Note: Given COVID-related budgetary constraints, our Mini-Grants Program is temporarily on hold. Please check back for updates as the situation evolves. Thank you for your understanding.
Last Updated: July 9, 2020
The Center for Experiential Education's Mini-Grants Program supports and enhances experiential learning in UAlbany's academic curriculum. Faculty members can apply for up to $500 in funding to support curricular experiential projects. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
All faculty, including contingent faculty, are eligible to apply. This program is available for instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. To encourage innovation, award money will only fund a project once. Faculty may apply for funding each semester as long as the funding is for a project not previously funded.
Projects eligible for funding include, but are not limited to:
- a new or redesigned course that includes experiential education, such as service-learning projects, client-based projects or guest speakers.
- the development of new experiential programs, including department-based internship courses
- domestic and international field trips related to course material
- professional certifications, training or workshops related to experiential education
- presenting with students at a conference or workshop related to experiential education
- equipment needed to support a research project at the undergraduate or graduate level
Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project meets the SUNY Criteria for Approved Applied Learning Activities:
- The activity is structured, intentional and authentic.
- The activity requires preparation, orientation and training.
- The activity must include monitoring and continuous improvement.
- The activity requires structured reflection and acknowledgment.
- The activity must be assessed and evaluated.
The Center for Experiential Education encourages interdisciplinary projects, as well as collaboration with other faculty, students, staff and community partners.
Award recipients will submit a brief summary of the project outcome to the Center for Experiential Education. We may request photographs or other evidence of student work in which participants are clearly identified. Any use of these materials on the Center for Experiential Learning website and other media platforms will be approved by participants. Forms for this purpose will be provided at the time of funding approval notification. Select recipients may be asked to present their project, preferably with a student, at a university forum.
Award monies will not fund food, alcohol, prizes or giveaways.
Faculty: Verónica Pérez Rodríguez, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Course: AANT 330: The Archaeology of Food
Project Title: Experiential Activities for Archaeology of Food
This grant was used for two experiential learning activities for the Fall 2019 course, “The Archaeology of Food.” The first hands-on activity taught students about Mesoamerican foodways centered around maize. A cultural expert, a traditional cook and a Capital Region woman from the Triqui region of Oaxaca visited the classroom. Students processed maize through nixtamalization, then learned about and used traditional tools — metates and comals — to mill the nixtamalized maize and make tortillas. The grant allowed Professor Pérez to buy modern examples of a basalt metates and mano for the activity. The tools were later added to the Department of Anthropology’s teaching collection.
The second activity was a field visit to SUNY Cobleskill, where students learned about local food production and traditional foods that have been central to the upstate New York region since pre-Colonial (prehistoric) times. Through collaboration from SUNY Cobleskill’s Agriculture and Food Management program, the class visited the Cobleskill campus and several local farms that continue to grow foods central to the indigenous foodways of the northeast. The mini grant funded a food tasting created by a Culinary Arts student club. The visit focused on learning about foods that have been historically, economically and culturally important to the upstate New York region, since this area was indigenous land.
Upon completion of the two activities, students wrote about their experience and learning in two papers. Knowledge gained from these experiences was also evaluated in the course’s midterm and final exams.
Faculty: Rae Muhlstock, Lecturer for the Writing and Critical Inquiry Program
Course: UUNI 110: Freshman Seminar "Food Literature and Culture"
Project Title: WCI Film Festival and Lecture Series: "Food on Film"
The Students in the “Food Literature and Culture” Freshman Seminar, offered through the Office of Student Engagement, helped prepare and run the “Food on Film” Film Festival and Lecture Series, an annual student-centered, public humanities collaboration with The Linda in Albany. The goals of the course were two-fold. First, the students read, viewed and analyzed several texts focused on food — from articles and novels to TV shows and cookbooks — to gain broad context of the 2019 Festival theme.
Next, students learned about the importance of community, engagement and communal education. They envisioned, evaluated and executed four community engagement events to help promote the festival and educate the university community about the theme. First, students worked individually to create semi-formal project pitches, which they shared with the class. Then, as a class, students voted on the four strongest ideas. Next, students worked in groups to revise the initial idea into a formal proposal, complete with a researched budget, action plan and outcome objectives. After their proposals were approved, students executed their ideas.
Students were responsible for turning in a weekly, semi-formal progress journal to document the challenges and successes of their projects. They later used their journals to write a personal essay about executing their engagement events from conception to completion, including revisions, successes and failures along the way.
Faculty: Rae Muhlstock, Lecturer of Writing and Critical Inquiry
Course: "Science Fiction and Our Fears" Freshman Seminar (Fall 2018); UUNI 110: Writing and Critical Inquiry (Spring 2019)
Project Title: Writing and Critical Inquiry Film Festival and Lecture Series; WCI Superheroes Showcase
The Experiential Education Mini-Grant was used to support two projects:
WCI Film Festival and Lecture Series: The first project involved students in the “Science Fiction and Our Fears” Freshman Seminar, offered through the Office of Student Engagement. Students were given the unique opportunity to help prepare and run the Classics of Science Fiction Film Festival and Lecture Series. The goals of the course were two-fold. First, students read, viewed and analyzed a number of science fiction texts — both fictions and criticisms — in order to gain context into the genre chosen as the theme of that year’s festival. Students also learned the importance of community, engagement and communal education. They envisioned, evaluated and executed four community engagement events to help promote the festival. Two events took place on campus and two events were held elsewhere in the city, with all four events open to both the University and Capital Region communities.
WCI Superheroes Showcase: The grant also helped fund a project in which Writing and Critical Inquiry classes worked with art students from Edmond J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence in Albany's Arbor Hill neighborhood. During the Spring 2019 semester, three WCI classes worked with middle school students to create original superheroes. These heroes, inspired by the young students' artwork, spoke to the unique concerns associated with growing up in the 21st century. The middle school students' art gave UAlbany students a starting point for their inquiry, analysis and eventual creation of a hero who stands for modern concepts of heroism, who speaks to the heroes we need today, and who fights for what we believe in and feel is worth saving.
The project culminated in the Superhero Showcase, a celebration of the collaboration. The middle school students, their art teacher and their families came to campus, where the WCI students presented the heroes and hero narratives they developed over the course of the semester. The mini-grant provided funding for the artwork to be scanned and printed for the showcase.
Faculty: Sheila Curran Bernard, Associate Professor of History and Documentary Studies, Director of the Graduate Program in Public History
Courses: Introduction to Public History (HIS 501); Colloquium on the Theory and Practice of History (HIS 600)
Project Title: UAlbany History at Work: A Networking and Orientation Gathering for UAlbany Graduate Students, Alumni, and Outreach Sites throughout the Capital Region
Each year, the program in public history holds an annual orientation for incoming MA students, alumni and other individuals working in established or potential internship sites throughout the region. In 2018 – the program's 35th anniversary – the event was expanded and held at the historic Rice House at the Albany Institute for History and Art, which is nearby many major history partners, such as the NYS Museum, the NYS Archives and state historic sites. Attendees included MA, MSIS and PhD students, history faculty and community partners. Through focused activities, the event raised awareness of University and community resources, not only in terms of internships and potential employment but also research, service learning and other potential collaborative efforts. The mini-grant helped to fund this expanded event.
Faculty: Jennifer Manganello, Professor of Health Policy, Management and Behavior
Courses: HPM 619 and HPM 469
Project Title: Designing Health Materials for North Country Hospice
In Fall 2018, Professor Manganello offered a graduate health communication class and an undergraduate health literacy class, both of which included a unit on creating materials for health communication. Students were taught how to use plain language and design techniques to create materials like brochures that were easy to understand and captured the attention of readers. Professor Manganello enlisted Communicate Health, a company that specializes in material design, to conduct a one-hour training webinar for each class through Zoom on designing health materials effectively. This was a great opportunity for the students to learn some practical skills.
Students learned from experts about how to best design health information materials through this webinar. They were then given assignments to apply their skills. The graduate class redesigned a brochure for Hospice of the North Country and the undergraduate class developed an infographic that would be used in Professor Manganello's work. This helped students learn how to apply the skills they had learned in the real world.
Faculty: Jessica L. Campbell, Instructor of Anthropology
Course: AANT 314: Forensic Anthropology
Project Title: Original Research Project in Forensic Anthropology
Undergraduate students enrolled in the Forensic Anthropology course completed independent original research projects. Each research project introduced and used the formal scientific method of hypothesis testing. Students progressed through their projects throughout the Fall 2018 semester, with the finished project presented in poster format to the class and in an open venue that the Department of Anthropology and other interested UAlbany students and staff attended. Funding was used to purchase students’ requested research materials, including measurement implements, photography setup (background material, scales) and testing materials (skeletal material) from distributing companies. Original research projects were only limited by the bounds of forensic anthropology and students were encouraged to pursue their individual interests. Projects used skills and training they had learned in the class. They were asked to apply these skills in their research projects, in the role of the Primary Investigator or Forensic Anthropologist.
Faculty: Marilyn Masson, Professor of Anthropology
Course: AANT 339: Archaeological Lab Methods
Project Title: Underground Railroad Archaeology Project
The Underground Railroad Archaeology Project provided undergraduate students with both field and lab research experience. The field component was a 6-week summer session course, after which the lab on campus was filled with artifacts collected that represented rich data for student research projects. Analysis was performed by interns/independent study students and as part of the lab course.
Funds were used to directly support three undergraduate research papers. The first was a project reconstructing animal use and diet of slaves of the Ten Broeck Mansion (early 1800’s) based on animal bone analysis from summer 2018 collections. Funding allowed for the compensation of zoo archaeologist and UAlbany Anthropology doctoral student Jessica Vavrasek, who assisted in training the undergraduate student and checking the final identifications.
The remaining funds were used to hire a student assistant to enter a large stack of data sheets into the computer, including the artifact identifications from the 2017 Underground Railroad Archaeology Project at the headquarters of Albany’s Underground Railroad, the Stephen & Harriet Myers house. Two students in the lab class used these computer files to undertake their own analysis projects of the data and to present results on ceramic and glass artifact use, and personal items of adornment. Many other types of artifacts were in the data files and this database will continue to serve additional students’ needs in coming semesters.
Faculty: Janell Hobson, Professor and Chair of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Course: WSS 399, WSS 599
Project Title: Faculty-Led Study Abroad Tour of London and Paris on Women's Multiracial Histories
This funding went towards a visit to the Kenwood House, as part of a winter-session Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program, "Women's Multiracial Histories in London and Paris." The Kenwood House was the residence of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a biracial daughter of a slave and sea captain who was taken in to live with the family of her great uncle, Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice who presided over important cases that strengthened abolitionism in England. This tour and subsequent online course asked students to rethink abolitionist and British history by placing women of color at the center. Visiting the site of Dido's residence – including the study where she helped her uncle write his legal papers, the dairy farm over which she presided and the portrait that made her famous – gave students hands-on experience with the history they had studied in preparation. Before the tour, students watched “Belle,” the fictional film based on Dido Elizabeth Belle, and read Paula Byrne’s “Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice.” During the tour, students took strategic photographs (permitted by the estate) and submitted a photo essay that offered an insightful reflection on this history. After the tour, they shared post-tour reflections in an online discussion and completed an in-depth paper addressing a specific issue related to this history.
Faculty: Martha Asselin, Director of the Center for Leadership and Service
Course: EAPS 487 (Winter Session: Puerto Rico; Spring Break: The Netherlands)
During the January 2019 Winter Session, the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy, the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the Center for Leadership and Service and SUNY collaborated on a one-week, one-credit, faculty-led study abroad course involving a SUNY service project in Puerto Rico.
The purpose of the EAPS 487 experience was to improve students’ understanding of Hurricane Maria’s impacts on the lives of Puerto Ricans, while engaging students in service activities to strengthen the community. Students identified relationships between social, economic and physical consequences of Hurricane Maria and the evolution of those consequences over time, particularly as they were reflected in physical and mental health. The first mini grant was used in Puerto Rico to offset the cost of transporting students to experiential education activities associated with Three Kings Day, an important holiday for Puerto Rico.
The second grant went towards a one-week, one-credit, faculty-led study abroad program in during Spring Break. The course was a collaboration between the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy, and the Center for Leadership and Service. The funding allowed UAlbany students to tour the Anne Frank House and the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Both tours were important for understanding the history and culture of the country, and helped develop students’ cultural awareness and global leadership. These experiences complemented the knowledge gained through the classroom activities by providing substantial, hand-on learning through immersion into the culture of the Netherlands.
Faculty: Samantha Penta, an Assistant Professor for the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity
Course: CEHC 399
Project Title: The Puerto Rico Crisis and Public Health Program
The Puerto Rico Crisis and Public Health Program consisted of two parts. The first part was a regular course focused on crises and public health (CEHC 399: Crisis and Public Health). The second part was a field experience in Puerto Rico for approximately 15 University at Albany students, coordinated with the University of Puerto Rico—Mayaguez (UPRM). All the students who participated in the field experience took CEHC 399 along with students who did not go to Puerto Rico. CEHC 399 provided a broad academic context on Puerto Rican public health issues related to the recovery from Hurricane Maria — knowledge which the students then applied during their field experience.
The goal of the field experience was to improve students’ understanding of the effects of Hurricane Maria on the lives of Puerto Ricans. The program tackled misconceptions students may have held about the response to, and recovery from, the hurricane in Puerto Rico — particularly health issues. While in Puerto Rico, students assessed long-term recovery issues for the island on individual and community levels, assessed vulnerabilities and threats to health, and evaluated emergency management policies and practices for their effects on health. Students identified relationships between social, economic and physical consequences of Hurricane Maria and the evolution of those consequences over time, particularly as they were reflected in physical and mental health. These experiences were linked to the broader discussions of these issues that took place in CEHC 399.
This program offered several benefits to students. The foremost was the opportunity to see the concepts and theories discussed in the semester-long class in action during the field experience, and the chance to understand the relevance of academic content for the applied world. This concrete experience in Puerto Rico deepened their understanding of the specific challenges the territory faces and of potential and existing ways of addressing those problems. As these students move on to careers in emergency management, public health and other fields, they will be aware of the relevance of theory and research in practice as guides for understanding the world and supporting their decision-making. These students brought their field experiences to classroom discussions. As a result, even the students in the semester-length CEHC 399 class who did not participate in the Puerto Rico field experience benefited from the field experiences through the enrichment of classroom discussions.
Faculty: Zakhar Berkovich, Director of Undergraduate Student Services for Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
Course: RPOS 397: Experiential and Service Learning in Political Science (Winter Session)
Project Title: Service-Learning Project in Puerto Rico
The Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy partnered with the Center for Leadership and Services and the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity for a Service-Learning Trip to Puerto Rico, with a goal of assisting post-Hurricane. Two colleges and the Center for Leadership and Service collaborated on the 10-day, one-credit, faculty-led course.
Rockefeller College taught the course, which exposed students to various experiences that made them better citizens and allowed them to think about political issues that our democracy was experiencing. The course included policy implications, emergency preparations, dealing with aftermath of the disaster and more. The students gained first-hand experience by helping restore housing and communal spaces, including parks and community centers.
This course improved students’ understanding of Hurricane Maria’s impacts on the lives of Puerto Ricans, while engaging them in service activities that strengthened the communities. Students identified relationships between social, economic and physical consequences of Hurricane Maria and the evolution of those consequences over time, particularly as they were reflected in physical and mental health.
The mini grant was used to offset the cost of transporting students to more remote areas, where they helped re-build houses for people with disabilities, the elderly and foster children.
Faculty: Sara Zahler and María Alejandra Aguilar, Assistant Professors of Spanish
Courses: ALLC 200, ASPN 405
Project Title: Research in Hispanic Studies Student Poster Presentation
During the Spring 2019 semester, students in Dr. Aguilar’s Hispanic literature course and students in Dr. Zahler Hispanic linguistics course completed a research project. Instead of culminating in final paper, students were offered a chance to present their research to an audience as if they were at a research conference, in order to gain experience presenting research. To give students experience presenting their research, the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures hosted a “Research in Hispanic Studies Student Poster Presentation” that was open the public. The mini grant funded the costs for printing the posters.
Students completed their research project in groups, then designed a poster and prepared a five minute speech presenting their results. Throughout the semester, the professors organized “workshops” in class to guide students in their research and poster creation. Students also received feedback throughout the semester as they developed their projects and submitted a draft of their poster in advance of the presentation session. Students were graded on their presentation and completed a self-reflection on their research, teamwork and poster presentation.
The project helped student gain experience completing Hispanic studies research and then presenting their findings in a conference format — skills they will use if they pursue research in any field. They learned how to design and format a poster, how to select what information to include and how to present their findings to an audience. The students’ peers and professors who attended the poster presentation also gained valuable research experience.