Williams Fund Showcase will share innovations in teaching

Sustainable Invention Immersion Week

Every year, the Williams Fund recognizes faculty members from across campus for their insightful approaches to undergraduate teaching.

An upcoming showcase will feature a panel of Williams Fund fellows and instructional grant recipients who will share insights and takeaways from their experience enhancing undergraduate education at the UO.

The panel will include Michelle McKinley, the Bernard B. Kliks professor of law; Kate Harmon, an instructor in the Lundquist College of Business; and Julie Haack, a senior instructor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a few other past fellows and grant recipients.

Harmon and Haack are the faculty members behind the UO Sustainable Invention Immersion Week, which was one of seven instructional proposals chosen by the Williams Council for 2017-18. The program was a one-week, entrepreneurial boot camp that brought students from across disciplines together to develop ideas to solve an environmental problem.

“Julie and I developed the Sustainable Invention Immersion Week initiative to drive students to solve big societal and environmental problems through the sustainable lens of green chemistry,” Harmon said. “Students were exposed to subjects and concepts they may never have sought out independently and learned how to work effectively with members of different majors, experience and backgrounds.”

The program was a first step toward building a wider campus “community of practice” around sustainable invention, while also giving students the opportunity to assess their ideas from a product and business standpoint.

“The two student teams who continued working on their ventures beyond the week participated in national business competitions, secured additional funding and legally organized their businesses working with the sustainable invention faculty team during the year to refine their products and business models,” Harmon said.

Along with instructional proposals, the council selects a small number of Williams fellows based on nominations. McKinley, a 2018-19 Williams fellow, is known for her exceptional mix of knowledge, passion, commitment and the care she brings to the classroom.

In the words of Marcilynn Burke, dean of the School of Law and Dave Frohnmayer Chair in Leadership and Law, McKinley “challenges students to think through issues of citizenship, political membership and belonging to confront their own deeply held positions and those that need greater reflection. McKinley explores with her students the implications of certain political choices for those who may be undocumented, from mixed status families or from nontraditional backgrounds.”

McKinley’s undergraduate courses focus on questions of citizenship, immigration and human rights. She regularly brings simulation exercises into the classroom and appoints students to lead discussions to promote thoughtful exchanges.

Lee Rumbarger, assistant vice provost for teaching engagement and one of the showcase organizers, regularly works with faculty members across campus to create inclusive, engaged and research-led teaching environments.

“The Williams Fund brings to life some of the most creative, exciting teaching ideas of our faculty,” Rumbarger said. “It's inspiring to have this venue where teaching excellence and innovation are acknowledged and great ideas to improve undergraduate education are funded. The fund has spanned over 20 years, 35 fellowships and more than 100 instructional proposals. It's a gift that has enlivened our teaching and learning culture in so many ways.”

The Williams Fund Showcase will be Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Erb Memorial Union’s Crater Lake North room. Faculty members interested in learning more about the Williams Fund and the work of past recipients are encouraged to attend. To RSVP or find more information about the showcase, visit the Teaching Engagement Program’s website.

Nominations for Williams fellows and instructional proposals applications for 2019-20 will open in winter term.

For more information about the Williams Fund, the Williams Council and past proposals and awards, visit the Office of the Provost’s website.