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About the Course Development Grant

Rutgers University-Newark is committed to further enriching our diverse campus climate by leveraging high-impact pedagogical practices at critical junctures for student success. With a focus on increasing students’ learning, commitment to civic responsibility, and motivation to complete college and become change agents in their own communities and beyond, the university is coordinating multiple initiatives across campus with an eye toward student success. The Lumina Fund for Racial Justice and Equity is committed to improving postsecondary attainment—the proportion of residents holding a high-quality postsecondary credential relative to the whole adult population—for young people of color.

Courses selected for this initiative incorporated design elements intended to improve student retention (including persistence in the major), credit accumulation, and student engagement. Examples of effective design elements included, but were not limited to:

  • Collaborative assignments and projects, including designated peer study groups, team-based assignments and writing, and cooperative projects and research;

  • Student research experiences that connected course learning outcomes with hands-on research opportunities alongside faculty;

  • Intercultural and / or global learning opportunities;

  • Dialogue and dialogic pedagogy;

  • Efforts to reduce the risk of stereotype threat, including exposing students to diverse
    experts in the subject matter and in related career fields; and

  • Field-based “experiential learning” with community partners.

This course (re)design initiative 1) afforded faculty the opportunity to enhance their
pedagogical and scholarly interests through integration with high-impact pedagogical practices; 2) increase students’ knowledge of their community and the world; and 3) further broaden Rutgers-Newark’s commitments to diversity and inclusion. Courses (including online and hybrid courses) considered for inclusion in the “cluster” of courses funded by the Lumina Fund grant included elements associated with these goals.

Eligibility: This university-wide initiative was open to all tenured, tenure-track, and full-time non-tenure track faculty as well as staff with teaching responsibilities.

As part of the Lumina grant awarded to Rutgers-Newark, The Office of Student Affairs organized a series of student-led dialogues to increase student awareness and engagement around diversity, identity, and inclusion.

About the Submission Process

All proposals included:

  1. Cover Page: The cover page included:

    • The applicant’s name, position, department, unit, and campus contact information.

    • The title (and course number, if available) of the proposed or redesigned course and approximate number of students.

    • The signature of applicant.

    • Signature of applicant’s department chair indicating approval of selected course for the “cluster”of courses supported through this initiative (a separate, brief letter from the department chair sufficed).

  2. Syllabus of Proposed Course: Included at least one sample syllabus from the course proposed to create or redesign.

  3. Statement: A statement (of no more than 1,000 words) that explained interest in
    this course design project, including:

    • How the course aligned with the university’s strategic plan.

    • How the goals of the Lumina Fund for Racial Justice and Equity would be furthered by the proposed course innovation.

    • How the course would be developed or redesigned.

    • The anticipated learning outcomes and anticipated impact of the course.

    • Potential assessment techniques.

The statement also included a description of the applicant’s engagement with existing faculty development opportunities at RU-N, including but not limited to, any of the initiatives of the P3 Collaboratory, Intergroup Dialogue, Difficult Dialogues, the ACUE course in teaching effectiveness, the Office of Globally Engaged Experiential Learning, the Chancellor’s Seed Grant Program, and any departmental- or unit-specific faculty development initiatives.

Application Evaluation Criteria: Applications were selected competitively on:

  1. The comprehensiveness of the proposal, including the rationale, connection between racial justice and equity and the course content, and projected learning outcomes.

  2. Clarity and presentation of the proposal.

  3. The relevance of the proposal to the Rutgers-Newark strategic initiatives.

  4. The applicant’s demonstrated commitment to faculty development and effective teaching practices.


As part of this initiative, faculty awarded course design grants completed the following:

  • Participated in a biweekly faculty learning community facilitated by the P3 Collaboratory, and designed to share best practices and collaboratively problem solve;

  • Worked with our grant evaluators to study the impact of this initiative;

  • Engaged in a student-facilitated campus dialogue around the subject matter of the funded course;

  • Presented insights and challenges from the (re)design of their course to the university community in a group poster session highlighting publicly-engaged scholarship across Rutgers-Newark (April 25, 2019).

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Meet the Awardees


Jennifer Caroccio Maldonado

PhD, American Studies 

Course: Intro to Latina/o Cultural Studies 

My course redesign of “Introduction to Latinx Cultural Studies” had students explore complicated issues of race and ethnicity through discussion and writing. Students responded positively to both the traditional texts I assigned, as well as the documentaries, podcasts and online videos. It was clear this course had a strong commitment to civic responsibility. Students learned about the obstacles Latinx communities faced in the struggle for cultural citizenship, which students then made connections to the Rutgers U-Newark community.

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Jyl Josephson

Professor, Political Science

Course: Urban Politics and Policy: Education and Social Justice

Coming soon.

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Lyra Monteiro

Assistant Professor, History & American Studies

Course: Intro to Public History

Coming soon.

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Melissa Valle

Assistant Professor, Sociology & Anthropology

Course: Race, Ethnicity, Space and Place: Exclusion, Confinement, and Transformation (RESPECT) 

Coming soon. 

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Christina Zambrano-Varghese

Assistant Teaching Professor, Psychology

Course: Experimental Methods for the Cognitive  and Behavioral Sciences

The Lumina Grant enabled me to redesign the lab portion of my Psychology Research Methods course, so that students truly became members of research teams and actively engaged in all steps of the research process.  Students were able to view themselves as researchers and overcome fears or stereotype threats related to the course and careers in psychology.  Furthermore, in the current climate, this redesign project enabled me to seamlessly transition my course to remote instruction and to teach in ways that continue to maintain student engagement despite physical distance. 

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