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The Alumnae Award for Curriculum Innovation

The Alumnae of Northwestern University Awards for Curriculum Innovation support faculty innovations that will enhance the undergraduate curriculum such as new courses, new course materials or components for existing courses, and/or new approaches to instruction. 

Each Curriculum Innovation Award recipient will have the opportunity to address a meeting of the Board of Directors of The Alumnae of Northwestern University and to present the outcomes of their project at the annual TEACHx forum. In addition, Provost Holloway will recognize recipients of the Curriculum Awards at the annual luncheon for recipients of awards established by the Alumnae of Northwestern University.

Read more about the most recent recipients of the Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Award for Curriculum Innovation in the University announcement. Learn more about the award and the application procedures.

Please direct questions to curriculumaward@northwestern.edu and a member of our staff will respond promptly. Faculty whose proposals are selected for funding will be notified in late December.

Congratulations to the 2020 Recipients

Jennifer Lackey

Jennifer Lackey

Professor of Philosophy, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

“Inspiring students to examine the crisis of mass incarceration in the U.S. through a philosophical lens”

Lackey will design a course that brings together Northwestern undergraduates and incarcerated students enrolled in the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP) to study the philosophy of punishment and incarceration.

The course will enable students to examine, through a philosophical lens, the causes and consequences of the incarceration crisis in the United States, which is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. Students will investigate the racial and socioeconomic roots of the punitive approach the U.S. has taken to criminal justice, imposing lengthy prison sentences and harsh conditions of confinement, and providing very few educational, vocational or recreational programs. Evanston-based students will travel weekly to Stateville Correctional Center to attend class with NPEP students. Together the students will study and analyze competing theories of punishment, explore connections among incarceration, race, and poverty, and collaborate to develop theoretical and practical approaches to these issues. Because the course will explore issues that NPEP students face every day, they will be able to provide a valuable firsthand perspective and contribute to a meaningful learning experience for their Evanston-based classmates.

Lackey is the founder and director of NPEP, the only degree-granting program in the state to provide a liberal arts curriculum to incarcerated students. NPEP is a collaboration between Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies and Oakton Community College.
Sepehr Vakil

Sepehr Vakil

Assistant Professor, School of Education and Social Policy

“Encouraging students to critically engage with contemporary ethical challenges in computing”

Vakil and Van Wart will develop an ethics course for undergraduate Computer Science majors. This course will provide students with the opportunity to consider the social implications of computing technologies, and the far-reaching, unintended consequences these systems might have.

The goal of this course will be to provoke and inspire students to critically engage with contemporary ethical challenges in computing. Students will analyze case studies of current and enduring socio-technical dilemmas such as bias in algorithms, surveillance technologies, applications of facial recognition technologies, privacy breaches, etc. In addition, students will use real-world datasets to examine various social values within algorithms, computational techniques, and design decisions. Through these experiences, students will learn to recognize the ethics built into the various technologies they use and understand the responsibility of software engineers to act in the interest of all those affected by their products. 

Vakil’s research examines the intersections of learning, identity, race, power, and ethics in secondary and post-secondary engineering and computer science contexts.
Sarah Van Wart

Sarah Van Wart

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, McCormick School of Engineering

“Encouraging students to critically engage with contemporary ethical challenges in computing”

 
Vakil and Van Wart will develop an ethics course for undergraduate Computer Science majors. This course will provide students with the opportunity to consider the social implications of computing technologies, and the far-reaching, unintended consequences these systems might have.

The goal of this course will be to provoke and inspire students to critically engage with contemporary ethical challenges in computing. Students will analyze case studies of current and enduring socio-technical dilemmas such as bias in algorithms, surveillance technologies, applications of facial recognition technologies, privacy breaches, etc. In addition, students will use real-world datasets to examine various social values within algorithms, computational techniques, and design decisions. Through these experiences, students will learn to recognize the ethics built into the various technologies they use and understand the responsibility of software engineers to act in the interest of all those affected by their products. 

Van Wart has experience working as a software developer and designer, with a focus on collaborative urban and regional planning systems research. Her research explores approaches to broadening participation in computing that involve creative production and working with real-world data sets.