2013 Theory-to-Practice Grants Support Active Learning

Ohio Wesleyan awards $100,000 for spring-summer grants
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20130117-TheoryToPracticeFrom studying the literature and politics of Ireland to exploring the intersection of religion and environmentalism in northern India, to delving into conservation possibilities for the endangered Green Sea Turtles of Tortuguero, Costa Rica, OWU’s newly-awarded Theory-to-Practice grants promise continued connection between academic theory and real-world experience. Here are our 2013 recipients:

“Medieval Building Techniques,” submitted by assistant professor of history, Ellen Arnold. In April and May, Arnold will visit two sites in Germany and France, that are developing building projects using medieval construction methods—one a castle, and one a church. During her time in Europe, Arnold also will be doing preliminary work to determine the feasibility of future research for students.

“Exploring the Literary Politics of Ireland,” submitted by assistant professor of English, Nancy Comorau. She and her students will spend spring of this year reading contemporary Irish literature, including fiction from the Republic of Ireland, drama from throughout the 32 counties, and poetry from the North. Their focus will be on how Ireland’s literature and politics interact. During the summer, they will travel to the capitals of Dublin and Belfast and to the village of Listowel for its writers’ festival. The group will visit with representatives from cultural advocacy groups, see museums, take tours, see theatre, and attend lectures by Irish writers.

“Environmentalism and Hindu Philosophy,” submitted by student, Alexander D’Amor-Braver ’14. He and several students will visit sites in India where religion and environmentalism intersect and speak with the people living there. They will, during their three-week trip in July, explore how those philosophies are applied in everyday life.

“Effects of Voluntary Exercise on Neuroplasticity Following Traumatic Brain Injury,” submitted by student, Clare Edwards ’13. Her four-month research which began this month, is designed to assess the role of voluntary exercise in neural plasticity following a traumatic brain injury, observing the behavior of 32 rats, with regard to those having access to running wheels and those who do not.

“Cuba: A Nation in Transition,” submitted by economics professor, Bob Gitter. With several OWU professors representing a variety of academic disciplines, Gitter and the group are interested in studying more about today’s Cuba, in the aftermath of the resignation of that country’s long-time leader, Fidel Castro, and the fact that both he and his brother, Raul, are in their 80’s. What major transitions lie ahead for Cuba? This contingent of OWU faculty members will spend two weeks in Cuba this summer, focusing on this and other areas of interest.

“Reading the Museum: Institutional Determinants of Cultural Identity in Liverpool,” submitted by student, Matthew Hill ’13. He wants to explore the role museums play in constructing cultural identity in Liverpool, England for one week in March. Hill will evaluate formal and historical elements of selected Liverpool museums and their exhibits, demonstrating how choices museums make reflect and generate certain assumptions about cultural identities.

“Student Exhibition Experience,” submitted by OWU Ross Art Museum director, Justin Kronewetter. The grant will provide funding for Kronewetter and his students to travel to the southwestern United States in May to study artwork created by Hispanic, Native American, and African American artists living in three celebrated art communities in New Mexico, in preparation for the student-organized multi-cultural exhibition on campus.

“Conservation of Green Sea Turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica,” submitted by student, Jung Hyun Lee ’13. Students will travel to Costa Rica for a week in August, to volunteer at the Sea Turtle Conservancy to help with conservation efforts for wild green sea turtles. The students will gain experience in marine biology and conservation as well as important field and research skills as they help with the preservation of this endangered species.

“OWU Dance Student Participation at American College of Dance Festival,” submitted by assistant professor of theatre and dance, Marin Leggat. She and several dance-theatre majors will travel to Oakland University in Michigan, to attend the American College Dance Festival in February.

“Why Do Finnish Students Finish First?”, submitted by student, Kelly Maier ’14. Two students will spend time in Finland in May, conducting Action Research featuring four factors believed to have created Finland’s academic success. Those factors include a positive view of special education, the idea that community is foundational in the classroom and school systems, the culture and government structure, and successful teacher training.

“Expatriation and Inspiration in Lisbon,” submitted by student, Spencer McGlade ’14. As several students travel to Lisbon to apprentice with prominent multi-cultural writers from around the world, students will develop further skills as critical thinkers and writers and find their personal writing identities.

“A Door into Time,” submitted by student,  Shelli Reeves ’16. Through research including interviews in Savannah, New York, and Washington, D.C., during a four-month period, Reeves will study the history of the Black Girl Scouts throughout American History. She’ll access archives in each location, as well as artifacts and opinions. Reeves plans to eventually create a publication to make information accessible to the public.

“Environment, Permaculture, and Sustainability in Ecuador,” submitted by student, Ashley Taylor ’14. Students will look into modern tropical agricultural practices this spring and summer, to develop alternative sustainable techniques to help the surrounding environment. As interns for the Third Millennium Alliance program in Ecuador, students hope to gain experience in real-world sustainability efforts and develop methods for food production and simple living—with knowledge that will further development of a more sustainable OWU.

“Memory for Spanish,” submitted by student, Eric Tifft ’13. His seven-month research involves how age affects cognitive deficit such as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. Tifft is examining the availability/accessibility ratio as it relates to cognitive aging in a complex task involving Spanish reading comprehension.

“Understanding Vietnam Through Volunteer Work and Cultural Immersion,” submitted by student, Charlotte Zalenski ’15. She secured an internship with East Meets West Foundation in fundraising, administration, and sanitation projects in the Ho Chi Minh City office, and will be living with a host family during her stay this summer. Zalenski hopes to develop a profound understanding of Vietnam and its people through communication and service work, and to build a healthier relationship between our cultures.

“How to Jump: An Evaluation of the Limb Musculature of Saltorial Mammals,” submitted by student, Britannia Wanstrath ’13. Her project is focusing on determining gear ratios of mammals as they jump and the use of illustrative anatomy to draw the muscles and bones. She did her research in Australia in later December and early January.

Thoughts from OWU students and professors:

“Writing your own research proposal takes a lot of work and dedication. As Erika Kazi ‘14 and I put our proposal together for our work in Ecuador, we received help from OWU’s writing center, professors, and other students who looked at what we write. Once we heard that our grant proposal was approved, it was a relief that all of our work had paid off. We plan to do a documentary of our experience and work.” – Ashley Taylor ’14

“Our faculty group wants to examine the changes in Cuba as the nation evolves from a socialist economy to a more market-based one. In light of our long-shared histories and increased interest in Cuba among Americans, this is the ideal time to go. We hope to be able to have travel-learning courses there as well as an interdisciplinary course on Cuba on campus. It is a new and exciting area for us.”  – Professor Bob Gitter

“The range of types of Theory-to-Practice projects, from exploratory investigations to final research projects, both in the U.S. and in numerous other countries, shows the power and flexibility of this program. Many projects are designed by students. They have formulated a research question, forged the necessary connections, planned the project and proposed the budget. Several of the grants involve faculty, either leading a group of students in their practice, or on scouting trips designed to provide future opportunities for students inside and outside the classroom. All of the projects move the participants from the classroom to the world, where complex realities of applying the ideas of academe can be experienced.” – Professor Barbara Andereck, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs

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