Higher Education @ J-WEL Announces Spring 2018 Grant Winners | MIT J-WEL

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Higher Education @ J-WEL Announces Spring 2018 Grant Winners

Colombian farmers

Higher Education @ J-WEL is pleased to announce that, from a competitive and high-quality field of submissions, four innovative proposals have been awarded funding:


Dan Frey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Faculty Research Director MIT D-Lab: Technology Design for Coffee Production in Colombia: A Co-Design Experience

Professor Dan Frey, PhD student Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar, and their team will develop an Independent Activities Period (IAP) course for both graduate and undergraduate students from all five MIT schools. The main goal of the course is for students to use MIT D-Lab’s participatory design methodology to co-create or re-design, along with Colombian coffee farmers, technologies for different stages of the coffee production process in Colombia in the context of climate change adaptation. This course builds on MIT’s global and high-quality education vision for its students and its commitment to fight climate change, all while providing a unique experience for small coffee growers in Colombia and MIT students. This course also provides students with the opportunity to learn and appreciate expertise outside of formal education. By being taught and guided directly from farmers, students will gain a deeper exposure to what knowledge and expertise mean, how innovation looks in constrained environments, and what role technology plays at this scale in responding to current planetary challenges.


Christine Ortiz, Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering: Advancing Socially-Directed STEM Education

This project will focus on the development of course materials to be implemented in the MIT Fall Term Class 3.087 “Materials, Societal Impact, and Social Innovation.” These course materials will not only be applied within MIT, but also to students nationwide and globally through a new nonprofit educational organization, Station1, founded by Ortiz. This curriculum will integrate three key components: Frontier research-based inquiry in STEM; societal impact, perspective, and social innovation; and inclusive pedagogies. The project has several objectives, including the broadening of participation in high-quality, socially‐directed STEM education based on MIT pedagogies and curriculum, with a particular focus on broadening access for historically marginalized and traditionally underserved student populations. The project will achieve this through an inaugural 10‐week residential program for college students called “Summer@Station1.”


Lisa Parks, Professor of Comparative Media Studies: Social IT Solutions” Workshop in Tanzania

The “Social IT Solutions” workshop will equip undergraduate and graduate computer science students at the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT) and the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) with interdisciplinary knowledge and skills in the areas of information communication technologies (ICT) for development, digital media, and design learning. Students at DIT and SUZA currently have access to a computer science curriculum, but they are not taught to think analytically or entrepreneurially about the socioeconomic impacts and development potentials of information technologies. Instead, according to interviews with educators, students are socialized to understand programming languages and code apart from the country’s socioeconomic conditions and development challenges. Furthermore, very few female students are studying computer science at DIT. To help address these challenges, the MIT team, which will include four students, will work alongside faculty from DIT and SUZA to facilitate a two-week intensive workshop for Tanzanian computer science students.


Norvin Richards, Professor of Linguistics: Skicinuwi-npisun: A Community-Centered Project for Documentation and Teaching of the Passamaquoddy Language

This project supports the work of linguistics graduate student Newell Lewey, from the Passamaquoddy nation of northern Maine, to support language teaching and curriculum development to help preserve the severely endangered Passamaquoddy language; the youngest speakers of the language are currently in their sixties. Second, it provides funds for a team of MIT linguists to travel to Passamaquoddy country, in order to work with the remaining speakers of the language, both to help with the creation of pedagogical materials and to further understanding of the grammar of the language. Copies of all records and materials created by this team will be provided to the Passamaquoddy tribe, as well as being archived at MIT.


Thank you to all of our applicants, and we look forward to reviewing proposals for the Fall 2018 round once it opens. See our grants page for additional information on Higher Education @ J-WEL grants.