Grants to Faculty
Faculty members, individually or as groups, are invited to consider ways in which endowment funds can support the integration of experiential processes into their own learning as well as the learning of their students. Recent grants have covered:
- Funding for a member of the department of psychology to attend a clinic on mental training for athletic performance enhancement and to incorporate his learning in a course and in his voluntary work as a sports psychologist for student athletes.
- Funding for a member of the department of philosophy to bring a professional dancer to her class to lead exercises in movement that enable students to explore the influence of nonverbal forms of knowledge on the mind-body relationship.
- Funding for a member of the department of religion and the program of Asian studies to pursue advanced training in Qi Gong, Ayurveda, and Ashtanga Yoga and to incorporate their practices in a student seminar.
- Funding for a member of the department of geology and geography to bring a Canadian folk group to campus for a week’s song-writing residency, during which they attend classes to perform songs composed in response to particular geographic sites and geological events, help students to compose such songs themselves, and present a campus-wide concert.
- Funding for a member of the department of Drama to bring trainers of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training for a two week campus residency focusing on teaching students and faculty methods of core energy expression and corporeal awareness.
Faculty may also apply for summer stipends to pursue projects that meet the aims of the endowment.
Each year the Grant Endowment brings at least one distinguished scholar/practitioner involved in the verbal, kinesthetic, tactile, aural, and visual aspects of learning to give lectures and/or to lead workshops. The goal is to introduce all interested members of the Vassar community to various forms of embodied learning. Visitors may be invited for different periods of time, ranging from a day to a semester.
The first such visitor funded by the Grant Endowment was Howard Gardner, who spent a full day on campus participating in discussion and activities designed to explore theories of multiple intelligences and their application to education. Subsequent distinguished visitors include Twyla Tharp and Bill T. Jones, noted avant-garde choreographers; James Hillman, archetypal psychologist and scholar of myth; Vilayanur Ramachandran, preeminent neurologist who integrates research on visual and sensual anomalies with the study of art, and Chungliang Al Huang, Daoist teacher and calligrapher. With additional support from the office of the dean of the Faculty in the Spring of 2005, the Endowment sponsored Kristin Linklater as artist in residence in the department of drama; an innovator in techniques for freeing the natural voice and connecting the voice to the body and its emotions. She taught a class on movement and voice for students and another for members of the faculty.
Outside the Classroom
Recognizing that a great deal of the learning that occurs during the college years happens outside the classroom, the Grant Endowment provides support for activities that enable students to strengthen connections between their course work and their experiences of creativity outside the classroom. Recently funded activities include:
- Eight-week workshops entitled “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction,” in which participants learn to focus attention and reduce stress through a combination of yoga, meditation, and journaling.
- A four-week workshop on the experiential exploration of dreams, based on a process developed by Dr. Montague Ullman.
- Drop-in yoga sessions during exam week to help students and faculty lower stress levels at the end of each semester