Projects supported by the 250th Fund for Innovation in Undergraduate Education


Funded Projects AY 21-22

Poster for French film called Intouchables showing a black man and a while man, both smiling.

Screening Difference: Race and Multiculturalism in French Cinema

André Benhaïm (French & Italian)

A survey of French cinema that will introduce the origins and history of French cinema through the lens of race, ethnicity and multiculturalism. It will familiarize students with the most prominent films, directors, actors, genres, and aesthetic movements from the 1890s, exploring representations of citizenship, race, ethnicity, and identity, as well as the ways discrimination and humanism are approached, and sometimes conflict. The course will thus introduce various ways of representing diversity and inclusion in film and more broadly will enable students to engage in informed and nuanced discussions on race and social diversity, beyond the French or class context.

Detail of mural showing wildlife of the Amazon entwined featuring a bird and snakes

Detail of Um povo sagrado ninguém pode vencer (2021) by Jaidar Esbell

Planet Amazonia: Engaging Indigenous Ecologies of Knowledges

João Biehl (Anthropology) and Miqueias H. Mugge (Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies)

This seminar will introduce first year students to the field of anthropology through foregrounding Indigenous Ecologies of Knowledges in the combat against biodiversity loss and climate change. Based on the premise that there will be no future for Amazonia and our threatened planet if Indigenous knowledge practices are not fully appreciated and foregrounded, the course will include hands on service projects and a class trip to the Amazon region (when feasible), encouraging students to start their exploration of environmental and anthropological studies at Princeton by attending to the dynamic ecologies in which the rainforest is shaped and cared for.

250th Anniversary Fund banner

Mutualism and Symbiosis

Andy P. Dobson (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), with Mark Torchin (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, STRI) and other STRI faculty

The department will add a new course to the Junior Seminar Program in Panama, splitting the current course on parasitism into two sequential courses, parasitism and mutualism (mutualism focuses on relationships where both species benefit from their interaction: pollination, seed dispersal, protection). The additional course will expand access to the Junior Seminar Program and allow students to delve more deeply into this pressing and relevant set of questions in the field, while also drawing on the expertise of researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, where the program is based, with the goal of ultimately encouraging more students to become tropical biologists.


half of an exploding globe made of world currencies and crypto currency

Special topics in Computer Science- Web3: Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, and Decentralization

Robert S. Fish (Computer Science)

This course was newly offered in Spring 2022 to fill a significant curriculum gap and had a large enrollment and waitlist; as a result of such rapid development and because the field is new and radically changing in real time (technically but also in economic, policy, and legal terms), it will benefit from significant revision and retooling in preparation for another iteration in Spring 2023–including gathering feedback on the current course, further developing lectures, recruiting guest speakers active in the field, creating new active learning activities and problem sets, and identifying open-source tools and platforms that can be leveraged for final projects.


vintage tv with static on screen

American Television

William Gleason (English)

This new lower-level course within Princeton’s English department will focus on the study of American television, offering broad appeal to non-English majors while also introducing interpretive skills to potential concentrators in English. This course will consider how television has shaped American culture and also how American culture has shaped television, foreground a range of formal, social, and cultural practices and preoccupations specific to TV, and explore television as a productive site for thinking about diversity and inclusion.

Fresco showing a woman with a writing implement and a book. Fresco is from Pompeii and is now in the Naples National Archaeological Museum

Sappho, Embodied

Barbara Graziosi (Classics)

In this redeveloped course, Sappho will be taught both in the original Greek (for advanced Classics students) and also in translation (thus broadening the course for other interested students who do not have a deep background in the language). The course will also enact embodied teaching and learning techniques through a partnership with Hope Mohr Dance Company and through studying how other writers attempted to impersonate and imitate Sappho after her death. The course aims to offer a model for teaching ancient literature to students who both do and do not speak the language that can apply to other ancient language and literature courses, by setting up dialogue and collaboration and pioneering new pedagogies supporting such dialogue.


silhouette of head with puzzle pieces that say bias where brain is located

Philosophy of Bias: The Psychology, Ethics and Epistemology of Stereotypes 

Grace E. Helton (Philosophy)

PHI 352: The Psychology, Ethics and Epistemology of Stereotypes will be reimagined in both form and content. In a new unit on Intersectionality Theory, students will be encouraged to think through key issues of discrimination across different kinds of identities. In addition, some or all of the lectures will be “flipped,” so that students will watch pre-recorded lectures and come to class ready to lead discussion; in this intervention, Professor Helton will adapt aspects of her pandemic pedagogy to in-person teaching to promote students’ deeper engagement with the material and active learning. 

Overlapping highway ramps at different heights

Broadening the on-ramp: Addressing barriers to entry in the physics curriculum

William C. Jones (Physics) and Katerina Visnjic (Physics)

As part of a broad curricular shift, the Physics Department will build on the significant adjustments to the first year curriculum it has made to further develop the curriculum for second-year prospective physics majors. The department will add two new classes to the second year program that will further smooth the barriers to entry to the major, especially for students who may not have strong pre-college math and physics backgrounds. At the same time, careful decisions regarding reallocating some content to upper level courses will ensure that rigor is not sacrificed and that there is both continuity and flexibility for students from all backgrounds.



Improving Engagement of Students with Prior Programming Experience in COS 126

Alan Kaplan (Computer Science)

A new precept track for COS 126 will engage and challenge students with previous programming experience, thus addressing the problem of how to fully support the more advanced students in this introductory course. While students with little or no prior experience programming will continue to use the current precept content, the more advanced students will enroll in precepts where they are expected to apply their prior programming knowledge in novel and compelling ways, especially through active learning approaches–such as programming a mini computer called the Raspberry Pi platform. 


Betty Boop, early animation

Courtesy Thomas Hawk, Flicker, CC Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic


Russ Leo (English) and Monica Huerta (English)


A new gateway lecture course, part of a broader departmental curriculum redesign, will welcome prospective majors to English by modeling interdisciplinary practices that involve merging archives and methods of different disciplines. The course will survey the varieties of animation across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as well as their critical reception, situating early cinematic experiments with animation in robust period debates about vitalism, mechanism, and the vicissitudes of the human and animal body in modernity. Both a survey of animation and a rigorous introduction to critical reading and critical practice, it will emphasize issues of race and class, racism and labor.

cell phone showing a collaboration app

Project Leadership

Laurel Lorenz (Molecular Biology) with Heather A. Thieringer, Elizabeth R. Gavis, Daniel A. Notterman, and Jodi Schottenfeld-Roames (Molecular Biology)

A new program across three Molecular Biology courses (MOL214, MOL320, and MOL350) will coach and guide students in effective teamwork through introducing a structured program to teach leadership, cooperation, and collaboration skills. Based on a critical need to provide training for effective teamwork skills in STEM courses, the program aims to empower all students to identify themselves as leaders and ultimately to increase the diversity and inclusivity of leadership in the STEM field. Instructors will design highly structured team-based assignments through allocating different student roles, and guide and coach students in effective team-building and organization. 


silhouette of a human head with musical notes and annotation exploding from outline of head

Transforming Music Cognition

Elizabeth H. Margulis (Music)

This course will be revised from a small lecture to a large lecture-plus-precept format, with redesigned assessments that better capture the course's aims for students to learn to think back and forth between science, the humanities, and the arts. With precepts in addition to the lectures, students will be able to more effectively practice new skills, to have more hands-on engagement with the material, and to have sustained discussions around the course’s complex topics. The redevelopment will also allow for diversified materials and to incorporate student performance into the course, and will expand its size so that more students can take this popular course.

a current of electricity arks from  a copper orb to a wand

Image by Rick Soden, Senior Lab Preparator and Staff Photographer, Department of Physics

General Physics

Daniel R. Marlow (Physics) with Gage DeZoort (Physics)


New class sections will be embedded within this existing course to allow all students to thrive: supporting students entering Princeton with less background knowledge in Physics and Math, the sections will place extra attention on building up foundational skills. This added support will significantly improve students’ ability to handle the rest of the PHY103 material, and thus be prepared for subsequent courses in science and engineering. The additional sections will involve creating a new set of Learning Guides, to give students practice with fundamental skills. 


researcher samples water from a stream

Environmental Materials Chemistry: Researching in the Field and Laboratory

Satish C. Myneni (Geosciences)


This new course (first taught in SP22) will be further developed through the addition of field trips and writing workshops which will introduce sophomores and juniors both to research in the field and to key scientific writing skills, specifically through studying the long-term evolution of the earth in contrast to our rapid human perturbations of these environments. Students will collect soil and water samples on a trip to Hawaii during semester break and to communicate their discoveries by developing a scholarly article.


idealized sketch of indian chiftain

Not Your Mascot: Contesting Indigenous Representation

Robbie J. Richardson (English)

Through a robust program of guest speakers and hands-on experience in this redeveloped course, students will explore the historical role of Indigenous people as a trope in Western and especially American culture, the material effects of such representations, and the longstanding resistance to them among Indigenous people. Students will work with the Indigenous holdings in both Firestone Library and the Princeton Art Museum, visit collections such as the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and Indigenous communities and activist spaces, and also possibly curate an online exhibition from the university’s holdings with the aid of artists and historians from Indigenous communities. We will hear from Indigenous curators, artists, and writers about the legacies of colonialism and explore ways to support Indigenous sovereignty and futurity. 

Collage with close-up male and female eyes of different ethnicity and age in a vertical stack

How to See

Gayle Salamon (English)

This new course will offer both a textual study of perception and a practicum, reimagining the forms that learning takes in the classroom. In addition to reading about phenomenological philosophy, students will directly experience perception in embodied forms through carefully observing their own habits of hearing, listening, touch, and movement, documenting those investigations through rigorous description, and sharing those descriptions with the class in sessions of collective inquiry. In a final project, students will use perceptual attention and descriptive practice to produce an original phenomenology of an object, a place, or an event that they have observed over the course of the semester. The course will begin in a smaller seminar version, and then be expanded into a larger lecture course. 


ethereal woman reading a book, wirh an owl on her shoulder, surrounded by blue flying creatures against the backdrop of a full bookcase

Mantra / Esch-sur-Alzette - 14 Oct 2017, by Ferdinand Feys, via Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. This image has not been altered from the original format.

SPA 307: Ways of Reading and Writing in Spanish

Dunia C. Méndez Vallejo (Spanish & Portuguese) and Mariana Bono (Spanish & Portuguese)


This advanced language course will be redeveloped and reinvigorated to better fit student needs, implement relevant and engaging critical pedagogies, and introduce class activities that provide more opportunities for sustained language practice than the current version of the course. The redevelopment responds to critical student feedback regarding the course as it stands and the prevailing realization that it no longer fully meets student goals and needs. Specifically, the redesigned course will focus on teaching linguistic, pragmatic, and sociocultural meanings in context to help students develop the finely-tuned, highly advanced proficiency in the language required of upper-level departmental courses in literary and cultural studies.