250th Anniversary Innovation Fund Awardees 2016

In December 2015, thirty-one members of the Princeton faculty submitted proposals to the 250th Anniversary Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education. Twenty-one proposals were awarded funding by the selection committee, which included the dean and deputy dean of the college, the dean and two associate deans of the faculty, the director of the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, and the director of the Princeton Writing Program.

Jeremy Adelman. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of History.

Jeremy I. Adelman

Henry Charles Lea Professor of History

Jeremy Adelman will extend his online course, HIS 201: The Global History Lab, to reach students in refugee camps in Kenya and Jordan. Princeton undergraduates will collaborate with refugee learners, and graduate students will be trained to mentor refugee tutors. In addition, Jeremy will create a new series of historical case studies on the history of stateless people, from the origins of our state system (c. 1300) to the present.

Co-sponsored by the Quazzo Gift for Online Initiatives

Anna Arabindan-Kesson. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Art and Archaeology.

Anna Arabindan-Kesson

Assistant Professor, African American Studies and Art and Archaeology

Anna Arabindan-Kesson will create a new course that analyzes the visual and material culture of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the eighteenth century to our contemporary moment, drawing heavily on Princeton collections. Creating a dialogue between historical forms of representation and their continued currency in contemporary art and public monuments, the course will examine how these objects have been created, displayed and circulated to memorialize slavery, critique slavery’s legacies, and imagine freedom in the Atlantic world. Students will also have the opportunity to curate an exhibition based on their research into material held in Princeton collections.

Co-sponsored by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council for Humanities

Emmanuel Bourbouhakis. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Classics.

Emmanuel C. Bourbouhakis

Assistant Professor of Classics

Emmanuel Bourbouhakis will create a new course, Reading Constantinople: A Journey to the Capital of Byzantium, in which students assume the identities of medieval personae to research the legacy created by the “City of Constantine,” capital of the Byzantine Empire, at the cross-roads of West and East. The course will combine theatrical reading of Byzantine literature with in situ study of the monuments by which Constantinople forged its usable past to become a “New Rome” ruling the emergent Christian East as the coveted metropolis of the Middle Ages.

Co-sponsored by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council for Humanities

Charles Cameron. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Center for the Study of Democratic Politics.

Charles M. Cameron

Professor of Politics and Public Affairs

Charles Cameron will introduce multiple innovations to POL 329: Policy Making in America. He will “flip” ten lectures by moving the material on-line, and develop new interactive mini-case studies and problem sets to replace those lectures. Precepts will be modified to incorporate active exercises to develop specific student skills, and on-line material will be created to support the precept-based skill exercises. Finally, the evaluation of student performance will be revamped using on-line tools.

Bruno Carvalho. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Bruno Carvalho

Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

Bruno Carvalho will create an undergraduate seminar to be first offered in Spring 2017 on Diversity and Segregation in the Americas to explore how urban diversity has been viewed in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean. The course aims to explore how a hemispheric perspective can shed new light on our understanding of the U.S. He will expand the course to a lecture in subsequent years.

Co-sponsored by the Provost’s Fund for Cultural Studies

Zahid Chaudhary. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of English.

Zahid R. Chaudhary

Associate Professor of English

Zahid Chaudhary envisions a three-year project focused on Bollywood cinema: its global reach, its visual pleasure, its mix of traditions and genres, its relationship to the popular and to “third cinema,” and its checkered history across decolonization, the cold war, globalization, and the age of terror.

Co-sponsored by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council for Humanities

Lauren Coyle. Photo courtesy of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.

Lauren Coyle

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

How have the modes and meanings of labor transformed across time and place? What are the significant interplays among labor, politics, subjectivity, belief, and sociality? How do cultural dimensions inflect, refract, or otherwise help to fashion these interrelationships? Lauren Coyle will develop a course in Anthropology, to be cross-listed with African Studies, called Labors of Consciousness: Culture, Capital, Moral Economy. The course will draw upon classic and contemporary anthropological, historical and social theoretical texts. Through case studies and broader theoretical considerations, it considers central topics that illuminate the cultural forms of labor, including ideology, hegemony, dialectics, moral economy, habitus, discipline, class, post-industrialization and casualization.

Co-sponsored by the Provost’s Fund for Cultural Studies

John Danner. Photo courtesy of John Danner.

John D. Danner

Entrepreneurship Specialist, Electrical Engineering and the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education

John Danner’s new course, Designing Ventures to Change the World, will offer an interdisciplinary, hands-on, immersive opportunity to design services, technologies, products and ventures addressing the UN's seventeen new Sustainable Development Goals agreed to by the global community. The course will use a diverse portfolio of high-impact solo and team-based projects.

Lauren Emberson. Photo by Gerry Szymanski.

Lauren L. Emberson

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Lauren Emberson will enhance PSY 300, Research Methods in Psychology, to provide every student majoring in psychology the opportunity to conduct independent empirical research in their junior year as part of their required coursework. Engaging in research in this course will be a powerful form of active learning for research methods that will be the best possible preparation for the students’ Independent Work.

Karen Emmerich. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Comparative Literature.

Karen R. Emmerich

Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Archive Writing, Karen Emmerich’s new 300-level course in Comparative Literature, will introduce undergraduate students to some of the many sites at Princeton where they can engage in archival research. Students will read theoretical materials on archives, archiving, and curation, as well as literary texts that draw on archival materials. After visiting a number of archives together, students will choose particular archives to work with, and will produce final projects that are both creative and critical in nature.

Co-sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology and the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council for Humanities

Steven Gubser. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Physics.

Steven S. Gubser

Professor of Physics

Steven Gubser will offer a new 200-level course, Invitation to Theoretical Physics, starting in the spring of 2017. It will be a big picture course aiming to help ambitious undergraduates get their footing in the increasingly abstract and mathematical world of theoretical physics, while at the same time honing their writing skills by a series of short assignments. Course materials and supporting online infrastructure will be developed over three years.

Lars Hedin. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Lars O. Hedin

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Lars Hedin will enhance EEB 417, Ecosystems and Global Change, to make it relevant to the growing number of Princeton students interested in understanding climate change and its effect on biodiversity and ecosystems. The revision will focus on three elements: high-level engagement with the theory and practice of science, including a novel field laboratory component; quantitative analyses, including hands-on modeling problems; and a carefully crafted component that brings climate science and policy together.

Andrew Houck. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Electrical Engineering.

Andrew A. Houck

Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering

Andrew Houck will develop a suite of courses that will offer an alternate pathway to satisfy freshman engineering requirements. The courses will focus on design and hands-on experience while providing necessary scientific and mathematical foundations. They will introduce students to service as a core value of engineering, will promote access and inclusion, and will enhance the broader liberal arts education at Princeton.

Co-sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology

Alison Isenberg. Photo courtesy of the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities.

Alison E. Isenberg

Professor of History

History professor Alison Isenberg and filmmaker and WWS lecturer Purcell Carson are exploring the 1960s unrest in Trenton and the events surrounding the death of one young black college student who was fatally shot in April 1968 by a young white police officer. Isenberg’s historical perspective brings a new focus to Carson’s course, Documentary Film and the City, which will look this year at the 1960s, race, region, economy, memory and media representation. Working with students, community members, the CBLI and the McGraw Center, the two will build an archive from which they will produce a work of historical scholarship and a film. This collaboration presents a hands-on opportunity to integrate the disciplines of history and documentary cinema; students will produce their own research papers and video sketches, in addition to the collective projects.

Co-sponsored by the Community-Based Learning Initiative and the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

Jennifer Johnson. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Mathematics.

Jennifer M. Johnson

Senior Lecturer in Mathematics

Jennifer Johnson will lead a team from the Department of Mathematics including Jon Fickenscher, Tatiana Howard and Will Crow to develop a problem database and website that will allow creation of customized review materials targeted for individual students by both topic and level of understanding. The website will include new online tools for math placement, using the archive of existing Princeton calculus exams and an updated syllabus for MAT 103, Calculus I, which incorporates learning goals and assessment standards. The website will include student videos, developed in collaboration with Geneva Stein and Nic Voge at the McGraw Center, to address issues of diversity and accessibility and to facilitate independent learning and refresher work.

Hisae Matsui. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of East Asian Studies.

Hisae Matsui

Lecturer in East Asian Studies

Hisae Matsui will revise the Intermediate Japanese I & II curriculum to personalize courses by blending online and face-to-face instruction. Students will learn at their own pace, and will also choose how the content is delivered through online media. The revisions will use common technological tools so this initiative will act as a prototype for other courses in various disciplines.

Catalina Méndez Vallejo. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Catalina Méndez Vallejo

Lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese

Led by Catalina Méndez Vallejo, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese will restructure the lower-level Spanish course sequence, SPA 101, SPA 102, SPA 103, and SPA 107. The department will create a custom-made digital textbook that provides effective ways to support the students’ acquisition of the language.

Celeste M. Nelson. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Celeste M. Nelson

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Celeste Nelson will create a new introductory course in Bioengineering to investigate topics such as cloned cats, genetically modified organisms, pacemakers, and insulin pumps. Bioengineering is by nature an interdisciplinary field focused on understanding and improving the human condition. This course will provide a hands-on applications-based introduction to the field for both engineers and non-engineering students.

Co-sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology


Stephen W. Pacala. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Stephen W. Pacala

Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Today’s undergraduates will be at the peak of their careers when four global environmental problems also approach their peaks: climate change, food supply, fresh water supply and biodiversity loss. Steve Pacala’s new course will help prepare students for this “environmental nexus” and will encompass the scientific, technological, political, social, ethical and humanistic dimensions of the problem.

Co-sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology

Martin Semmelhack. Photo courtesy of Princeton University Department of Chemistry.

Martin F. Semmelhack

Professor of Chemistry

Led by Martin Semmelhack, the Chemistry faculty will develop enhancements in the teaching of Chemistry 303 and 304/304B, the organic chemistry sequence. The focus is two-fold: design and implementation of additional precepts to bolster the background of the less well-prepared students; and the refinement and training for peer-group problem solving sessions.

Katerina Visnjic. Photo courtesy of the Princeton University Department of Physics.

Katerina Visnjic

Lecturer in Physics

After successfully transforming the laboratory curriculum in PHY 103/104, Katerina Visnjic will focus on transforming the remainder of the introductory Physics sequence, PHY 101/102. In the new laboratory curriculum, students are given the opportunity to design their own experiments in order to answer a specific question, allowing them to develop widely applicable skills in scientific thinking.

Co-sponsored by the Council on Science and Technology