2002-2003 Williams Fund Recipients

Physics, History & Classics
"Culture and Scientific Discovery" is based on the premise that the proper study of links between culture and scientific discovery require many different perspectives. This course sequence focuses on that interplay in a set of three classes beginning in the sixth century B.C.E. and ending in the twentieth century. Taught by Greg Bothun, Department of Physics, John Nicols and Karl Appuhn, Department of History, and Malcolm Wilson, Department of Classics.

Created with the hope of exposing students to ideas and inspiring them to think critically about the foundation of those ideas, this course enables students to synthesize and criticize the essence of ideas from the point of view of different disciplines.

Through these courses, professors aim at demonstrating the close link between science and culture, and the respective biases that exist when one engages in fundamental investigations of nature in a politically-sensitive environment.

The overriding pedagogical goal of the class is to present a case where students can acquire knowledge and confront their own social, cultural and economic biases about "knowledge" and "truth."

Bruce Blonigen and Bill Harbaugh (Department of Economics) designed a program that allows economics students to apply their academic training to real-world problems at local nonprofit organizations.

Economics majors in general are trained in using analytical approaches to solving and understanding problems, and those at the University of Oregon are particularly distinguished by their extensive training in statistical (econometric) analysis. Much of this training, though, is theoretical rather than applied.

This class allows students, under the direction of faculty and staff from the non-profits, to identify questions and issues that can be addressed with their skills. They then analyze the necessary data and document their findings in research reports. Many of these reports have a significant benefit, both for the students and the non-profit organizations they work with.

Geology & Biology
Expanding a program that brings the small-class experience to students in courses with large enrollment. Marli Miller, Department of Geological Sciences, and Karen Sprague, vice provost for undergraduate studies and professor in the Department of Biology, developed optional, limited-enrollment seminars.

"First and second-year students at the University of Oregon have few opportunities to take low-enrollment courses," Marli Miller points out. "As a result, some students fall through the cracks in the university system or transfer to smaller schools with smaller class sizes."

In collaboration with Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Karen Sprague, Marli Miller has designed limited-enrollment, one-credit classes designed to offer small class experiences to students enrolled in large-enrollment classes.

Modeled on a seminar she offered earlier as a supplement to her Geology of the National Parks class, these classes are taught by Miller and four other science faculty members. The seminars are now taught as a regular part of the curriculum for about 15 courses per year --in the natural sciences, social sciences,
and humanities.