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Two Faculty Projects Receive Funding from the Associated Colleges of the South

  • News Image
    John Ore is developing a course that will focus on energy conservation strategies for the theater, particularly the replacement of incandescent lighting fixtures with systems that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
  • News Image
    Working on the LED lighting project in Heather Hall are (l-r) Southwestern electrician Shorty Scwartz, senior economics major Nathan Shaw-Meadows, first-year environmental studies major Kira McIntryre, theatre professor John Ore, senior physics major Santos Reyes and Eric Bernstein, owner of Intelligent Lighting Systems in Austin (Photo by Carlos Barron).

Funds will support collaborative projects in Chinese, Theatre and Environmental Studies

Two projects proposed by Southwestern faculty members have received funding from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).

The proposals were funded through the ACS Faculty Renewal Program, which was created in 2008 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Faculty members were invited to submit proposals for teaching, research or community service projects among ACS schools or within their own institution.

Carl Robertson, associate professor of Chinese, received $1,600 to work with Li Wei at Rollins College on a pilot project that will allow small colleges with limited faculty resources to offer advanced classes in Chinese and Chinese culture. The classes will be offered using Internet technologies such as desktop videoconferencing and will be modeled after the Sunoikisis online Classics program that Southwestern participates in. The Sunoikisis program was started in 1995 with funding from the Associated Colleges of the South.

“Most small liberal arts colleges and universities have limited resources in specialized fields of Chinese instruction such as literature, performing arts and film,” Robertson said. “However, with modern Internet technology and a consortium of participating universities, individual expertise across universities can be shared and will enable our students to have access to broader instructional content.” 

Robertson noted that in addition to extending learning opportunities, using new forms of media combined with traditional texts will enhance students’ learning experience.

The grant will be used to offer two lectures during the 2010-2011 academic year – a lecture on Chinese music in fall 2010 and a lecture on Chinese literature in spring 2011. Robertson will teach the course on Chinese literature and Wei will teach the course on Chinese music. The course on Chinese music will include a demonstration by three Chinese musicians from Disney’s Epcot Center.

Robertson said he hopes the pilot project will provide a working model that can be used by others both within and outside the ACS Chinese teaching network. He and Wei plan to use technology expertise from NITLE, which moved to Southwestern last summer, to implement the project.

Bill O’Brien, associate professor of physics, and John Ore, professor of theatre, received $7,168 to work with a colleague at Trinity University to develop a course that will be cross-listed between Environmental Studies, Theatre and Physics. The course will focus on energy conservation strategies for the theater, particularly the replacement of incandescent lighting fixtures with systems that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The grant proposal stems from a project Ore began last September to design LED technology for Heather Hall, a small theater on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building. Ore and O’Brien have been working on the project along with four students and two staff members. Ore is working on designing the LED system during his sabbatical this spring and senior physics major Santos Reyes is doing an energy audit of the current incandescent lighting system in Heather Hall as part of his Capstone project, which will be presented in April.

The project’s ultimate goal is to install a renewable energy system on the roof of the Fine Arts Building that will generate electrical energy equal to the needs of the LED lighting system.

The ACS grant money will be used to help pay the students who are working on the project. It also will be used to purchase a solar panel and a wind turbine that can be used as teaching tools. Ore is seeking additional funds to complete the Heather Hall project, which is expected to cost between between $50,000 and $75,000.

Ore said he hopes the project will serve as a model for other colleges that are interested in energy conservation. He and O’Brien will be working on the project with Tim Francis, a member of the Department of Speech and Drama at Trinity. Ore and O’Brien hope to offer their first class in the summer of 2011.