Grant Awards for Projects: Dean’s Global Inquiries Fund

The Dean’s Global Inquiries Fund, an initiative that encourages the collective investigation of global topics across the liberal arts, recently awarded its second round of grants.

Dean Steven J. Fluharty established the fund to advance the School’s commitment to driving global change, a key priority in the Power of Penn Arts and Sciences fundraising campaign.

Dean Fluharty says that the funded projects “typify the global reach of our faculty. These awardees demonstrate how Penn Arts and Sciences faculty are moving their fields forward by creating avenues for international collaboration and knowledge-sharing.”

The following projects were selected to receive up to $50,000 to support a variety of activities including research, conferences, workshops, film screenings and course development. These projects are inherently collaborative, forward-thinking and interdisciplinary and use the tools of the social and natural sciences and humanities.

Trauma and the Arts, South Africa in Dialogue with Philadelphia: Led by Carol Muller, professor of music, this project brings together faculty and leaders in Philadelphia community organizations and schools as well as South African educators and artists. The goal is to create a culture of trauma-informed learning and instruction using drawing, dancing, singing, acting and storytelling as a vehicle for the emotional and psychological effects of trauma. In addition to building an online resource for knowledge-sharing, the project will include a three-day conference for all stakeholders. Involved Penn faculty include Herman Beavers, professor of English and Africana studies, and James Pawelski, professor of practice and director of education in the Positive Psychology Center.

Shared Practices, Common Legacies: Ottoman Science from a Global Perspective: This project, led by Harun Küçük, assistant professor of history and sociology of science, will organize an international workshop focused on Ottoman scientific texts. The workshop will initiate an international collaborative project to translate sourcebooks of Ottoman scientific texts from a variety of languages, religious backgrounds, and geographical areas. This endeavor addresses the lack of Ottoman sources currently in translation and applies global history, a progressive methodology that sees beyond current national or linguistic barriers. Oscar Aguirre-Mandujano, an incoming assistant professor of Ottoman history, will join the project.

Undergraduate Seminar on Comparative Ancient Epics: Peter Struck, professor and chair of Classical studies, will develop an undergraduate seminar in collaboration with Yale-NUS, based in Singapore, on five ancient texts: Gilgamesh, Iliad, Odyssey, Ramayana, and Aeneid. Dr. Struck and Mira Seo, associate professor of humanities, Yale-NUS, will teach the course on their respective campuses in spring 2019. As part of the course, Yale-NUS students will visit Philadelphia and Penn students will go to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and travel to Singapore for classes and visits to the  Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.

Urban Sea: Living in Anthropogenic Waters: Nikhil Anand, assistant professor of anthropology, will lead 14 months of field research in Mumbai, focusing on the daily practices of fishers and dockworkers, the research practices of coastal scientists at sea, and ideological and material work of urban engineers building along the coast. By examining the life of coastal megacities from their waters, Urban Sea will examine how these spaces are inhabited in a time of extreme ecological flux. Bethany Wiggin, associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures and founding director of Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, and Anuradha Mathur, professor of landscape architecture at PennDesign, will be part of this project.

Religion and the Global Future: This project is led by Steven Weitzman, Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literature and Ella Darivoff, director of the Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies. It is an effort to create a new kind of learning experience for students interested in the role that religion plays in international conflict, global environmental concerns and human rights issues. Dr. Weitzman will develop an undergraduate course and symposium that will include global speakers from the fields of religious studies, international relations, and public policy. Ultimately, this project will lay the groundwork to create a network of scholars who study the public policy impacts of religious studies.

Active Coating Technologies (ACT) to Mitigate the Global Water Crisis: Zahra Fakhraai, associate professor of chemistry, will lead this effort to form an international faculty working group to develop coatings that can redirect, harvest, and purify water in environments that lack access to safe water. In addition to building collaborative relationships with researchers from around the world, this project will support summer internships, located in Korea, for chemistry and engineering graduate students interested in developing reliable materials for water management. Involved Penn faculty include Daeyeon Lee, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Russell J. Composto, professor of materials science and engineering, bioengineering, and chemical and biomolecular engineering.