Past IE Mini-Grant Recipients

Fostering Indigenous Spaces at American University: Curriculum, Community, and Commitment, AY22─23 Emily Bass, CAS/BA ’23, SPA/BA ’23; Buck Woodard, CAS Professor; Elizabeth Rule, CAS Professor; Nuria Villanova, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and CAS Professor; and Bruce San Agustin Leal, WCL/JD ’23 

Students, faculty, staff, and administrators gathered for a half-day of discussions, inquiry, and action planning on indigeneity and education at AU around three themes: curriculum development and pedagogy; campus culture and resources; and commitment to a historical reckoning. The summit aimed to open a meaningful dialogue and build relationships, inquire about AU and WCL’s commitment to the recruitment and inclusion of Native students and faculty, and explore AU and WCL’s institutional history of engagement with Native peoples, including the Washington Internships for Native Students program. The summit closed with brainstorming on possible action steps and commitments. 

Thank You from the StudentsGracias de los Estudiantes, Spring 2023 Shannon Telenko, DEI Consultant, Office of Human Resources, and Jadyn Newman, SOC/BA ’23. SPA/BA '23 

By writing thank you notes in English and Spanish and offering cookies, students and members of AU faculty and staff affinity groups aimed to help service workers they most interact with feel appreciated and valued for not only the work they are paid to do but for the care they have shown the students. 

Indigenous Health: A Roundtable Discussion, AY21─22 Tanja Aho, CAS Professor; Elizabeth Rule, CAS Professor (Chickasaw Nation); Josie Raphaelito (Diné/Navajo Nation); Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee); Candi Brings Plenty (Oglala Sioux)

Tanja Aho moderated this conversation about Indigenous health that focused on the  panelists’ work on Indigenous cancer research; Two Spirit and Native LGBTQIA+ advocacy and community work; resistance to colonial theft, exploitation, and gender violence; and reteaching Indigenous foodway. 

BIPOC Guiding Council for AU Connects, AY19─20 Rebecca Coughlin, Director for Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, School of International Service (SIS), and Giselle Kuri Carrasco, SIS/MA ’22, AU Connects Program Assistant

AU Connects creates dialogues so that students and staff can develop antiracist behaviors and perspectives. The BIPOC Guiding Council ensures that the programs that AU Connects develops are the best possible avenues to get there. This initiative provides a leadership space for BIPOC facilitators to advise, revise, and advance new ideas for AU Connects. The council is an intentional effort to operate with a lens of inclusion and equity-mindedness, guarding against a replication of white supremacy culture that can easily permeate predominantly White institutions. The council provides an important balance to the current white leadership of AU Connects. 

AU Si Se Puede! Symposium

Maria Gramajo and Guadalupe Mabry

The AU Si Se Puede Symposium will showcase academic research and projects led by Latinx/a/os being completed at American University:

  • fostering a campus-wide conversation within the at-large Latinx/a/o community including AU students, staff, faculty, and alumni; 
  • providing a networking bridge between Latinx/a/o students, Latinx/a/o alumni and DMV professionals in academia and other work sectors; 
  • and advancing inclusivity, excellence, and equity within AU's Latinx/a/o community with connectivity, visibility, guidance, and potentially mentorships.

Addressing Islamophobia in Media

SOC Diversity Committee - Sumaira Akber, Priya Doshi, Bill Gentile, Jeremiah Patterson, Kristi Plahn-Gjersvold, Gemma Puglisi, Saif Shahin, Danari White, Brianna Williams, Russell Williams, and Sherri Williams

The project will work to address and analyze Islamophobic representations in media and teach those in event attendance the impact of such representations and how to avoid recycling them.

Antiracist Praxis for College Writing and Information Literacy

Amanda Click and Sarah Trembath

A committee of eight librarians and five writing studies professors, who are dedicated to both information literacy and antiracist praxis, are currently gathering, reading, and annotating scholarship in these areas: antiracist composition pedagogy, antiracist creative writing praxis, multicultural and cross cultural literature pedagogy, and critical information literacy.  

This project’s goal is to help all Library, Department of Literature, and Writing Center faculty and staff become fluent in the basic vocabulary of antiracist scholarship; to open up constructive dialogue about best practices; and to set the groundwork for truly informed faculty and staff antiracist standards and goal-setting.

This effort aims to mine the expertise of people already doing antiracist work, inspire others to begin antiracist work, increase the general competency of faculty in this area, and build bridges between entities that are passionate about these issues but currently functioning independently in their antiracist work.   

AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship Program

Jackie Garcia in collaboration with the Latino & Hispanic Faculty and Staff Affinity Group

The goals of this mentorship program are as follows: 

  • build a supportive bridge between Latino & Hispanic undergraduate students and Latino & Hispanic staff and faculty;
  • foster inclusivity, excellence, and equity within the Latino & Hispanic student, staff, and faculty community through connectivity, visibility, guidance, and mentorship; and
  • support the personal and professional growth of mentees and mentors, through in-person, head and heart dialogue.  

Breaking Bread in Science

Kathryn Walters-Conte

“Aspects of identity such as race, ethnicity, gender, income, and first-generation status are particularly important factors in retention and success in college and in STEM fields” (National Academies).  Our goal is to build a STEM community at AU, by allowing students to share lunches with mentors in the STEM fields with whom they may identify (LGBTQ, URM, First-Gen, etc.).

*This project supported by the Office of Finance & Treasurer.

Discovering Indigenous DC: Guide to Indigenous DC Field Trip Support

Maddox Pennington and Elizabeth Rule in collaboration with Tanja Aho

This project fosters the goal of curriculum and instruction by supporting students in venturing out of the classroom and into the community to build their knowledge of American Indian activism and presence in Washington, DC. Students will select at least three of the stops on the Guide to Indigenous DC walking tour to complete, conduct some contextualizing research, and write a reflection on the experience.

This effort augments the core curriculum WRTG-101 course taught by Maddox Pennington; Elizabeth Rule's American Indian Law and Legacies course; and Tanja Aho's American Dreams, American Lives.

Earth Day 2020: Elevating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Sustainability Movement

Tacy Lambiase in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science

Environmental Justice, also sometimes called climate justice or environmental racism is: The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This project will host a panel discussion and networking reception focused on environmental justice to bring together students, faculty, and staff in AU's sustainability community to discuss how our programs and goals can better align with an environmental justice framework.  

Games for Diversity

Saif Shahin

The purpose of the project is to use video games to enhance inclusion and diversity on campus. The project is divided into two stages. In the first stage, Games for Diversity Trials, a small group of AU students will be invited to play a series of video games that are meant to encourage inclusion and diversity. Then, in a Games for Diversity Symposium, these students will share their experience of playing these games with the broader AU community alongside one or two invited game developers and game studies scholars.  The discussion will focus on the impact playing these games had on students' understanding of inclusion and diversity, and aspects of the games that worked particularly well and those that did not, so that games that are meant to foster inclusion and diversity may themselves be further improved.

Identity and Culture in Context: Celebrating and Understanding Identities Abroad

Emma Bozek-Jarvis and Matthew Stifter

The goal is to make sure that the inclusive excellence and equity on campus extends to the AU Centers abroad—Madrid, Brussels, and Nairobi.  AU Abroad will lead a Culture and Identity Pre-Departure Orientation Training for students attending these centers. This training will help students: 

  • interrogate their intersectionality and identity matrices as they relate to a cross-cultural context;  
  • better acclimate and claim their experiences abroad and, therefore,
  • generate positive outcomes as it relates to socio-cultural-psychological development.

Inclusive Excellence in Lawyering: Understanding Positionality and Privilege 

Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law in collaboration with the WCL Student Advisory Board

This project seeks to create an intentional and thoughtful space in which law students can critically think and discuss topics related to lawyering positionality and privilege that is supplemental to their current clinical and legal education.  By creating this space, students will be equipped to think critically and inspire change as they enter the complex world of human rights.  
*This project also supported by a WCL matching grant.

Pride Partners: LGBTQ+ Mentoring

Stephanie Bortruex and Richard Duncan in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group

Pride Partners is a program facilitated by the LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, with support from the Center for Diversity & Inclusion and AU Pride, to support the mentorship of LGBTQ+ students.  LGBTQ+ students interested in the program are matched with a Pride Partner who is either a faculty or staff member at AU that has also indicated interest in developing a mentorship-type relationship.  Students are able to connect with this individual on a whole range of topics including personal identity development, intersectionality of identities, campus climate, current issues, etc.

Promoting Inclusivity through Data Governance Management

Robin Beads, Chair, along with the entire AU Business Intelligence Data Stewards Committee (BIDSC)

What does data governance look like in an environment striving for policies and practices that promote inclusivity?  AU has a wealth of data available to many data users but we lack shared standards, transparency and best-practices related to data management leaving us vulnerable to bias and exclusivity in our actions, even if we are unaware of such risks. 

Data is the byproduct of our operations, but to make best use of it we need to change our thinking to be more proactive and start treating it as an institutional asset and this change can be accomplished through data governance. AU's Business Intelligence Data Stewards Committee (BIDSC), at the behest of AU's Business Intelligence Steering Committee, is in the early stages of a data governance initiative at AU. To help further campus understanding of data governance we propose a half-day data management intensive discussion with a leader in the field of data and process management in higher education. 

SIS Breaking Bread: Building Community and a Sense of Belonging Between SIS Faculty and Staff

SIS Staff Council - Garric Buzzard, Amy Marrion, Jessica MacArthur, and Rachel Sawyer

University units have the ability to thrive when different constituent groups—faculty, staff, and administrators—have a deep understanding of and respect for the work of colleagues across groups different from their own…all of whom carry out vital roles for ensuring that the community thrives and the climate is as diverse, inclusive, and equitable as possible. 

By bringing SIS faculty and staff together to share meaningful dialogue over a meal, this program will create a space to nurture new relationships and strengthen existing relationships between faculty and staff across roles, with the ultimate goal of building community within the school. 

*This project also supported by an SIS matching grant.

Speakers Panel for Navigating Challenges of Diversity in Public Affairs Careers

Bradley Hardy and Jocelyn Johnston in collaboration with the Department of Public Administration & Policy Diversity & Inclusion Committee: Christopher Burks, Jourdan Davis, Anita Dhillon, Aeric Koerner, and Rui Wang

This career-building and knowledge-sharing event aims to: 

  • promote a climate of inclusion among students; 
  • highlight diverse experiences in public service careers; 
  • build informal networks between students and employees;
  • increase visibility of possible career paths; 
  • prepare current students for life beyond school; and 
  • grown this session into a sustainable speaker series in the future

*This project also supported by an SPA grant.

TRANSforming Our Narratives: An AU PhotoVoice Collection

Roman Habibzai

This project aims to create an online PhotoVoice collection of trans and non-binary student, staff, and faculty experiences. PhotoVoice is a powerful community-based participatory research method that documents creator's lives from their own perspectives. 

This is a collaboration between the student LGBTQ online publication, Visible, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.  The TRANSforming Our Narrative team aims to advance the Inclusive Excellence Plan Goal #2 by encouraging a sense of belonging amongst trans and non-binary community members, and developing campus climate by educating the AU community about what life is like from the first-person perspective of trans and non-binary folks on campus.  

Travel Supplements for Science Internships

Kathryn Walters-Conte

As the sciences grow at the University, a consistent barrier to student success is accessing internships in the sciences. The locations of these internships (while local) are often in areas inaccessible by the metro system, for example the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD or the Biotechnology companies in Gaithersburg, MD.  This affects students’ ability to pursue these opportunities and thus reduces their future competitiveness in the workforce or graduate school.  This project’s goal is to offer increased transportation options to remote locations, and remove barriers felt in particular by students of limited financial means.

*This project also supported by a CAS matching grant.

Hosting a State of STEM at AU: Summit in the Spring of 2019

Meg Bentley

Project affiliate: Underrepresented Students in STEM (USS) and the Initiative on STEM Education, Equity and Ethics

The primary goal of this mini-grant is to be able to fund a State of STEM at AU Summit for current STEM students, all STEM faculty, and STEM alumni who work in the DMV area. STEM is a growing set of disciplines right now at AU. With the launch of the Don Meyers Technology Building in 2016 and the new Hall of Science building opening in Fall of 2020, it is an exciting time to be a STEM student at AU and a good time for students and faculty to take stock of the current state of STEM at AU and to establish short- and long term goals about Inclusive Excellence in STEM. The Summit will be a 3-hour long event, held the week after Spring Break in the spring 2019 academic semester.

AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship ProgramVince Chapa and Jackie Garcia

Project affiliate: AU Latino & Hispanic Faculty & Staff Affinity Group

The AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship Program aims to:

  • build a supportive bridge between Latino & Hispanic students and Latino & Hispanic staff and faculty;
  • foster inclusivity, excellence, and equity within the Latino & Hispanic student, staff, and faculty community through connectivity, visibility, guidance, and mentorship; and
  • support the personal and professional growth of mentees and mentors, through in-person, head and heart dialogue.

The AU Trans Experience: Then and NowPerry Zurn, with Leslie Nellis, Matt Ferguson, Stephen Masson, Hana Hentzen, and Scout Pruski

Project affiliates: Department of Philosophy and Religion: Perry Zurn (Assistant Professor) Matt Ferguson (MA Student) Stephen Masson (MA Student) American University Library Archives and Special Collections: Leslie Nellis (Associate Archivist)

The AU Trans Experience: Then and Now project aims to explore and celebrate transgender experience at American University over the past several decades. The project will have four primary components: 1) archival work, 2) interviews with current and former transgender students, 3) a curation of transgender research happening at AU, and 4) a multimedia, interactive display on the first floor of the Library. The ultimate goals are to enhance a sense of belonging and history for the transgender community at AU, to raise awareness about transgender experience within the broader AU community, to appreciate current transgender research being conducted at AU, and to provide a rich springboard from which to imagine the future of trans life at AU.

Disability, Access, and Teaching: A One-Day SymposiumTanja Aho and Perry Zurn

Project affiliates: Critical Race, Gender & Culture Studies Collaborative (CRGC): Tanja Aho (Visiting Assistant Professor); Department of Philosophy & Religion: Perry Zurn (Assistant Professor); Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP): Derrick Cogburn (Professor, School of International Service) & Filippo Trevisan (Assistant Professor, School of Communications); Academic Support and Access Center (ASAC): Lindsay Northup-Moore (Director of Disability Support); Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL): Kiho Kim (Executive Director); Center for Diversity & Inclusion (CDI): Shannon Smith (Assistant Director, Student Success and Transition)

With this one-day Disability, Access, and Teaching symposium, we aim to bring together our campus and local communities to better understand and foster accessible, inclusive learning environments. While a number of faculty members at American University focus their research on disability, and student and faculty resource centers engage with questions of disability, it is rare for students, staff, faculty, and administrators to come together for a sustained conversation about accessible pedagogy and disability theory. We aim to facilitate precisely that conversation.

This symposium will offer plenary sessions, workshops, and presentation slots, as well as other interactive formats in which we can together discuss how we want to realize truly accessible classrooms and foster disability studies as a field at American University. Primary goals include showcasing the disability studies work being done at American University, fostering a campus conversation about disability and access, and providing networking opportunities for all AU campus members who work on or with questions of disability and access.

American University Spring Self-Care CirclesYoo-Jin Kang, Shatina Williams, Jacquelin Darby

Project affiliate: Health Promotion and Advocacy Center, Counseling Center

Recognizing that traditional psychotherapy is not always culturally congruent for all students, one of our main goals is to provide a space for self-reflection, insight development, and developing coping and self-care strategies are warranted for students who may be at the margins of benefitting from traditional interventions and services offered by the university.

The Spring Self-Care Circles will provide students with a wide variety of self-care and self-coping modalities including mind-body techniques, art therapy, and group sharing/ team building.

Multicultural Leadership Institute: Activate, Develop, DeployCalvin Haney

Project affiliate: Office of Campus Life, Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Student Activities

The goal of this project is to provide a cohort of 30-50 students with an opportunity to spend a weekend building their ability, capacity, and competency to become student leaders of Inclusive Excellence.

The Multicultural Leadership Institute will activate new levels of cross community/cultural collaboration, develop student leaders who understand the power of Inclusive Excellence as a mission and call to action, and deploy their talents to the work of driving co-curricular involvement in programming and advocacy programs that further the reach and impact of Inclusive Excellence to improve campus climate.

I'm White, Now What?: Using Privilege to Disrupt SystemsAJ Springer and Paul Norton

Project affiliate: University Communications and Marketing

Inclusive excellence cannot be achieved without significant buy-in and advocacy from white faculty, staff and students. I'm White, Now What? seeks to bring together and organize AU's largest demographic to complement the changes in curriculum currently taking place at the university. This project will bring Aja Taylor and Nicole Newman of the Two Brown Girls Consulting Cooperative back to campus to facilitate a thought-provoking one-day training session.

This project was also funded during the spring 2018 mini-grant pilot.

Inclusion Challenges - An American Muslim ExperienceHosein Nahidian and Sharjil Hasan

Project affiliate: Office of Information Technology

Through a series of engagements open to the AU community, this project will create space to share inclusion challenges faced by American Muslims in a post 9-11 America. We will discuss issues stemming from Islamophobia and misinformation about Islam and Muslims in mainstream America and how bias, alternative facts, and propaganda impacts everyone.

The 1st annual NAACP Image AwardsAU NAACP

Project affiliates: The Black Alumni Alliance, all black undergrad orgs, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion

The primary goal of this project is provide an opportunity to award and celebrate outstanding Black students, alumni, and faculty. However, we will open the awards to all POC and allies as we realize the positive work our partners do also impacts our Black student experience and thus should also be celebrated.

Modeled after the National NAACP Image Awards, we will have categories such as "AU Legacy Award", "AU Rising Star Freshman", "AU Alumni Impact Award", and even awards for outstanding housing and dining staff. Additionally, we will have collaborative awards to highlight the important work we do as a community, such as, "Most ground breaking Social Justice collective", "Most Inclusive Programming for a student organization", and "Most Intersectional Student Group."

Continuing the Legacy; MLK Day of Service ReceptionJose Cadiz

Project affiliate: Center for Community Engagement & Service

The MLK Day of Service is a 25+ year tradition at American University.

Following the 2017 MLK Day of Service, AU hosted a week of events to honor the legacy of the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging the university community with opportunities of volunteerism, lectures, panel discussions, performing arts, music, and continued engagement in Washington, DC communities.

This mini-grant will help fund a reception that honors two current students (undergraduate and graduate) and an alumni for their commitment to service and social justice.

Encouraging Inter-Religious Dialogue among all Faith GroupsAlexander G. Zestos

Project affiliate: Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, Orthodox Christian Fellowship

Only by firsthand learning about different religions can we be truly tolerant and accepting of different faith-based groups. Through a series of events, this project aims to foster and encourage inter-faith dialogue among all of the faith-run student groups at American University including Christian Groups (Orthodox Christian fellowship, Non-denominational, Latter-Day Saints, Catholics, Episcopalian/Anglican, Lutheran, Christian Science, Assemblies of God (Chi Alpha), CRU, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and others), Jewish (Orthodox and Reformed), Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic (Shiite and Sunni), Humanist, Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Bahai, Sikh Agnostics, Atheists, and other groups as well.

I'm White, Now What?: A Guide to Disrupting the System When Coalitions Stop Being Polite and Start Getting Real

Project Affiliate: University Communications and Marketing

I'm White, Now What? seeks to bring together and organize AU's largest demographic to complement the changes in curriculum currently taking place at the university. We have identified two facilitators who are available and willing to conduct thought-provoking one-day training sessions: Aja Taylor, director of advocacy, Bread for the City; and Nora Rasman, a facilitator who is also skilled in this area. I'm White, Now What? is a project inspired by Jane Elliott, a recognized pioneer in the field of infusing values of diversity and inclusion for white audiences.

Spring Cultural Festival

Project Affiliate: International Student and Scholar Services, AU Student Government, Latinx and American Student Organization, Muslim Student Association, African Students Organization, Caribbean Circle, League of United Latin American Citizens, International Student Association, and International Accelerator

The Spring Cultural festival is the first event affiliated with the #IamTheOther campaign, which will bring together communities across campus for an afternoon of cultural exchange through the enjoyment of foods from around the world and cultural performances throughout the day.

Our AU Story: A Friendship Born in an Unlikely Place

Project Affiliate: AU Alumni Association

Our similarities are what brought us together, but our differences have inspired growth, appreciation, and understanding. By telling our AU story we seek to inspire current AU students of all races to step outside their comfort zones and to actively pursue conversations and friendships with students from different backgrounds. Our Ted-style talk will be a 15-minute presentation communicating our distinct differences (races, cultures, socioeconomic and political backgrounds) followed by our similarities (morals, values, and personal interest), emphasizing to AU students the importance of making the most of their college campus experience.

Courageous Conversations/Ties That Bind

Project Affiliate: Washington College of Law

The Ties That Bind project is focused on building the knowledge of shared experiences and perspectives to foster connectivity and community dialogue and engagement. Participants will come together for a WCL working session that will distinguish our differences while aligning our commonalities. The Courageous Conversations project will be a guided conversation which touch on sometimes difficult discussion topics. (These were two separate mini-grant submissions. The awarded grant is for one project; WCL will select which they wish to proceed with.)

Community Graduations: Third Annual Black Graduation and Second Annual Latinx Graduation

Project Affiliate: Office of Development and Alumni Relations and Office of Campus Life Student Organizations: AU NAACP, ASO, BSU, MSA, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, AUSG, LASO, AU LULAC, Lambda Phi Chi, Voto Latino, and ODELL

A pre-commencement celebration of students from underrepresented communities as they prepare to graduate from American University. Each of these receptions has been designed to represent African-American and Latinx culture and heritage. Keynote speakers Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Ana Polanco will share their lived experiences and inspire the students. The event will also comprise student speakers, student awards, and a showcase of their diverse talents. The events will culminate with a Kente/Serape Stole Ceremony.

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Applications are now being accepted on a rolling basis.