Public Service Endowment Grants Fund Faculty Projects

Three faculty-led projects have been awarded $15,000 Public Service Endowment Grants by the vice chancellor for research and engagement.

Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor of anthropology, plans to use the grant to train students from Holyoke’s Paolo Freire School as sociolinguistic ethnographers and work with them to remap the city’s sociolinguistic assets throughout the 2014-15 school year. Students from the alternative high will be taught skills for documenting and analyzing language and literacy practices in their school, homes and communities.

Theater department faculty Judyie Albilali, Gil McCauley and Priscilla Page are pursuing a large-scale, two-year project to research the legacy of African-American scholarship, consciousness and culture in the Pioneer Valley over the past 40 years. Their work will culminate in an original theater production with Five College students and faculty working in collaboration with community and professional artists. The grant will allow them to hold a series of community open forums around the issues of diversity, cultural self-definition and activism.

A third grant is supporting the creation of a town-gown “makerspace” to engage Amherst middle school youth in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The afterschool program would promote do-it-yourself creativity by providing a space and support the design and building of innovative solutions to problems the students identify in their community or lives. The project is being led by Paula Rees, director of diversity programs in the College of Engineering, Steven D. Brewer, director of the Biology Computer Resource Center, and Charles Schweik, associate professor of environmental conservation and public policy.

The awards are intended to enhance the public service mission of the campus by translating faculty and staff research for use that benefits community partners while engaging them in the process.

The funded projects were chosen from 12 proposals, according to Barbara Pearson of the Office of Research Development, who administers the grant program.