Latest projects funded through Third Century Initiative

Michigan News

Since coming to the University of Michigan in 2003 Professor Anne Mondro has dedicated her research and studio work to discovering how creativity impacts health care, with particular emphasis on aging and memory loss. Over the decade, the associate professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design has brought the school’s students along on her journey.

As one of the latest faculty teams to receive funding from the Third Century Initiative, Mondro and colleagues from the Medical School, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, the College of Literature, Sciences and the Arts, The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the U-M Geriatrics Center’s Silver Club Mild Memory Loss Programs, along with several community partners, will expand the experience to include undergraduate and graduate students from across campus.

The Memory, Aging and Expressive Arts hands-on course first will introduce students to memory loss, with experts from neurology, psychology, public health, social work and the arts. The second half of the Winter 2014 class will be dedicated to experiential learning, as students are paired with older adults to work on a creative project: a film, photo collage, series of paintings or perhaps a living scrap book.

“We hope the students can not only learn about memory loss but really build empathy and understanding for what older adults experience as they age,” Mondro said, adding that many students aren’t exposed to older people outside of their families. The population of older adults is growing at a great rate, with those 65 and older expected to double from 2010 to 2050, creating a significant health care challenge.

The Third Century Initiative is a $50 million program established by the president and provost to inspire innovative programs that enhance the student learning experience and to develop creative approaches to the world’s greatest challenges.  Faculty can apply to various grant programs to achieve these goals.

The aging and creativity course is one of 14 projects funded in the latest round of the Student Learning component of the initiative.

“I continue to be impressed with the way faculty have embraced the challenge to develop innovative educational, research and service-related experiences for our students,” said Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This round of proposals supports projects that exhibit very creative thinking about how to engage students in experiential learning that crosses disciplinary boundaries.”

Faculty can apply within the Student Learning and Global Challenges grant programs for different levels of funding. Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC) has two grant programs: Quick Wins and Discovery & Transformation. Quick Wins are described as “relatively small-scale, ‘shovel ready’ projects that have transformative potential for curriculum.” To date three rounds of Quick Wins have been funded, and a call for the next and possibly final round already has been made, with the deadline of Oct. 18. The aging course is a Quick Win.

Discovery & Transformation is a two-phase grant program for longer-term programs that involve risk, discovery and experimentation. This round includes awards for Discovery. The first Transformation call for proposals is expected to be released in early 2014.

The Global Challenges for a Third Century (GCTC) grant program accepted proposals earlier this month with an announcement of awards expected Nov. 15. More information on each program and deadlines can be found at

“From projects that engage students with the latest technology to those that seek to enhance immersive community experiences, this latest round of proposals represent some really interesting opportunities and collaborations,” said Melanie Sanford, chair of the Student Learning Advisory Committee and Moses Gomberg Collegiate Professor of Chemistry in LSA. “Among others, faculty have proposed projects that would formalize internship experiences, develop a family-centered approach to preparing would-be teachers, and bolster arts education in the community.”

Other projects funded in the latest round include:

Quick Wins (Up to $25,000 in one-time funding)

  • Recognizing co-curricular learning using digital badges
  • SLIP: Summer lab for interdisciplinary performance
  • Data collection for digital signal processing
  • Enhancing student learning through community immersion and research internships in Detroit
  • Student engagement with the local and the global food system
  • Student experiments in biomedical physics: a journey to inner space
  • Using the STEM studio to design STEM-related learning experiences and artifacts: a trans-disciplinary collaboration
  • Side-by-Side: A practice-based, student-driven collaborative conference

Discovery (Up to $50,000 in one-time funding)

  • El Sistema (a pilot music program for diverse children in the community)
  • Revitalizing the chemical engineering senior design experience – empowerment, entrepreneurship, and a flipped classroom experience
  • Integrating internships into undergraduate education
  • The family centered education experience: preparing new teachers for understanding and teaching in diverse communities
  • Experiential learning in construction: the case for construction

Mondro and colleagues hope the Memory, Aging and Expressive Arts course will build life skills and broaden the knowledge of students, as well as help address stigma and pre-conceived notions about aging.

“It’s interesting and very inspiring to see an 18-year-old working with a 90-year-old,” Mondro said. “The students learn that they can gain a lot from their elders. They also come to realize the importance of engagement with the community.”

New Third Century Initiative website helps faculty navigate funding process

A redesigned Third Century Initiative website,, offers faculty the information they need to prepare and submit proposals for both Transforming Learning for a Third Century and Global Challenges for a Third Century grants.

Launched in August, the site features a calendar of deadlines, a list of dos and don’ts for writing a proposal, and a form for easy submission.  It also includes a list of previously funded projects, and highlights successes from the program.

An extensive FAQ section answers the most commonly asked questions about the initiative, including who can submit, criterion for the grants and specific activities that can be funded.


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