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Shared Reading from the Provost's Page

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: July 6, 2004
Latest Update: July 7, 2004

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Index of Topics on Site Collaboration in the Academy

  1. Introduction Why I chose to share this reading.
  2. Focus: Main point of this reading.
  3. Reading Full identification of Source for Reading.
  4. Concepts: Keywords for theory and discussion.
  5. Discussion Discussion questions.
  6. Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses

* * *


I was curious to see what an elite school like Harvard offered its students in the area of multidisciplinary collaboration. Since transaparency and collaboration are two of the focal points of our model of discourse, a project funded as collaboration might have something we want to share.


What Harvard's working definition of collaboration is, compared to our working definition on Dear Habermas.

Concepts and Key Words:

  • collaborative: apparently means cross-disciplinary, cross-schools of disciplines here.
  • answerability: students seem to have voiced a request for this funding, which seems to be parallel to faculty funding; but that means they were heard
  • extracurricular: so this is regarded as outside the standard curriculum. I should have thought it would be central to a solid and creative liberal arts education. Where is our law professor now to decry the turning of liberal students. (Politics of Law, Kennedy.)
  • to explore a particular subject: I think they just mean a particular topic, in this instance.
  • academic enterprise: Gee, I wish they'd defined that. What's an enterprise in this sense?
  • intellectual inquiry: I like that! Exploring ideas and concepts across disciplines. Yes.
  • collaborative academic activities: "such as a conference, a speaker series, or other similar activities;" rather prosaic activities, doesn't convey the excitement of "intellectual inquiry."
  • eligibility: they speak of "leaders" or Deans. Hmmm. Sounds like CSUDH. You must be a leader of a student organization to apply, or have your Dean apply if you are an individual seeking the grant. Since they allow individuals to apply through their deans, their eligibility rules are probably flexible if you know the system.
  • up to $3000: rather a paltry sum, but would depend on the projects themselves.
  • accountability: reports on who participated in what activities and any resulting product. Resulting product might include out-of-the-box thinking. So might the activities, if they were creative.


While reviewing Harvard's defense on employing corporations that used sweatshops, I searched for an old file that had disappeared. But I landed on the Provost's Page. And snooped a little. Surely, there must be something there we could adapt. And there, lo and behold, was the Provost's Fund for Student Collaboration. Intrigued, I copied here so that I could mark it up for us to talk about, and for me to share what I think Harvard means by collaboration. jeanne. My highlights are in purple. jeanne.
Provost's Fund for Student Collaboration


Fostering exchange across the University's several faculties is one of the Provost's Office's priorities. Since 1998, the Provost's Office has provided small grants to groups of faculty members from different schools within the University to explore topics of common interest from multiple disciplinary perspectives.

Increasingly, students have sought similar opportunities. Just as faculty members have reached across school boundaries, so too have students recognized the value in communicating and collaborating with their fellow students in other schools and disciplines. There has, however, been no mechanism to enable groups of students to work together or to undertake specific collaborative projects.

The Provost's Office, therefore, has created a fund to support extracurricular academic collaborations among groups of students enrolled in different schools of the University. The Provost's Fund for Student Collaboration (PFSC) supports specific activities that bring together students from various faculties to explore a particular subject. Grants of up to $3000 will be awarded. The distinguishing characteristic of this fund is its devotion to academic enterprises. The fund is intended to enable students interested in a particular area of intellectual inquiry to explore that area with students enrolled in other schools. These one-year grants support specific activities, and do not provide continuing support.

Form Of Activities/Eligibility

The Fund will typically support a network or consortium of student organizations engaged in collaborative academic activities, such as a conference, a speaker series, or other similar activities. To be eligible, the working group must consist of representatives of recognized student organizations from at least three different schools and include at least 10 students.

Each group must have a faculty "home" that will (a) oversee the financial aspects of the grant, and (b) provide whatever administrative oversight or guidance is necessary. A note from a senior administrator at the home school (typically the Dean of Students) agreeing to host the working group must accompany the application.

In unusual cases, a group of individual students from different schools but not affiliated with official student organizations may want to work together on a specific academic project, such as a conference. In such a case, the Provost's Fund will consider making a one-time grant to assist in the particular project. Applications for such grants must be submitted by the Dean of Students or comparable senior administrator of the school agreeing to be the "home" Faculty. In addition, each such group must have a Faculty Adviser, who may hold an appointment at the "home" school or at another school.

The fund is not intended to provide support for new, continuing student organizations. For this reason, a student consortium may refer to itself as "the Student Consortium on X at Harvard", but may not use the Harvard name or insignia in any other way, especially in ways that suggest that it is a permanent student organization.


Grants of up to $3000 are available for each group selected. Funding is available to cover expenses such as (a) meeting costs for the group (meals, refreshments, etc.), (b) travel costs for outside speakers or experts visiting the group or (c) costs related to a conference.

Funding will not typically cover salaries (of students or faculty), routine technology costs, or other expenses that are covered through other sources.

Application Process

The group leader (or in the case of individual students, the Dean of Students) should submit a brief application (around 2 pages) describing the group's topic, and the specific activities planned, and a general budget, and identifying the other student groups (or students) involved. A note from the home school endorsing the project and agreeing to the oversight mentioned above must accompany the application.

Grants must be used in the year in which they are awarded. Two reports, one at the end of the first semester and one at the end of the year, will be expected from each group, detailing in what activities the group has engaged, who has participated, the substance of the issues explored, and any resulting products.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. Please deliver all proposals either via email to or in hard copy to:

Provost's Fund for Student Collaboration . . .

Discussion Questions:

  1. Let's think of this activity in terms of Reframing the Organization. Where's the room for leadership and management responsibilities. Does this project sound like it is to be over-managed or over-led?

    Think about rules and about the kind of time and space constraints that are set. In addition to regular class work. Face-to-face interaction seems prescribed. Does entrepreneurship start with leaders or does this environment seem to set leaders up in the guis of entrepreneurs?

  2. What could you imagine as an interdisciplinary intellectual inquiry, not covering technical equipment, and no salaries, that we could do with $3000 for Naked Space?

    Consider outreach. Would you want to offer eats at the Exhibits. Two a year. Go check with the Student Union and figure out what that would cost. Either Harvard charges lots less for providing eats than CSUDH, which would be kind of ironic, I guess, or there's not enough of a budget to meet more than a few times. No speakers' honorariums, or barely any. But they are on the East Coast where many leading academics are close to hand.

  3. Do you think the Naked Space could qualify for this collaborative grant?

    Consider that they want three schools involved, not just three disciplines. Of course, they have a lot of schools. Like the law school, and the school of government, and the school of public health. Think we could pull that off?

  4. My general feeling as I read the grant proposal was that they don't really expect much of their students in this endeavor. How did you feel about it?

    Look at the sample activities. A conference, a couple of speakers. What about follow-up? I expect you to produce the gallery show. Am I expecting too much? Don't forget we allow this as a class project. So it's not technically extracurricular. Why not? Whose got the discretionary time?

  5. Did this bring to mind any criticism of how we're handling the Naked Space?

    For me, it accented the extent to which we have failed, despite a number of efforts, to enlist the support of other faculty in this or in other schools. What could we do about that?

Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses

  • Agencies:
    Sample linking: Ways in which underlying assumptions of assimilation affect services offered and clients' ability to access and use those services. How must the student be assimilated to be successful in this endeavor. Consider the Office of the Dean of Students as an agency for student welfare. Do you think it's working?

  • Criminal Justice:
    Sample linking: Suppose you were very bright and very committed and very Harvard. What if you were so caught up in what you were studying you weren't into club leadership. Definitely not a Bush. But you knew a club leader you could convince to do your project, and just let you run it behind the scene. Recall Merton's ends and means analysis in deviance: if the means are blocked, be creative in getting around them. Recall Fastow of Enron. Is that the lesson you would want this very bright, very committed, very Harvard student to learn?

  • Law:
    Sample linking: Extent to which laws are made on the assumption that we are all essentially assimilated to the dominant culture. here's an example of the underlying assumption that we all belong on the Harvard campus. See the rules. Consider legitimacy when some voices are silenced. Is this a real example of silencing? Or is silencing more blatant than this? Careful with that one.

  • Moot Court:
    Sample linking: Ways in which to make the claim of non-assimilation heard. What might you do with this grant to teach the Harvard Student Body that it is operating on some unstated assumptions?

  • Women in Poverty:
    Sample linking: What's the likelihood of a poor women being a club leader at Harvard? What's the likelihood of many of the poorer students making their voice heard in such a project?

  • Race, Class, and Gender:
    Sample linking: Would it help to be a club leader if you didn't need to work for supplementary income? Would it help to be a club leader if you didn't need to worry about getting the best grades you could because everyone is expecting you to "make it?" Do you think this stress is being taken into account in the underlying assumptions that all students could equally well be club leaders?

  • Religion:

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, July 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.