The Alumnae Award for Curriculum Development

The Alumnae of Northwestern University Award for Curriculum Development is intended to support faculty work over the summer to develop innovative course materials, new courses, or new modes of teaching, including online education that will benefit our undergraduate students.

The recipient of each Curriculum Development Award will have the opportunity to address a meeting of the Board of Directors of The Alumnae of Northwestern University. In addition, Provost Linzer will recognize recipients of the Curriculum Awards at the annual luncheon he hosts for all current recipients of awards established by the Alumnae of Northwestern University.


Congratulations to the 2014 winners of the Alumnae of Northwestern University Award for Curriculum Development!

GerberElizabeth Gerber, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Junior Professor of Design, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science for her proposal, “A Crowdsourcing Curriculum to Enhance Entrepreneurship Education.”

Her highly innovative curriculum is designed to teach the next generation of entrepreneurs how to effectively leverage crowdfunding, a relatively new and nontraditional way of obtaining capital.  The process has made it possible for novice entrepreneurs with limited access to traditional financial backing from banks or venture capitalists to launch new ventures on their own.

“The ability to communicate a new service or product in an online pitch video is vital for successful crowdfunding,” Gerber said in her proposal. “Our curriculum will teach the design and production of pitch videos for crowdfunding campaigns by providing seven online mini-lectures and activities.”

Gerber believes that the self-directed curriculum will be extremely useful to engineering and business students who are attracted to entrepreneurship education, but often find taking such classes difficult because of their already intensive core curricula.

PiperAnne Marie Piper, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, School of Communication, for her proposal, “Assistive Communication Design: Experiential Learning with Local Community Impact.”

Her project-based and community-focused course will combine experiential learning with local community impact as students learn to develop technologies that will help those with disabilities more fully take advantage of modern communications such as social media and the Internet, important parts of human interaction many of us take for granted.

“The learning experience comes together through a quarter-long communication design project that matches teams of students with local organizations serving people with disabilities,” Piper said. “I envision students working on projects that increase access to online health information, provide remote therapy for people in rural areas or who are unable to leave their homes, and design new games for children with speech or language delays.”

Funds from the award will help Piper bring in leading experts in vision loss, aging and developmental disabilities to work with students and give them feedback on their projects.

To learn more about these thoughtful and innovative projects, please visit


  • Each year up to two awards will be made for proposals designed to enhance the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Faculty eligible for the award include all tenure line faculty and non-tenure line faculty who are expected to be teaching at Northwestern for at least the next two years (to allow for some impact of the new curricular contribution). Non-tenure line faculty should provide a letter from the dean indicating an expectation of a renewed appointment, if necessary.
  • Each award will provide total support in the amount of $12,500.  This includes a faculty stipend of $5,000 and an award to the faculty member’s department of $500. The remaining funds can be applied as needed to support a student assistant, acquire course materials and software, and pay for benefits.
  • The award is not intended to fund regular instructional or administrative salaries, standard faculty leaves, faculty research, except as it relates to undergraduate teaching responsibilities, plant construction, renovation or maintenance.


1) Application letter consisting of (no more than two pages in length):

  • A written description of the nature of the proposed curricular innovation, its relationship to the existing curriculum, and the level and format of the course or courses incorporating the innovation.  (For example, large introductory class, advanced lecture, or small seminar.)
  • If applicable, a description of any prior funding this project has received.  Include an explanation of what was accomplished with said prior funding.

2) Attach the following, as applicable:

  • A statement from the Dean and the Program Director or Department Chair, indicating a willingness to provide teaching support if the project is funded.
  • If a non-tenure line faculty member, a letter from the Dean indicating expectation of a renewed appointment, if necessary.
Submissions for awards for the summer of 2014 are now closed.  An announcement and call for submissions for the 2015 awards will be announced soon.  Please check back for more updates.  Any questions about this process should be directed to Celina Flowers in the Office of the Provost.