Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, November 12, 2012

Third Century Initiative seeks ideas to boost experiential learning

The Third Century Initiative continues to pick up momentum to propel U-M as the world's leading public university for the next 100 years, with several innovative programs under way and a call this week for proposals.

Launched a year ago, the initiative is a bold plan to use $50 million in existing funds over five years for the development of innovative student learning experiences and creative approaches to the world's greatest challenges and opportunities.

It has created:

• M-Cubed, a two-year program to seed interdisciplinary research projects with major societal impact. This first-of-its-kind, real-time research funding initiative puts $15 million into the hands of professors to jumpstart new projects they believe in. To qualify, three researchers from different disciplines need to come up with an idea and agree to work together. The 250 projects that will be funded are admittedly high-risk, but also potentially very rewarding.

• Learning Analytics Task Force, established to help faculty and students take advantage of instructional data to achieve success in the classroom.

• Student Learning Advisory Committee and Global Challenges Advisory Committee, two faculty committees formed to provide recommendations to the president and provost regarding the allocation of funding for the action-based learning and global challenges components of the Third Century Initiative.

This week, the Student Learning Advisory Committee is putting out a call to faculty and staff across campus for proposals to enhance action-based, experiential learning for students. The program, Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC), is open to all units and disciplines and seeks a broad array of proposals, ranging from new applications of existing best practices to high-risk/high-reward experimental innovations.

"The program aims to fund the most exciting and innovative ideas from across the University of Michigan campus to enhance learning for students," says Phil Hanlon, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "The goal is to stimulate creative thinking among faculty, staff and students, and develop programs that will intensify student learning experiences in and beyond the classroom."

TLTC has two options: Quick Wins and Discovery and Transformation.

Quick Wins will provide up to $25,000 for relatively small-scale, "shovel-ready" projects that have transformative potential for curriculum, pedagogy and student learning. Competition for funding will occur quarterly through the 2015-16 academic year.

Discovery and Transformation is a longer-term, two-phase funding program intended to inspire forward-thinking approaches to student learning. The program embraces risk, discovery and experimentation, empowering faculty and staff to explore opportunities beyond traditional resources and networks.

The Discovery grant program will run on a biannual basis through 2015-16 with up to $50,000 for accepted projects. Proposals should be based on a general hypothesis regarding teaching and student learning that can be questioned, explored and planned or piloted during an initial exploratory funding period.

At the end of the Discovery phase, proposals may be submitted for Transformation funds ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. The grants will be used to implement new teaching and learning approaches for long-term adoption that may involve changes to infrastructure, developing new course materials, technology investment, partnering with community groups and more.

Proposals for TLTC (both Quick Wins and Discovery) will be due Jan. 15, 2013. Submission information, including application format and funding criteria, will be included in an email to be sent later this week and will be available on the Office of the Provost Third Century Initiative website.

The Student Learning Advisory Committee will make funding recommendations for the TLTC program to the president and provost. Members include: Melanie Sanford (chair), Phil Deloria, Tim McKay and Colleen Seifert of LSA; Aileen Huang-Saad of the College of Engineering; Elizabeth Moje of the School of Education; Joe Trumpey of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design; and Malcolm Tulip of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

In addition to the TLTC Program, the Third Century Initiative's Global Challenges Advisory Committee soon will invite proposals for the development of creative approaches to the world's greatest challenges and opportunities.

When she first announced it, President Mary Sue Coleman said the Third Century Initiative, "Will give students the skills and experiences they need to be effective leaders — leaders with the confidence to innovate, be entrepreneurial and reinvent themselves.

"We envision new programs and academic experiences that prepare graduates who aspire to advance the public good, while also advancing our research and service work to develop solutions to the world's most pressing problems."