course grant

Paulson Initiative Course Grant program 2022-23

Call for Proposals AY 2022-23


Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, priority funding for Fall 2022 will be for applications submitted before June 30 and priority funding for Spring 2023 will be for applications submitted before December 15.

Please contact with any ideas or questions you would like to discuss.

Please submit your application through this form


The Paulson Initiative invites faculty and instructional staff across all disciplines to apply for funding to support teaching and learning innovations that engage the Wellesley College landscape as a living “laboratory” (or classroom or studio). Faculty and instructional staff may propose the revision or modification of an existing course (e.g. adding new course modules or assignments, or new approaches to current assignments) or development of a new course. We are particularly interested in proposals that connect to Wellesley’s strategic priorities of inclusive excellence, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experiential learning.  We also welcome proposals that address climate impacts and resilience, colonization/decolonization of the landscape, or sense of belonging on Wellesley’s campus landscape. Joint applications are welcome.

Past recipients include faculty and instructional staff from Anthropology, Art, Classical Studies, English, Philosophy, Biology, Engineering, Peace and Justice Studies, Environmental Studies, Geosciences, and Writing. We welcome innovative ideas across disciplines that engage students in their 4-year home landscape and provide opportunities for experiential learning. Some examples of past course modifications are at the end of the CFP.

Program Goals

  • Advance teaching and learning innovations that integrate the landscape into courses across disciplines.
  • Provide students the opportunity to engage more intentionally with the Wellesley landscape, to build a sense of place and belonging and to learn concepts and skills in an experiential and tangible form.
  • Build interdisciplinary cross-departmental conversations and community, sharing opportunities, approaches, and lessons learned.

Faculty Grant Recipients Requirements

  • Administer a short student assessment provided by the Paulson Initiative and modified according to the  individual courses in consultation with the faculty grant recipients. 
  • Write a short reflection (~100-200 words) on how the revision to your course impacted your teaching and student learning, and sense of belonging at Wellesley
  • Provide electronic copies of your landscape-based activities, modules, or assignments, and their syllabus. 
  • Provide other forms of assessment related to the grant (e.g. student reflections, photos in the landscape, course assessments, assignment excerpts).
  • Share course revisions and outcomes with the Wellesley community.


The Paulson Initiative will provide selected proposals up to $1200 in supplemental course funds to support course revision and implementation (for example student assistants, equipment, supplies, or other expenses directly related to development and implementation of the course). Student course assistant positions must prioritize work-study eligible students. Faculty will receive a small stipend to support course revision. If you have received a grant for your course in the past, you can apply for this Paulson Initiative Course Continuation Grant for supplemental course funds (e.g. course assistant, supplies, etc). 



If you are interested in applying for this grant program, please submit your application through this form.

Your application should include the following:

  1. Provide the number and name of the course you are proposing for this grant.
  2. Briefly describe the pedagogical/learning goals of the course.
  3. Briefly describe the activities, assignments or other learning innovations that integrate the landscape and sense of place, and if applicable, how they advance inclusive excellence, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experiential learning.
  4. Briefly describe the assessment plan to determine the impact of the course or course revisions on student learning, and other relevant outcomes (e.g. sense of belonging, inclusive excellence, etc).
  5. Provide a specific budget for expenses (can include for example student assistant hours, equipment, materials, or other expenses directly related to development and implementation of this course). Up to $1200 will be considered, depending on the proposed course development/revisions. Proposals that integrate student assistants are highly encouraged, as well as equipment that could be used, shared, or scaled to impact students beyond this one course.

Each proposal will be considered based on the extent of integration of the landscape/place into the course and how this will enhance learning goals and an inclusive learning environment. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, priority funding for Fall 2022 will be for applications submitted before June 30 and priority funding for Spring 2023 will be for applications submitted before December 15. Please contact with any ideas or questions you would like to discuss.

The Paulson Initiative can support your course by offering assistance with ideas for landscape/nature activities, providing guest activities, brainstorming approaches to using the landscape in your course discipline(s), providing campus landscape data or information (we have wildlife camera videos, and other data from campus!), or connecting to campus projects.  If your course revision involves changing or manipulating the Wellesley landscape, you must discuss with Grounds and Botanic Gardens before the grant is approved. The Paulson Initiative can facilitate this conversation with the campus land managers.

Please email Suzanne Langridge ( with any questions regarding this grant.

Example Paulson Initiative funded courses from on-campus grants in previous years:

HIST 299: Jay Turner, faculty in Environmental Studies, challenged students to develop skills in reading the landscape from a historical perspective and to engage with primary sources found in the College archives. The students took a campus tour through the lens of environmental landscape history and then visited the Wellesley College Archives to examine primary documents relating to specific episodes in the college’s environmental history, such as the botanic gardens, the war gardens, and Paintshop Pond remediation. Students synthesized their experiences by writing a paper, returning back to the archives and a particular place on campus. By focusing on how to re-read Wellesley’s landscape, students developed their ability to read environmental history into other specific places in the future.

BISC 307: Jackie Hatala Matthes, faculty in Biology and Environmental Studies, taught Ecosystem Ecology in the Fall of 2018, using the Wellesley landscape to provide opportunities for expanding student-led inquiry into topics such as nutrient cycling, water balance, and animal habitat use. Students went on “field trips” to Paintshop Pond wetlands and Lake Waban for hands-on investigations of these ecosystems. Dr. Matthes also used the landscape to connect the scientific inquiry to the services provided to people by this on-campus wetland. 

ARTS 260: In his course Moving Image Studio, David Olsen, faculty in Studio Art, asked students to experiment with projection in the landscape, which forces students to employ experimental tactics to engage with the environment and deal with obstacles not present in traditional ways new media is typically presented. The environment has many different obstacles that interior spaces do not, and these issues become the focus of the project. His living laboratory assignments provided an opportunity for students to learn how the environment will inform their work just as much as the work will inform the environment.

PHIL 234: Erich Matthes, Professor of Philosophy, used the Wellesley landscape to explore a range of ethical and aesthetic questions about places, whether of natural or cultural significance, in his Spring 2019 course From Wilderness to Ruins. Students used restored landscapes on campus like Paintshop Pond and Alumnae Valley as test cases for assessing environmental restoration projects. They also explored the concept of “critical placemaking,” or disrupting dominant systems of inequality and injustice through interventions that create inclusive and participatory public places. In class discussions, students identified and proposed interventions to specific places on campus for actions of critical placemaking. Focusing on the case of Wellesley’s Botanic Gardens, the class also assessed the theory of scientific cognitivism, which asserts that appreciation of the environment requires scientific knowledge of it. Student feedback demonstrated how these key activities in the Wellesley landscape contributed positively to their learning and understanding of course content.