Grants in Higher Education Innovation, 2018

Grants in Higher Education Innovation, 2018 2018-02-09T08:34:12+00:00

Call for Proposals

The Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab invites MIT faculty to submit proposals for J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation that should impact MIT education, with broad potential for impact in global settings and with global learners. Funding up to 40K will be offered to selected proposals. Proposals are due on March 9, 2018.

The Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) is a new initiative at MIT that seeks to promote excellence and transformation in education around the world. Global Colleagues collaborate with MIT faculty and staff to address educational challenges and to define a transformative implementation plan.

A guiding focus of J-WEL will be learners in the developing world, populations underserved by education such as women and girls, a growing displaced population that includes refugees, and the knowledge and skills needed by youth for tomorrow’s workforce.

2017 Grant Awardees

Following the 2017 launch of J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation, the J-WEL Higher Education Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that from a competitive and high-quality field of submissions, three innovative proposals have been awarded funding:

Prof Azra Aksamija, Department of Architecture, Culturally Sensitive Design: Art and Innovation in the Refugee Camp

Prof W. Craig Carter, Department of Material Sciences & Engineering, Improving Academic-Field-Specific Learning through Coding, Visualization, and Computational Thinking: The CodeSeal Project

Prof Christoph Paus, Department of Physics, Fundamentals of Experimentation in the Physics Sciences using an Arduino

Objectives for Grants in Higher Education Innovation

Projects should do one or more of the following:

  • Have an impact on MIT learners at the undergraduate or graduate level.
  • Have a potential impact for global learners. We use global to reference any region or institute outside of MIT. Global impact may refer to a particular geographical location, or a specific learner population.
  • Use aspects of MIT education that are uniquely powerful such as problem-solving and research-based learning.
  • Provide metrics for success and descriptions of how these will be measured, at MIT. As relevant, how would these metrics differ in any specific global settings projected?
  • Consider use of technology to solve problems in learning and teaching. This may include use of digital solutions to address inequities in education experienced around the globe.
  • Employ learning strategies that will be inclusive of learners across socioeconomic class and possibly geographic location.
  • Promote engagement of women in STEM-based subjects.
  • Consider ways to accelerate the learning process for students who have little access to education.
  • Include innovative methods for training teachers, including those who teach in non-traditional settings, outside the classroom, and at scale.
  • Proposals should be founded on research-based learning and teaching practices (see Additional Resources section below) and describe how student learning will be promoted and measured.
  • Provide modular frameworks (definition below) and incorporate other recommendations of the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education
  • Proposals for new courses or modules on MITx may be best directed to the next MITx Grant Program.


Some broad ideas follow, but we welcome your thoughts and ideas.

  • Innovative approaches to teaching foundational undergraduate subjects, through in-class or other activities
  • Use of learning through research, in a specific discipline
  • Entrepreneurial approaches in higher education


  • The proposal must be overseen and submitted by one or more MIT faculty members.
  • Projects must be documented, as a narrative, after the grant is awarded.
  • The lead faculty member(s) will participate in and present at J-WEL weeks and/or other forums.
  • The lead faculty member(s) will submit a report that summarizes specific results on student learning and other findings including results of their defined project metrics within two months of the project end date.
  • The lead faculty member(s) should participate(s) throughout the project although development and teaching may also involve students, postdocs, and others.
  • A letter of support from the department head (or unit) must accompany the proposal.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

To prepare your proposal, download and complete the following documents:

Submissions should be emailed to:

Meetings are available with J-WEL staff to help you prepare your proposal. Please contact to request a meeting. Appointments are available on a first come, first served basis—we anticipate being fully booked as the submission deadline approaches.

Award Information

Funding is provided to support content creation, tool development, a part-time TA (if needed), undergraduates, and a partially funded (shared) department-based postdoc or lecturer to coordinate the proposed project. Funding levels are typically $10,000 – $40,000.

Additional resources

  • Key practices
    Key research-based practices for teaching and learning are summarized in this document; for advice on how to incorporate them into your proposed module(s), contact: Use this same email address if you would like to develop a residential-only module (which lies outside the scope of this call).

  • What is a module?

    A module is a learning unit or segment that can be studied on its own or in sequence with other modules. We use the definition offered in the Institute-Wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education: a self-contained unit comprising a set of outcomes, where an outcome is what the student will know or be able to do as a result of a learning experience and is a driver of the instruction and assessment for the module.

For additional questions or clarification, please contact

Key Dates

  • January 24, 2018 – Call for Proposals released

  • February 16, 2018, 2:00 – 3:30 PM: – J-WEL conversation / information for faculty (NE49-2074) Join via videoconference

  • January 24 – March 7, 2018 – OPTIONAL individual meetings with J-WEL staff available on first-come, first-served basis

  • March 9, 2018 – Proposals due

  • April 4, 2018 – Decisions announced