1998-1999 Williams Fund Recipients

History & English
An interdisciplinary course from Matthew Dennis, Department of History, and Gordon Sayre, Department of English, "Contested Events in Early America," is viewed through the different perspectives of two disciplines.

Taught over two quarters by Sayre and Dennis, this course presents a historical and literary exploration of America’s colonial and revolutionary period. The first goal of the class is to replace the conventional survey course syllabus with a class organized around specific events which exemplify some of the major cultural or political forces operating at the time, and which have been retold and reconfigured since then, including units on American foundations and the Pocahontas story; declaring independence -- the Declaration as an event; making sense of American antiquity--burial mounds and the new nation; slavery and anti-slavery; the Lewis and Clark expedition; captivity narratives in the colonial wars of New England from 1675 to about 1700; and Salem witch-hunting.

The second goal is to combine, not only the literary and historical sources, but the methods that the two disciplines of English and history take in examining such primary sources. As they teach, Sayre and Dennis explain how each approaches this material so students can see scholarly minds at work, and history and English majors can become conscious of how they are being trained in each discipline.

Recent courses: Colonial America and Revolutionary America.

An innovative approach to teaching geography, "Environmental Measurement and Mapping Across the Curriculum," led by Patricia McDowell and Aileen Buckley, Department of Geography.

Through this class, Patricia McDowell and Aileen Buckley offer an innovative exploration of new technologies such as global positioning systems, remote sensing of the environment, and powerful, but highly portable, field computers that are revolutionizing the way geographers map and monitor the world around us.

Through this award, McDowell and Buckley have been able to acquire equipment and develop a course in which students participate in measuring environmental characteristics - mapping the data immediately in the field and analyzing it as they continue to gather it. In addition to providing funds for the equipment, the Williams Award allows them time to learn the new technology and develop the participatory field-based course structure around it.

Chemistry (1997-1998, 1998-1999)
A peer-tutoring project called SUPeR Chemistry introduced by Deborah Exton in the Department of Chemistry.

In 1997, Deborah Exton introduced a new and innovative learning support program for students enrolled in general chemistry. Called SUPeR (Success Utilizing Peer Resources) Chemistry, the program uses undergraduate peer tutors–supervised by departmental faculty members–who offer review sessions to fellow students.

The peer "instructors" are nominated by faculty members based on their performance in the class and are selected through a group interview process. In the first year, nearly 30 percent of all students enrolled in general chemistry took advantage of the sessions; in the second year, the participation increased even further with more than 42 percent of the general chemistry students benefiting from the instruction and counsel of their peers.

Funded one-half from the department in its first year, and with an even larger portion of such funds in the second year, the program is now a continuing success funded through the department.

English (1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000)
An interdisciplinary project, "Writing for the Future," developed by Anne Laskaya, Department of English.

Responding to the writing needs of advanced undergraduate students, the Department of English Composition Program and the Center for Teaching Writing proposed a cooperative teaching program. Its aim was to help students successfully negotiate writing situations found within specific disciplines and prepare students for post-baccalaureate jobs and careers.

Several other universities, including Indiana, Minnesota, Cornell, and the University of Washington have recognized the same need and have established successful programs similar to the one made possible at Oregon by the Williams Fund.

Designed for students in their junior and senior years, the pilot program created sound and rigorous writing courses that were attached to and interwoven with advanced subject-area courses. With an emphasis on mutual responsibility of the participating departments and professional schools, the pilot's design included extensive training for teachers assigned to teach the courses.