Professors selected for Commons Awards Starter Grants

Monday, January 12, 2015

LAWRENCE – The Commons, a partnership at the University of Kansas that encourages cross-disciplinary research and learning, awarded $20,000 in the fall 2014 cycle of its Interdisciplinary Starter Grant.

Two research teams will receive $10,000 to launch their interdisciplinary projects in 2014-2015. D. Bryon Darby and Tim Hossler, both with design, and Paul Stock, sociology and environmental studies, received funds for The New American Farmer. Through extensive interviews with first-generation farmers, the research team aims to “challenge and expand our image of today’s farmer” by documenting diverse practices and the “hope of possibility” that the farmers represent. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the researchers will challenge the perceived reality of agriculture in the U.S. through a book of interviews and photographs, a traveling exhibition and, consequently, a larger conversation.

To initiate their proposed research project, Engaged Design: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Public Impact of Design, the following faculty and staff received funding: Joe Colistra, architecture; Martha Rabbani, peace & conflict studies; Jeremy Shellhorn, design; Amanda Schwegler, Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, as well as Andi Witczak, professor of practice in design thinking at Kansas State University-Olathe.

The project aims to establish an interdisciplinary group of scholars invested in engaged research who will host a symposium on the topic. The symposium will serve to unite scholars and develop ideas for a future scholarly journal on the effect of engaged design. Additionally, the project seeks to invoke engagement as a pedagogical approach through an event that imagines a “new kind of neighborhood” — one that considers the needs of people of all ages and income levels.

The Commons is a collaboration of the Biodiversity Institute, the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Spencer Museum of Art. Its mission is to bring together scholars and students from the sciences, humanities and arts to explore the reciprocal relationships between natural and cultural systems. Interdisciplinary starter grants were made possible through the support of the KU Center for Research.