the Art Museum. The course will also maximize collaboration among students through small groups projects, the themes of which will be developed in consultation with Afro-Brazilian and African-American artists and activists. Librandi will create an online environment that promotes a critically engaged and ethical learning experience.