TIDE Awards foster dynamic new courses

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When COVID-19 shuttered the world, faculty in WSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) created new ways to give their students a global education. This summer, CLAS is rewarding innovative methods in teaching to keep that momentum going.

Select CLAS faculty received one-time, competitive grants from the college’s Teaching, Innovation, Development, and Excellence (TIDE) Award designed to support the transformation of their teaching methods. Developed by CLAS Dean Stephanie Hartwell and Associate Dean Heather Dillaway, the awards provide up to $5,000 to faculty for proposals to enhance the student experience beyond the classroom via technology.  

One such proposal by Professors Lori Pile and Thomas Fischer aims to nullify the profound public distrust in science illustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new hybrid course, Communicating Science and Community Engagement, will teach students how to use technology to effectively communicate scientific information and include opportunities for communicating in schools, science centers, with government representatives and the general public. 

Another winning proposal developed by Anthropology Associate Professor Barry Lyons will allow students to virtually interact with and learn alongside villagers living in the Ecuadorian Andes. The Virtual Ethnographic Field School will expand access for students who cannot afford the cost or time demands of travel abroad.  

“Study abroad and international field schools are only accessible to students who can put aside other educational, work, and family commitments — sometimes for several weeks or even months,” said Lyons. “That experience is often limited to those who can afford the costs of travel, accommodations, and other expenses on top of tuition. The internet, cell phones, and associated communication platforms such as Zoom and WhatsApp, make it possible to overcome these barriers by allowing students to connect with people around the world.”

It’s this kind of global thinking and innovation that Hartwell believes can change the face of higher education. 

“Our faculty have shown tremendous resilience and innovation throughout remote teaching. I’m floored by the creativity they’ve used to keep students engaged during the pandemic,” she said. “These awards will help continue this trend of developing new and exciting pedagogies that meet our students' needs through best practices in in-person and remote teaching and learning — now and for years to come.”

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