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Current Grant Recipients

VPTL Current Grant Recipients

Teaching and Learning Tools based on The Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia

Patricia Parker

The Stanford Global Shakespeare Encyclopedia--scheduled for release online in 2019 as a Stanford-based global educational resource free to anyone in the world with access to the internet--will be the most comprehensive work of its kind, a heavily illustrated encyclopedia that draws upon the expertise of an internationally renowned advisory and editorial board and hundreds of expert contributors from around the world to detail Shakespeare's life, works, historical contexts, and global impact through the centuries, in over 4,000 entries. This VPTL project based on it will--prior to the encyclopedia’s online release--develop topical and other interconnections between its related entries into syllabi for teachers at both high school and university levels; make possible its inclusion of Lesson Plans based on individual topics and plays; and generate innovative curricular and teaching tools for both collaborative and individually-taught courses at Stanford, which will be available around the globe as an integral part of the encyclopedia’s contents and enable any teacher, student, or user to acquire, via this open-access online resource, a truly diverse and broad-based global education.

School of Humanities & Sciences; English and Comparative Literature (50/50 Professorial Appointment)


Blending Virtual Reality and Web-based Learning for Congenital Heart Disease Education

David Axelrod; David Sarno

Virtual reality (VR) is certain to play a leading role in the future of medicine and health sciences education. Our work will take medical VR education to a new level -- leveraging the expertise of bioengineers, computer scientists, and physicians at Stanford to build world-class virtual reality experiences focused on the core of human physiology: the heart.
Specifically, we will build a blended learning course around an established virtual reality experience that our team has already developed: The Stanford Virtual Heart (short video trailer here). The Stanford Virtual Heart enables learners to enter a beating heart and learn about its anatomy and physiology, as well as what happens when abnormalities develop. We believe that next generation blended courses must create pedagogical mechanisms that connect web courses to VR experiences (called "web+VR"). Learners can move smoothly from screen-based learning to immersive VR learning, and back -- much like students might move between lab and classroom, bringing knowledge and activities from one to the other.

School of Medicine; Pediatrics, School of Engineering


Renewing the Introductory Course in Urban Studies

Michael Kahan

More than half of the world’s population today lives in cities. It is no exaggeration to say that this is a monumental shift in the history of humanity, carrying tremendous implications for our economy, environment, and culture. The mission of Stanford’s Program on Urban Studies is to prepare students not merely to be informed citizens of this world, but to be leaders who can shape an urban future that is sustainable, livable, inclusive and vibrant.

The current introductory course in Urban Studies (Urban Studies 110), however, is a product of an earlier era, with a distinctive set of concerns - concerns rooted in the American urban crises of the 1960s and 70s. While those issues remain very salient, it is time for the Urban Studies introductory course to expand its scope, and to take account of the urban world as it is today, and as it will be tomorrow. We propose to revamp the curriculum of Urban Studies 110 by bringing a team of scholars and practitioners whose expertise collectively spans Latin America, the United States, and East Asia. In doing so, we aim to ensure that students in the course are truly prepared for the urban world they will inhabit.

School of Humanities & Sciences;Program on Urban Studies


Stanford’s Global Impact on Prepping the Future of Information

Kamram Naim; John Willinsky

This proposal seeks to develop an innovative online course to improve information literacy, research skills, critical thinking, and informed online citizenry among students at Stanford and beyond. Leveraging our distinct expertise developed through STS151, we will develop a series of self-paced online instructional modules on information literacy for the digital era, which will be take the form of (a) a for-credit online course taught by Stanford faculty (b) a blended or hybrid for-credit course combining online and in-person sessions (c) discrete self-paced modules on various information strategies for use by instructors and students across campus (d) an open educational resource that can be used beyond Stanford by instructors, students, and the public, including learners in under-resourced communities. These modules will deliver course content on core themes of trust, authority, and verification; information economies and intellectual property; information quality, reliable sources, and access to research; technology, mental health, and mindfulness. Modules will be designed to be easily updatable and localized, with activities designed to develop and assess skill levels. Through this effort, we aim for Stanford to play a global role in addressing the crisis of misinformation and anti-science, and the jeopardy placed on functioning societies and democracy.

Graduate School of Education, School of Humanities and Sciences; Stanford Program on Science, Technology & Society


ITALIC Arts Podcast

Karla Oeler

ITALIC is applying for an Experimental Grant to develop an arts podcast.  Over the span of three quarters, students in ITALIC’s residential arts-immersion program learn to ask generative questions about how to make and encounter works of art. Their creativity, thinking, and discoveries deserve to be known to a wider public.  This project will serve current and former ITALIC students and the broader Stanford community.  We also envisage the podcast as a way to interest potential future students in ITALIC and in the arts at Stanford.  Our goals are to establish the technical means, support, and skills for a successful podcast.  We aim to produce one podcast per quarter.  Podcasts, planned and hosted by ITALIC students, may include interviews with artists and scholars; reviews; conversations about recently encountered artworks; and arts games or quizzes. We aim to build a team of first- through fourth-year ITALIC students that will solidify the ITALIC community.  We expect the public nature of podcasting to raise the stakes of how students make, think, and speak about art, leading them to do so with increasing engagement, confidence, and care.  We will measure success by whether we can maintain a cohort of three students per quarter committed to extracurricular podcast production; and by surveying the experiences of the production team, interviewees and listeners.  To establish the ITALIC Podcast, we are requesting $10,000.



Your Body Inside and Out: Using Exercise Physiology to Slow Aging

Anne Friedlander

Previous experience tells us that life-long learners thirst for knowledge about their own bodies, health, physical activity and aging. To help these learners, our primary goal is to develop an online class to teach scientifically rigorous, yet practical information, on how to change the trajectory of aging. Our second goal is to innovate around how the education content is delivered so that we can better engage on campus and distance learners, including providing a bridge to share Stanford’s distinctive research with a broad, diverse audience. Strategies we will use to engage participants include a non-linear (modular) format, layered information that can be tailored to individual learning styles, virtual reality physiology elements (“Your body inside and out”), stories that bring the material to life, interviews with top Stanford scientists, practical guidance on health strategies, and physiologic data collection that can be used to track outcomes of learning.  Our team’s combined passion for the topic drives the creativity and desire to innovate in order to better reach an expansive audience with information we hope will inspire and transform individuals while potentially helping to nucleate a wider societal impact as well.

School of Humanities & Sciences; Program in Human Biology


Child Development & Behavior Master Class - Module 1

David Ansel; Christina Buysse

Limited access to medical providers with expertise in child behavior and development is a significant public concern.  Associated disorders affect 20-30% of children in the United States.  Primary care providers express discomfort independently managing these common problems.  Workforce shortages in child psychiatry and developmental-behavioral (DB) pediatrics (DBP) result in long wait times for specialty care.  Diagnosis and treatment of developmental conditions is often delayed, and is even harder to obtain for children in rural areas or of lower socioeconomic status.  

Our aim is to provide primary care clinicians with the tools necessary to confidently and competently handle many DB problems.  The content of our Master Class is selected from the didactic portion of the first year of DBP fellowship training. On completion, PCPs will have acquired a DB skill set and knowledge base far beyond that taught during a pediatric residency, and will possess the foundation necessary to continue learning through clinical experience over time.  Because of this, we plan to recognize their accomplishment with a certificate suitable for display in an office waiting room.  This validation will bolster the confidence of provider and patient alike, empowering care to occur inside the medical home.

School of Medicine; Pediatrics


Impacting School of Engineering Grant Writing Using Innovative Bootcamp

Rachel Sparks; Crystal Botham

The ability to write successful grants is a key skill for any scientist or academic, and is unlike any other form of scientific writing (e.g. journal publications, news articles, scientific reports). The School of Engineering (SoE) currently provides grant writing training for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty but the fastest growing population across the University, SoE postdoctoral scholars, are currently underserved in this area. The Grant Writing Academy (GWA), within the School of Medicine, has already established an award winning training program for graduate and postdocs to develop grant writing skills. This collaboration will pilot a SoE Proposal Bootcamp based on the successful GWA model, a unique combination of informational talks, peer-review sessions, faculty videos and feedback. This VPTL grant will enable the development of new engineering specific course content, SoE Grant Coach training and filming of SoE faculty videos, with the aim to increase postdoctoral grant application success and develop writing confidence. This pilot program will be this first step in tailoring the GWA model to reach a broader audience.

School of Engineering, School of Medicine


Development of a New Campus-Wide Undergraduate Course on “Oceans”

Robert Dunbar

There are few oceans-oriented courses at Stanford. Nearly all are “mature” in the sense that they have been taught for many years and often by the same faculty. Nearly all are offered within and taught by faculty from a single department. With this proposal we request support and guidance to create a new Oceans undergraduate course that takes advantage of knowledge and faculty from many disciplines and that utilizes new pedagogies and technologies to impart a high level interdisciplinary understanding of the ocean as a complex system. Our wish is to dramatically increase the numbers of Stanford students that have attained ocean literacy and developed new interests in the oceans. We see this course as a key first step in the development of an entirely new oceans curriculum with multiple new course offerings.

School of Earth Energy & Environmental Sciences, School of Humanities & Sciences, School of Engineering


U.K. and U.S. Comparative Arts in Prison Rehabilitation Project

Janice Ross

This global research initiative seeks to understand and explore how incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated, populations in the U.K., and particularly London and its immediate surroundings, are being served by exemplary models of arts in prisons rehabilitation programs. The UK has a fraction of its population incarcerated compared to the US and a relative abundance of arts-focused rehabilitation programs yet no comprehensive cross-comparative analysis has been done in regard to the impact of arts in prisons programming in each nation.  Drawing on Stanford’s distinctive research and scholarly strengths in both social and political performance and public service, and set within the context of the campus’s signature Bing Overseas Study Program, in this instance the Oxford campus, this project brings these three celebrated learning opportunities for undergraduates together in a transnational arts research and service learning project. Designed to demonstrate the potential for fostering expanded student engagement in the arts and service as well as global understanding, through community research and hands on learning options outside of the US, this new pedagogic approach honors the unique expertise of community partners in building and testing this new learning experience.

School of Humanities & Sciences; Theater and Performance Studies


Language and Politics:  Ethnographic Approaches

Miyako Inoue

The aim of this project is to develop courses in the ethnographic study of language and politics that will be broadly accessible to students across the Social Sciences and Humanities.  The courses will draw on concepts and approaches developed in linguistic anthropology to examine how language is used in a range of political settings, including debates about hate speech, sexual harassment, free speech, censorship, trolling, and the new social media.  Linguistic anthropology is a major subfield of the discipline of anthropology, and many undergraduate students in both anthropology and the School of Education have expressed interest in studying language through an ethnographic approach. However, neither academic unit currently offers a regular program of courses in the ethnographic study of language. This project  will develop courses that serve that interest.

School of Humanities & Sciences; Anthropology


Symbolic Systems Program

Ken Taylor; Todd Davies

We are seeking a grant to support a core group of Symbolic Systems Program affiliated faculty to create durable content for our introductory course, "Minds and Machines" (SYMSYS 1 / LINGUIST 35 / PHIL 99 / PSYCH 35). This course, which is currently taught once per year in the Autumn, quadrupled in size over the past four years, from an enrollment that varied between 55 and 90 in the years through 2013-2014, to an Autumn 2017-2018 enrollment of 349. We attribute this large increase to a few likely or possible factors:

  • Growing interest in the Symbolic Systems major, for which "Minds and Machines" is a required core course (annual declarations have also increased very significantly and monotonically since 2010);
  • Changes that we introduced starting in 2014-2015, including a reorientation of the curriculum toward freshman and sophomores, the renaming of the course from "Introduction to the Cognitive and Information Sciences" to "Minds and Machines", and a new requirement that undergraduates take the course prior to declaring our major;
  • Increased publicity about the course and about our major, including news features on our program and some of its prominent alumni, and more awareness about/promotion of our program among UAR staff; and
  • A possible increase in interest in the course as a way to fulfill the Ways of Thinking, Ways of Doing requirement in "Formal Reasoning".

School of Humanities & Sciences; Symbolic Systems


Blundering into a Nuclear Catastrophe: How it Could Happen, How to Prevent it

William Perry

For the first time since the end of Cold War, people are beginning to talk about nuclear weapons and express fears about imminent nuclear conflict. During 2017, the world watched with increasing alarm as North Korea and the U.S. engaged in dangerous nuclear brinksmanship. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia continue to grow, while each country rebuilds their Cold War nuclear arsenals. Citizens in Hawaii were terrified of imminent nuclear annihilation during a recent false alarm. "Blundering into a Nuclear Catastrophe" will explain how the danger of a nuclear blunder has grown, how we got to this dangerous place, and actions that might improve the current situation. Through a series of podcasts, short videos, and engagement in current media, "Blundering" will illustrate and elucidate past nuclear accidents; false alarms; the escalation of regional conflicts such as in North Korea and India and Pakistan; the growing tension between the U.S. and Russia as each rebuilds its nuclear arsenals; and the political miscalculations and nuclear blunders that could result from these situations.

This project is endorsed by Michael McFaul, Director of the Freeman-Spogli Institute (FSI), with faculty support (Scott Sagan) from the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). Dr. Perry is a professor (emeritus) in Management Science and Engineering.


Intersectional identities and the decision to study STEM

Rebecca Bromley-Dulfano

Although much attention has been given to increasing diversity and inclusivity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, the lack of diversity and inclusivity in many STEM fields remains a salient and unresolved problem. In this novel interdisciplinary study, we combine machine learning methods and social science methodologies to study how social identities—including gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status—and their intersections influence undergraduate students’ decision to major in a STEM field. We track undergraduate students’ change of majors throughout their college career, and study factors leading them to change their majors. We then run a machine learning algorithm to analyze the relevance of social identities to their choice of majoring in a STEM field. This allows us to structurally identify and quantitatively estimate the most important factors that must be addressed in order to increase diversity and inclusivity in STEM fields. We make recommendations as to how STEM departments can use our results to enhance diversity and inclusivity amongst current and prospective undergraduate STEM majors.

School of Humanities & Sciences; Biology


Development of an Instructor-Free Course on Policy and Research for English Language Learners

Claude Goldenberg

The goal of this project is to create an instructor-free, credit-bearing online course for Stanford graduate students that focuses on English language learners (ELLs) in K-12 schools. Beginning with the 2018-2019 academic year, the Stanford GSE will not have any faculty with the depth and breadth of expertise in federal policies and instructional research required to teach this course. ELLs constitute more than 10% of the K-12 population, creating a need for prospective leaders to understand federal law and policy governing ELL education and research on effective school and classroom practices for these students. Education leaders and policy makers prepared by the GSE's Leadership Degree Programs must understand policy and research and be able to apply them in order to evaluate and create suitable programs for ELLs. In Spring 2018, Goldenberg will teach a blended course on these topics as a transition to the instructor-free course to be developed for this project and offered in Winter 2019. The 2019 course will be evaluated by comparing results of the 2018 blended course and the 2019 instructor-free course with respect to students' (a) learning of course content and (b) subjective evaluations of their course experience.

Graduate School of Education


Connecting theory and practice in teacher education through innovative summer program

Sarah Levine; Antero Garcia

Despite decades of progress, teacher education programs still face a gap between the academic “ivory tower” and the “real world” of the K-12 classroom: University training programs focus on pedagogical, student-focused theory but do not teach how to enact those theories. When student teachers enter the classroom, they lack practical teaching skills and fall back upon more conventional, teacher-focused practices. This proposal aims to address the gap between these two worlds by re-designing, implementing, and evaluating a summer curriculum and instruction course in the Stanford Teacher Education Program. This course will bring together university faculty, mentor teachers, and Stanford students to plan, teach, and reflect at a local middle school. In our re-designed course, all three groups will jointly build a narrative writing unit based on constructivist, student-centered theories. Then, all participants will teach together, working in one local middle school to help 6-8th grade students build a range of literacy skills. Finally, all will reflect on and plan future instruction together after each day of teaching. Designing the course in this way gives Stanford students the opportunity to see how education theories play out in the classroom, and creates common ground for shared practices based on shared theoretical assumptions.analysis of instruction. We hope this pilot can become a model for other teacher education courses at Stanford and other schools of education.

Graduate School of Education; Stanford Teacher Education Program


Implementing a Virtual Field Trip at Scale

Jeremy Bailenson

We will take an existing Virtual Reality “field trip” about Climate Change, and will fund two graduate students this summer to scale up the experience for in-depth research and mass distribution.
In 2017, VR lab researchers visited the Micronesian island nation of Palau to capture underwater 360-video. We are now completing multiple learning modules about climate change adaptation based on those 360-videos and additional computer graphics to add interactivity.
The VPTL grant has three goals:

  1. Improve the learning modules based on the data from participants at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in April, where over 2,000 people will experience it as experimental participants.
  2. Make the modules work across platforms. By April it will be working with the HTC Vive VR System.  It is labor intensive to program virtual reality content to work across platforms (i.e. Oculus Rift, Sony PlaystationVR).
  3. Distribute the learning materials broadly.  For physical locations, we have an existing relationship with the San Jose Tech Museum, who has agreed to feature the experience as a permanent exhibit. For digital distribution, we have previously demonstrated success posting learning materials online, for free, on Steam and Oculus Share. There are now more than 10 million homes in the USA that have high end VR systems (that is a conservative estimate) and want to make our learning content prominent in every one.

School of Humanities & Sciences; Communication