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Creative Discovery Grants 2018-2019

For the second semester in a row, Berkeley Arts + Design awarded Creative Discovery Grants to Berkeley faculty seeking to develop new undergraduate courses or to enhance existing ones through creative, engaged, participatory learning techniques. The grants are aligned with the core mission of Berkeley’s campus-wide Discovery Initiative to engage and support undergraduate students in immersive, experiential learning projects.

In total, 25 grants of up to $5,000 each were awarded on a competitive basis in 2018-19 for classes ranging from “Labor Studies” to “Design Activism,” from “Wellness and Technology” to “Native American Literatures,” from “Designing and Activating Public Space” to “Theaters of Apocalypse.” Creative Discovery Grants allow faculty to experiment broadly with innovative learning environments that foreground reflective making and producing. Below are snapshots of a few of our spring Creative Discovery Grant recipients. See this article for stories of our Fall 2018 grant recipients.

In Patricia Steenland’s College Writing course, “Images of History,” students engaged in a collaborative project that allowed them to go face-to-face with the impact of historical events on the Berkeley campus. Students conducted primary, archival research on the Japanese internment of two UC Berkeley students, and on the Provost who spoke out against it. The class designed and installed three arrangements, in Doe Library, Wurster Library, and California Hall, each consisting of a life-sized laser-cut acrylic image accompanied by a plaque and an Adobe Spark page providing details on their lies and stories. This information can be accessed at Students called this class “a once in a lifetime creative project” and responded that they were strongly inspired by it to seek out new opportunities, classes, and activities. Said Steenland: “This grant enabled the group to create a project that brought greater awareness of a significant historical event as it impacted the Berkeley campus. I have always incorporated primary source-based learning into my classes. But this grant allowed students to make their research visible in a way that was both gratifying and exciting.”

In Jennifer Mangold’s Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations class, students from over 20 different majors helped develop innovative solutions to health and wellness challenges facing kids and older adults. Students conducted customer research, employed lo-fidelity prototyping methods, and engaged in technology solution product ideation and design. “This grant allowed us to integrate video as a storytelling and creative medium for our students to share their design process, the customer stories, and the solutions that they developed to address public health challenges,” Mangold told us. “Empathy and compassion are core to the design process. Our students were designing for older adults and it was important for them to understand the specific needs of that population and their experiences and stories. Video provided a medium for them to meaningfully capture their customer engagement and ethnography while respecting the stories and uniqueness of each person.”

Jill Miller’s students in Art Practice spent the semester researching, designing, and planning a transformation of the Wurster South Courtyard from a gutted and stripped down site to a multi-use space for video screenings, performance work, and collaborative projects. Students explored the history of public gardens and piazzas through research and field trips, experimented with a range of materials for the built and natural environment, and designed the layout for the courtyard installation. Miller told us that the grant “was absolutely essential to helping renovate the Wurster South Courtyard (aka Platform) from a dumping ground to the beginning of a vibrant public space. From buying paint for our mural to hosting our new website and everything in between, the grant gave the students and me freedom to fully explore the possibilities. Thank you!” Visit the students’ website to see images of the project.

In “Language and Movement,” Rhetoric professor Marianne Constable combined Feldenkrais Method and Awareness-through-Movement sessions with academic readings on language, bodies, and action to increase awareness around the ways we move and use language in coming to know the world around us. The grant enabled Constable to take students to Cal performances, allowing them to draw out the analogy between the dynamic performances and the movement of their writing. “I usually take students to just one and use my own research funds,” said Constable. “Doing it this way allowed me to have a much more sophisticated writing assignment around performance and by the second one, they wrote really good papers.”

In a student survey conducted at the end of the semester, 100% of the students agreed that the course provided a creative opportunity that they would not have otherwise had, and 84.4% answered yes to the question “this course inspired you to seek out new creative opportunities, classes, or activities.” When asked which of the creative opportunities offered to them were the most enriching, 65.6% answered the workshops, 59.4% named access to materials and infrastructure, 56.3% listed guest speakers, 53.1% named learning about tools and software, 34.4% named field trips, and 3.1% named skills and thought processes.

When faculty were asked how they would characterize the effects of their creative discovery project on student learning, 73% replied “a lot” to the category “self-reflexive critical thinking”; 64% did to “project-based learning” and to “multi-modal learning”; 55% did to “a tolerance for ambiguity”; 45% did to “collaboration and cooperation” and to “risk and failure driven learning”; and 44% did to “empathy and compassion.”

When asked what they see as the biggest funding needs for creative opportunities, 80% of faculty replied “artistic materials and infrastructure”; 50% replied “workshops”; 40% replied “teaching support”; 30% replied “field trips”; 20% replied “guest speakers”; 10% replied “digital tools and software training”; and 10% replied “other.”

It has been an immense privilege to work with all of our grantees, and to see the incredible work that they have produced with their students. Click here to see full details on all of our Spring grantees.


And here, below, is a full list of our grantees for the 2018-2019 academic year:

Fall 2018 Creative Discovery Grant Recipients

158B Situated Instrument Design for Musical Expression
Edmund Campion
Department: Music


Environmental Design 4a: Design Activism
Greg Castillo
Department: College of Environmental Design


ED1 Introduction to Environmental Design
Nicholas de Monchaux
Department: Architecture


DES INV 22 Prototyping & Fabrication
Amy Dinh, Eric Paulos, and Emily Rice
Department: Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation


HA37 Contemporary Art + Architecture from Asia, ca.
Atreyee Gupta
Department: History of Art


ART 199/002 Supervised Independent Study
Farley Gwazda and Allan deSouza
Department: Art Practice


Music 152A Advanced Musicianship
Matthew Hough
Department: Music


121 Performance and Culture Theaters of Apocalypse
Angela Marino
Department: Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies


Art 23 AC: Data Arts
Greg Niemeyer
Department: Art Practice


Art 178 Game Design Methods
Greg Niemeyer
Department: Art Practice


NATAMST/AMSTUD 152 Native American Literature
Beth Piatote
Department: Ethnic Studies


ESPM 50AC Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource
Kurt Spreyer
Department: Environmental Science, Policy, and Management


Comparative Literature 190 Postwar Literature and
Film: Inheriting Cultural Disaster
Sophie Volpp
Department: Comparative Literature


Rhetoric 123 Rhetoric of Performance
Winnie Wong
Department: Rhetoric


Spring 2019 Creative Discovery Grant Recipients

Rhetoric 184: Language and Movement
Marianne Constable
Department: Rhetoric


Public Policy 190: Introduction to Labor Studies
Anibel Ferus-Comelo
Department: Goldman School of Public Policy & Labor Center


History of Art C62 - Introduction to Italian Renaissance Art
Henrike Lange
Department: History of Art


SPH 196 Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations
Jennifer Mangold
Department: Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership


Art 160 Designing and Activating Public Space
Jill Miller
Department: Art Practice


Design Innovation 198
Vivek Rao
Department: Design Innovation (Engineering)


Portfolio Workshops
Emily Rice
Department: Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation


ES21AC - A Comparative Survey of Race and Ethnicity in the United States: An Introduction to Abolition Pedagogy and Practice
Victoria Robinson
Department: Ethnic Studies


CWR4B Images of History
Patricia Steenland
Department: College Writing Programs


Theater 146B Choreography: Compositional Study
Lisa Wymore
Department: Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies


Art8A: Intersections of Art Design and Technology
Shari Paladino
Department: Art Practice