Office of the Provost

University of Rhode Island

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2014-2015 URI Grand Challenge Teaching Fellows

Continuing our efforts to sustain a model of active and collaborative learning, we invite you to participate in the 2014-2015 URI Grand Challenge Teaching Fellows Program.  This call for proposals seeks full-time faculty interested in developing new interdisciplinary general education courses that will engage our students and facilitate their exploration of multiple perspectives in areas of contemporary significance.

These new courses are opportunities to be innovative and allow you to integrate your passions in teaching and research.  The “Grand Challenge” course designation refers not to the level of difficulty in the course but rather the types of significant global challenges our students are facing as young adults in the 21st century. Topics for your proposed course must address one of the many global challenges in the world today, including, but not limited to:  multiculturalism and diversity, economy, climate change, peace and nonviolence, health, renewable energy, social media, international policy, entrepreneurship, sustainability, social justice, emerging technologies, ethics, etc.  Some of the topics of past Grand Challenge courses are listed on the last page of this RFP.  The objective is to expose our students to the critical issues they will be confronted with during their lifetime. Creativity is encouraged!

As part of the general education program, grand challenge courses help students build a foundation for lifelong learning and a thoughtful and active engagement with the world.  Consistent with the objectives of general education, grand challenge courses provide students the opportunity to explore, question, and wrestle with the current and complex issues of our world.  As we broaden the Grand Challenge program, faculty will have the opportunity to offer these courses to any student seeking to complete their general education requirements.  Courses may be offered in either Fall 2014 or Spring 2015.  Seats in Fall 2014 courses will be reserved mostly for incoming first year students.

Because the majority of students taking Grand Challenge courses are likely to be in their first or second year, we encourage you to consider the unique and varying skills, abilities, backgrounds, values, and interests that these students bring to their learning experience.  Instructing them is an opportunity to introduce and reinforce the academic rigor of college and the culture of URI.

Central to this program is the use of an interdisciplinary lens to explore complex problems.  As defined by the Interdisciplinary Solutions Task Force, “interdisciplinary study is a process of answering questions, solving problems, or addressing topics that are too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline. Interdisciplinary study draws on disciplinary perspectives and integrates their insights to produce a more comprehensive understanding or cognitive advancement.” There are two possible ways for your grand challenge course to meet this expectation: (1) Providing evidence that the course incorporates multiple disciplinary perspectives or (2) teaching with one or more faculty from different disciplines.

As a Grand Challenge Teaching Fellow, you will be expected to teach your course either during Fall 2014 or Spring 2015.  Class sizes in past Grand challenge classes have been limited to about 25 students; however, this year we are also welcoming proposals that will deliver Grand Challenge courses to larger class sizes. To support your efforts in developing an interdisciplinary course, two workshops will be held over the summer on topics including general education course requirements, discipline integration, syllabus development, and assessment. All Fellows are expected to attend these workshops.  In addition, Fellows will contribute to course and program assessment throughout the 2014-2015 academic year.

In recognition of the energy and work involved, you will receive a stipend of $1000 to develop a new grand challenge seminar and actively collaborate in the assessment of this initiative.   Faculty on nine-month contracts will receive this money as a summer 2014 stipend; faculty on a twelve-month contract will receive this money in their department accounts to be earmarked for their use during the 2014-2015 academic year.  Faculty will teach their Grand Challenge course as part of their regular workload or on an overload basis.

Deadlines: The application process consists of two phases.  The initial proposal should be submitted to your Dean’s office by March 3, 2014 and signed proposal should be submitted by your Dean’s office (i.e., their signature is required) by 5:00 PM on March 10, 2014 to the Provost Office (  Proposals will be reviewed by the General Education Task Force (GETF), and those selected will be notified by March 21, 2014.  Faculty whose proposals are selected (i.e., Grand Challenge Teaching Fellows) will work in conjunction with the GETF to design their courses.  The courses developed under this RFP will be designated as temporary general education “GCH” courses and can be offered three times before needing approval as a permanent general education course. The expectation is that GCH courses will continue to be an integral part of our General Education Program. The second phase consists of submitting the course syllabus and the completed GCH general education course approval form.  This material is due by May 12, 2014.  Fellows will have summer 2014 to finalize course content and engage in collaborative discussions with other GCH Fellows.

Requirements: Full-time status (tenure, tenure-track or lecturer) with support from department chair and dean.


Monday, March 3                                            Proposals are due to Dean’s office

Monday, March 10                                         Proposals are submitted to Provost Office by the Dean’s Office (Submit to

Friday, March 21                                             Notification is sent to all who submitted proposals

Monday, May 12                                              Phase two proposals are due

Monday, May 26                                              Notification is sent out of the list of approved grand challenge courses.

Summer 2014                                                  Fellows participate in two workshops

URI Grand Challenge Teaching Fellows 2014-2015 RFP

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