Paulson Faculty Course Grant

Faculty Opportunities

Paulson Initiative Course Grant

The Paulson Initiative invites you to propose a course innovation in teaching and learning that integrates the Wellesley College landscape as a living laboratory/classroom/studio into course assignments, activities, and/or modules in existing or newly developed courses for academic year 2022-23 (any term). This Paulson Initiative Faculty Course Grant program supports teaching innovations by faculty across all disciplines (past recipients include faculty from anthropology, art, philosophy, biology, environmental studies, and writing). Grants are accepted on a rolling basis.

To learn more about the current call for faculty course grant proposals for 2022-23, click here.

Past Paulson Course Grant Recipients 


Jay Turner: US Environmental History; ES/HIST 299

Jay led students on a campus tour and brought them to the College Archives to explore primary sources, helping students develop skills in reading the college landscape through the lens of environmental history. Students synthesized their experiences in an essay, returning back to the archives and a particular place on campus to inform their analysis. The course gave students the tools for reading environmental history at Wellesley and beyond.

Katherine Ruffin: Introduction to Book Studies; ARTS 112

Students processed and formed fiber from Common Reed (Phragmites australis), an invasive plant they harvested from meadows on campus. This exercise developed student awareness of plants on campus and the environmental impacts of papermaking, while focusing on process, project management, and hand-eye coordination. In tandem with Ruffin’s  course, around 25 members of the College community attended a paper-making workshop.

David Olsen: Moving Image Studio; ARTS 260

ARTS 260 prompted students to experiment with projection on the landscape. Students were provided opportunities to learn experimental tactics to engage with the campus landscape and address obstacles found outdoors that are not usually present in more typical, common ways that new media is generally presented. Students found that obstacles present in the outdoor landscape sometimes become the focus of the project—the environment informed their work just as much as the work informed the environment.

Amy Banzaert: Making a Difference Through Engineering; ENGR 120

Students applied key engineering design skills to making several products for more efficient and sustainable sumac (Rhus typhina) processing. Sumac grows on campus and produces fruits, which through a time-consuming process can be processed into spice and tea. Student projects produced tools for processing large quantities of spice quickly, and engineered a procedure for making exfoliating soap with the seed waste byproduct. This assignment forced students to use engineering solutions to address technical challenges facing communities.

Dan Chiasson: The World of Emily Dickenson; ENG 357

Wellesley’s campus landscape is perfectly situated to study Dickinson's nature, from robins to beeches to the “slant” of winter light as it enters a room, and to think about her as a poet of the natural landscape. Students used this lens to analyze and study Dickinson’s work and life.This course incorporated several field visits—including to Amherst and the Dickinson homestead and the shores of Lake Waban and surrounding fields.

Alden Griffith: Introduction to Environmental Science and Systems; ES 100

Students used the Wellesley Landscape as a living laboratory, investigating ecosystems and environmental processes on campus. They analyzed the concentration of metal pollutants in Lake Waban’s plankton, collected soil samples across campus to measure soil calcium, pH, and cation exchange, and sampled the size and frequency of tree species in plots on Water Tower Hill.

Jackie Matthes: Ecosystem Ecology BISC/ES; 307

This course used the Wellesley landscape to foster student-led inquiry into topics such as nutrient cycling, water balance, and animal habitat use. Students took “field trips” to Paintshop Pond wetlands and Lake Waban for hands-on investigations of these ecosystems. Matthes also used the landscape to connect the course’s scientific inquiries to the services provided to people by Wellesley’s on-campus wetlands.

Elizabeth Minor: Living in Material Worlds; ANTH 227

Students used the results from Minor’s summer 2018 Tower Court excavation project to explore how people use material culture (objects, architecture) to build relationships with their environments and each other. Students took historical and contemporary objects related to Wellesley and juxtaposed them in an exhibit, with the goal of curating narratives about student community and identities. The exhibits incorporated images and plans of the Wellesley landscape in 1914 before the College Hall fire and as it is today.

Bryan Burns: Introduction to Archaeology; ANTH 103

ANTH 103 engaged students with the history of land use at Wellesley with a 5-class unit on landscape archaeology. The course included field-walking exercise through Alumnae Valley, a drone exhibition on Severance Green to learn how aerial imagery is used to model landscapes, and a presentation by Elizabeth Minor on Severance Green Excavation project. Students performed a surface survey of three sites at Wellesley, collecting ans recording pre-distributed biodegradable tokens that simulated the variety of ceramics from different eras of campus activity.


Erich Matthes: From Wilderness to Ruins; PHIL/ES 234

Students used the Wellesley landscape to explore a range of ehtical and aesthetic questions about places, whether of natural or cultural significance. Restored landscapes on campus like Paintshop Pond and Alumae Valley served as test cases for philosophical assessment of environmental restoration projects. Students explored concepts like critical placemaking and the theort of scientific cognitivism by studying and writing about specific places on campus.



Andy Mowbray: Three Dimensional Design; ARTS 113

Students built and installed birdhouses on camnpus usingwood repurposed from shipping pallets. Studetnsgained practical hand tools skills while gaiing a sense of place as they explored and shaped the campus landscape, developing a conceptual framework of nature and birds as designers.

Justin Armstrong: Magic of Everyday Life; WRIT 150

Students reflected on the cultural influence of place during several outings into the Wellesley Landscape. On a walk along Lake Waban's edge, students absorbed the magic of everyday life that rests quietly in place. They wrote reflection essays, compiled booklet titled On Noticing: Reflections on Landscape at Wellesley College from WRIT 160 - Spring 2018.


Katherine Ruffin: Introductory Print Methods; ARTS 222

This course incorporated the landscape through the ancient art of making paper from plants. Dr. Ruffin collected Common Reed (Phragmites australis), an invasive plant found in the campus meadows, in partnership with the Grounds crew and other College community members. Students successfully made paper out of Common Reed, exploring questions around resource use, sustainability, and linking art and landscape.


Andy Mowbray: Spatial Investigations; ARTS 216

Students designed and built a seating and gathering area in the landscape using wood from hickory trees that had fallen on campus. Facilities Management provided the class with the wood, and students scounted suitable locations on campus for the installation and research design possibilities. The course not only brought the concept of sustainability and reuse into design, but also challenged students to understand and interpret the campus landscape and built environment.


Paulson Initiative Faculty Research Seed Grant

The Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative Seed Grant Program invites proposals to support faculty research, scholarship, and creative vitality, and to foster new innovative projects and approaches using the Wellesley College campus as a “living laboratory”. We are building new interdisciplinary and collaborative partnerships across campus, fostering opportunities for external funding, developing opportunities for students to be involved in scholarly work and authentic research experiences, and cultivating long-term impact on the College community, landscapes, and watersheds. We encourage faculty from all departments to apply.

We are currently not accepting applications. Please see the past call for proposals here.