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10 faculty development projects receive funding

By : Greg Norman

Ten proposals have been selected to receive funding from the University’s recently launched Academic Program and Faculty Development Fund, a new source of income created to foster campus-based academic research and development projects.

The fund will provide $250,000 annually in financial assistance through 2017 and is drawn from a $6 million gift an anonymous donor gave the school last April.

Projects being funded this semester range from the development of a new minor in immigration studies to improvements in Binghamton’s online courses.

 “We looked for ideas that were interesting, engaging and provocative,” said S.G. Grant, dean of the School of Education. Grant led a four-person committee of faculty from the School of Management, Harpur College and the Watson School that recommended 17 of the 38 faculty-submitted proposals to Provost Mary Ann Swain, who then decided which projects would be funded.

Proposals were recommended based on their ability to generate work collaborations among the faculty of Binghamton’s six schools and their potential for future external funding, Grant said.

“We also looked at the potential impact a proposal would have both on campus and off campus,” he said.

The largest award from the fund, $75,000, went to the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies to create a series of interdisciplinary programs for the upcoming school year on the expansion of global markets and the challenges of international trade, transport and banking from the fourth through 18th centuries.

According to Karen-edis Barzman, director of CEMERS, the program will be taught through a series of conferences, lectures, workshops and courses on campus. The department plans to produce a four- to eight-part documentary series on the subject to be broadcast  on local TV station WSKG, with the help of funding from PBS.

“Of particular interest to WSKG is the added focus on the commodities behind this expansion of trade, particularly those consumable products we take for granted today as cheap sources of energy and snack foods for a global market, like coffee, sugar, chocolate and tobacco,” Barzman said.

Faculty and graduate students working with the program will also collaborate  with middle and high school teachers from the Teacher Center of Broome County to help bring elements of the curriculum to secondary-level schools, Barzman added.

Geraldine Britton, a research assistant professor at the Decker School of Nursing, along with Gary James, Sean McKitrick and Steven Lynn, received $43,575 to continue Binghamton’s Interdisciplinary Tobacco Research Use Program (ITURP), which studies tobacco use in pregnant women from rural areas.

“We’ve been conducting focus groups with pregnant women and their health-care providers to learn about their experiences of smoking during pregnancy, how it affects them and their babies and why they don’t stop smoking,” Britton said.

According to Britton, undergraduate and graduate nursing students have assisted in maintaining these groups for the past three years by attending them, taking notes and analyzing transcripts of conversations.

A curriculum on tobacco use and behavioral changes is also in development to be integrated into undergraduate and graduate studies.

Funds will also be used to create an assessment tool for tobacco use in pregnant women, a website to inform the community of ITURP’s operations and a study to explore the feasibility of creating a clinical chemistry laboratory at Binghamton to expand tobacco-related research capabilities, according to the proposal.

A proposal submitted by College of Community and Public Affairs faculty members Lubna Chaudhry, Sunha Choi, Dina Maramba, Nadia Rubaii-Barrett and Thomas Sinclair to develop a program in immigration studies has also received $20,000 in funding.

“It’s our intention to develop the foundation for an undergraduate concentration in immigration studies that will include theoretical examinations of how immigration and citizenship is viewed in several nations, including the United States,” said Patricia Ingraham, CCPA dean.

This summer, the funding will be used to support faculty in the creation of new courses for the planned minor, including research and travel expenses from meeting with experts and studying immigration programs in foreign countries.

Other faculty at Binghamton’s six schools will also be called on for expertise in immigration research and issues related to citizenship, according to Rubaii-Barrett.

“What this program is really designed to do is to build the interdisciplinary synergies across multiple departments and build on the strengths across faculty who may otherwise work in isolation on this particular topic,” she said.

At the graduate level, funds will be allocated to develop a certificate program in management of immigration services in local governments.

The program will be assisted by the creation of a map of immigration populations in proximity to immigration services in Greater Binghamton, according to Rubaii-Barrett.

“In the long term, we want very much for this to be a program that links Binghamton University even more closely to the history and social fabric of Broome County,” Ingraham said.

Charles R. Westgate, a Bartle professor of electrical and computer engineering, has received $24,700 to improve the quality of Binghamton’s online courses.

With the help of instructional designers brought into the University, he hopes to teach a group of 10-20 faculty members how to create online courses in a module format instead of teaching through traditional lectures.

“It’s well known in the area of online learning that it’s better to divide (the curriculum) into carefully chosen modules with specific objectives,” Westgate said. “It gives students time between modules to test their learning and assess where they are before they move onto the next module.”

Based on past experience from working at Johns Hopkins University to develop online programs, Westgate believes the module format is more suitable for digital learning, as students may momentarily walk away from their computer during a lecture.

“When you’re dealing with online courses you have to deal with students differently than you do in person,” he said. “You don’t have that social presence with them.”   


Other proposals to receive funding:

• $33,000 to Bahgat Sammakia for the Binghamton Innovation Program.

• $19,450 to Cassandra Bransford for using interpersonal psychotherapy to treat depression and anxiety among older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

• $8,980 to Upinder Dhillon for inter-institutional partnerships to offer joint PhD seminars.

• $8,250 to Lubna Chaudhry to study the impact of armed conflict on children from Swat, Pakistan.

• $6,300 to Erin Rushton for search engine optimization of Binghamton University Libraries’ web pages.

• $2,380 to Rosmarie Morewedge for the Upstate New York German Studies Colloquium Conference.

More information on each proposal can be read at


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Last Updated: 10/14/08