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New Funding Opportunities from the Center for Academic Innovation

Rachel Niemer, Director of Outreach & Access


Last week, President Schlissel announced a major investment to expand academic innovation on campus. Part of our effort to meet that charge includes creating new funding opportunities for faculty to explore their own ideas for innovation. This week, we are launching four new calls for proposals. All project teams should consult with a member of the Academic Innovation team prior to submitting their proposals. To request a consultation, fill out the form at the bottom of our Innovation Fund page.

Create New Online Learning Experiences

Throughout the last five years, the Center for Academic Innovation and our faculty partners have developed a broad portfolio of more than 160 online learning experiences across the University of Michigan’s 19 schools and colleges. These massive, open, online courses (MOOCs) and series highlight some of the incredible expertise here at the University, provide Michigan students with supplemental and exploratory learning opportunities, further position faculty and schools as leaders in their fields, re-engage alumni as lifelong learners, and help a global community of more than 4 million learners on-ramp into disciplinary programs, level-up existing skills, and dive deeper into key areas of interest.

However, there is still more to teach, more to learn, and more of the breadth and depth of the University community’s expertise to showcase and connect. Learners everywhere are looking to develop new skills, master new competencies, and better understand the world around them. To that end, we would like to invite faculty to submit proposals aimed at highlighting complex and growing areas of academic excellence at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Come help us celebrate, support, and make accessible the diversity of scholarship, knowledge, and experience of our institution.

Proposals submitted for this call should fit one of two tracks: Creating a MOOC (including mini-MOOCs, that require two hours, or less, of effort on the part of the learner) or Creating a MOOC Specialization (a set of 3-6 MOOCs). Proposals are due November 24, 2019. Details about the new online learning experiences call are available here.

Creating a Socially Just University in the 21st Century

In spring of 2019, the Center for Academic Innovation launched our first call for proposals soliciting projects focused on supporting diverse learners and fostering equity and inclusion. Today, in addition to celebrating the awardees from that call at our first “AIM for DEI” event of the year, we are announcing our new call to recruit projects that have similar objectives. The twist for this semester’s call is that we want to hear from project teams how their proposed work will help U-M to become their image of a 21st century, socially just university.

How can U-M expand its public purpose, extend academic excellence, and end educational privilege? Much has been written about the role higher education can play in social mobility (for example Fleming and Salisbury, 2018; Haveman and Smeeding, 2006), which could be a lens for exploring how to define “a socially just university.”  Certainly, fostering social mobility is one role higher education can play in creating a more socially just society, but that isn’t the only way one can conceive of connecting social justice and higher education. We want to hear from our community: where do you see opportunities to make U-M more socially just and how can U-M help create a more socially just society?

We invite all U-M Ann Arbor faculty and full-time, regular staff to propose projects that align with Academic Innovation’s mission and principles and aims to: 

  • support diverse learners, both online and in residence, 
  • create inclusive and equitable learning experiences, and
  • create connections between the university and diverse publics.

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis, either until funds run out or until December 6, 2019. All project teams should have a consultation with Academic Innovation. More details about this DE&I call are available here.

Create New Online or Hybrid Programs

As the University of Michigan broadens our efforts to develop and deliver online and hybrid degrees, there exists a unique opportunity to shape the future of higher education by leading online education into new pathways that meet the needs of a diverse population of lifelong learners. We invite academic units to work with the Center for Academic Innovation as we work to remove barriers of access to exceptional U-M learning experiences and to consider new approaches to engaging with learners at different stages of life and career.

We encourage academic units to explore opportunities to strategically rebundle content to create online program portfolios. The portfolio approach combines degree programs with open learning experiences—such as massive open online courses, a MicroMasters program, or a MasterTrack certificate—to create a variety of pathways for learners to engage as part of the Michigan community. 

Online program portfolios leverage our institutional and academic unit strengths to explore new opportunities and new modes of interdisciplinary learning and engagement, providing innovative learning experiences of various durations, commitment level, and depth of study. All academic units are eligible to submit a proposal. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 9, 2019. Additional information about the online and hybrid programs call is available here.

Create New XR Learning Experiences

Provost Philbert recently announced a new campus-wide extended reality (XR) initiative aimed at seeding new projects that integrate XR into residential curricula across all 19 schools and colleges, integrate XR into online curricula, and establish public-private partnerships to develop new XR educational technology. Projects that are appropriate for this call are expected (although not required) to fit into one of three categories: content creation, innovative application, or research.

One of our guiding principles is to ensure a multidisciplinary approach to represent points of view across the 19 schools and colleges at the University. The promise of XR technologies is vast and has been heralded for many years, and we are creating an  opportunity to test these hypotheses to shape the future of learning. Proposals will be accepted throughout the fall semester on a rolling basis until December 9, 2019. Additional details of the XR in teaching and learning call are available here.

We look forward to collaborating with project teams from across the Ann Arbor campus to reimagine higher education, advance the development of effective learning innovations, build a socially just university, and share the breadth of University of Michigan expertise with global lifelong learners.

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