2005-2006 Williams Fund Recipients

The Medieval Feast in Theory and Practice

Taught by Martha Bayless, Department of English.

From the size of dining tables to the social status of different breads, the impact of housing arrangements on family arguments to the contents of the pantry, this groundbreaking interdisciplinary class promises a feast of learning as well as food.

Seeking to engage students at the lower levels in ways that excite them about the possibilities of learning, this Humanities course sponsored by the Medieval Studies Program (where Professor Bayless is director), will introduce them to hands-on techniques of research and analysis that can benefit them for the rest of their college careers – and beyond.

Exploring such units of study as: The House and its Banquet Hall, The Master and Servants, How to Eat in the Fifteenth Century, The Food, What to Wear, The Entertainment, and The Feast Itself, this class may conclude (depending on university regulations) in a “Winter Medieval Feast” hosted and performed by the students themselves.

Writing, Public Speaking, and Critical Reasoning

Taught by Jim Crosswhite (English), David Frank (Honors College) and Anne Laskaya (English).

Too many outstanding students in a variety of disciplines graduate from college with little or no ability to communicate effectively in writing or public speaking. Because they have not had the opportunity to learn and practice, they can be reduced to making an embarrassed presentation behind a podium or, perhaps worse, addicted to the technology of PowerPoint presentations.

Recognizing the vital importance of graduating with the ability to write well, speak in public and think critically, the faculty behind this class propose to create an interdisciplinary sequence of courses that combines teaching from Philosophy, English, and Writing.

Open to all majors, and with various degrees of involvement possible, the program promises to offer new dimensions of experience and learning that can enrich students’ lives long after they leave the university.

Redesign Of Two Romance Language Courses

Taught by Gina Psaki and Nathalie Hester, Italian; and Barbara K. Altmann and Karen McPherson, French.

In an effort to attract more students to Romance Languages (Italian, French, and Spanish), the Romance Languages faculty is proposing to increase the size of an introductory class that, initially, looks at the cultural legacies of Italy and France without demanding that students learn the languages. A Spanish component will be added later. Though class size will be increased, a parallel goal of the class will be to do so without sacrificing quality or student-teacher contact.

This proposal is aimed at increasing the university’s broad-spectrum humanities teaching in English to emphasize what the United States has gained and still needs to gain from outside its borders. The class will teach freshmen, not only what Europe’s cultural legacies are, but also how to study, research and write about them.

A Hands-On Approach to Community Mapping

Taught by Marc Schlossberg, Planning, Public Policy, and Management.

Based on the belief that technology can serve society, even down to local neighborhoods, this class proposes to involve students in the use of Global Information Systems (GIS) - computerized map making - to help communities analyze various environments in order to make decisions that will benefit the community.

Examples from the planning field include: understanding the distribution of poverty across Lane County, finding gaps in service delivery of social service agencies, or measuring just how convenient it is or isn’t for children to walk to and from school. With applications in geography, geology, landscape architecture, sociology, and business, to name a few, this class promises to involve undergraduate students in experiences that will benefit them as well as their communities.