2016-17 Williams Instructional Fund Recipients

Mathematical Thinking Labs

Hayden Harker, Senior Instructor I and Head Undergraduate Advisor, Department of Mathematics

The innovative Mathematical Thinking Labs are designed for freshmen and sophomore math majors to introduce creative mathematics early in their programs. The project recognizes that a gap exists between computational/procedural mathematics and more abstract mathematics, the creative and intuitive objects and tools that mathematicians use in their work. The Mathematical Thinking Labs engage students early in the questions and mathematical ideas that are outside their standard courses. 

Rethinking Early Islam

David Hollenberg, Assistant Professor of Arabic Language and Religious Studies

Stephen Shoemaker, Professor of Religious Studies

This project launches two new courses in winter 2017 and provides for the linking and integration of those courses.  ARB 410 Arabic Texts: Muhammad and Qur’an in Early Muslim Memory will be an advanced course requiring strong facility with the Arabic language; REL 410: Islamic Origins; Islam in the Seventh-Century Near East, will engage students in secondary literature and literature in translation.  Professors Hollenberg and Shoemaker will “set the two courses in conversation,” engaging students at an advanced level in two interrelated fields: the historical study of religious traditions and the philological, critical analysis of primary sources. The integration of the course will provide an interdisciplinary experience for the study of early Islam that is likely unique in North American undergraduate programs.

Anyone Can Code:  Bringing Arts into STEM to create STEAM

John Park, Instructor, Digital Arts Program

This project spearheads an initiative that opens computer programming to the larger student body by pairing foundational coding concepts with creativity.  The result will be a range of project-based outcomes that bring together the fine arts and programming.  Professor Park projects that successes will be seen in students who normally gravitate toward the sciences finding new creativity and in students who have been in the creative arts finding that they can do math and have fun doing it. 

MesoAmerican Foodways:  A new Clark Honors College International Cultures Colloquium

Analisa Taylor, Associate Professor, Romance Languages

This undergraduate interdisciplinary seminar traces the changing biological substance and the cultural significance of corn from its origins in pre-Hispanic MesoAmerica to its ascendancy in 20th and early 21st century U.S.-based transnational agribusiness. Beyond the seminar itself, the project will create a speakers series that will be accessible to undergraduate students as a whole, with wide appeal to students in Spanish, Latin American Studies, Ethnic Studies and Food Studies.

Broadening U.S. Business History: Social Movements and Markets

Arafat Valiani, Associate Professor, History

This project reconceptualizes HIST 363: U.S. Business History to incorporate new scholarly insights regarding the relationship between social movements and economic markets. The course offers students a new, broader, interdisciplinary pathway to understand business history, by looking at the impact on markets of feminism and entrepreneurship; social activists; gender and medical markets; non-western entrepreneurs; and female domesticity.