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UC San Diego Names 2020-2022 Changemaker Faculty Fellows

Now in its second year, the Changemaker Faculty Fellows Program has named 16 faculty members in its 2020-2022 cohort. This two-year-long faculty development program enables faculty members to build a robust learning community and campus network of changemakers committed to addressing real world challenges through their teaching. Fellows selected will receive a $10,000 faculty development award over the course of two years.

The Changemaker Faculty Fellows Program is a partnership between the Teaching + Learning Commons' Engaged Teaching and Experiential Learning Hubs and the Center for Student Involvement, with the support of the Changemaker Steering Committee.

Through the program, faculty members are given the opportunity to integrate community engaged learning (CEL) into their teaching, research and public service while becoming recognized campus leaders in CEL pedagogy and practice. CEL is a form of experiential education that connects individuals to their communities and serves to instill values of social and civic responsibility.

Each fellow’s project gives students the opportunity to learn from and work with community members to make a difference in their local region, nationally and abroad. Fellows are selected in a competitive review process after submitting a project proposal that demonstrates an engagement with CEL and illustrates its potential impact on student engagement, among other requirements.

The impactful work of the fellows helps drive forward the mission of UC San Diego’s Changemaker Institute. Launched in October 2020, the Changemaker Institute serves as a supportive infrastructure to champion, oversee and reinforce changemaking efforts throughout campus. The campuswide institute’s mission is to advance UC San Diego’s ecosystem for changemaker education, research and community engagement among the campus community including students, staff, faculty and alumni.

The 2020-2022 cohort of UC San Diego Changemaker Faculty Fellows includes:

Theresa J. Ambo | Education Studies

Theresa J. Ambo
  • Project Title: Matlahuayl: (Un)mapping the University of California San Diego
  • Community Partners: Kumeyaay Nation and UC San Diego Indigenous Futures Lab
  • Project Description: In partnership with members of the Kumeyaay Nation, Ambo will develop an undergraduate community-engaged course about the temporal narrative and spatial geography of UC San Diego that is foregrounded in Indigenous knowledge and perspectives. Taking a decolonial and anti-colonial approach to community-engaged learning, her team of community partners and faculty aims to challenge the current history of the campus by rewriting and righting the existing narrative to redefine the institution’s relationship to place—such as land, territory, geography—and Indigenous peoples.
  • Social Impact: “There has never been a more critical time to recognize and address our complacency in the settler colonial history of the U.S.,” said Ambo. “Our team of Kumeyaay community scholars and UC San Diego faculty challenge this history by centering Indigenous voices to rewrite the temporal narrative of San Diego, our university and higher education as a whole.”

Lisa G. Adams and Dovi Kacev | Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Lisa G. Adams and Dovi Kacev
  • Project Title: Changemakers: Scripps Institution of Oceanography Undergraduates Engaged in Community Learning by Peer Mentoring Underrepresented Minority Elementary Students at the Ocean Discovery Institute
  • Community Partner: Ocean Discovery Institute (ODI)
  • Project Description: In Spring 2021, Adams and Kacev will partner with ODI to offer a Directed Group Studies course that is focused on mentoring elementary students. Located in the diverse community of City Heights, ODI uses ocean science to empower young people from under-resourced urban communities. The goals of this peer mentoring relationship are to provide authentic opportunities for undergraduates to develop professional and leadership skills by fostering the elementary students’ love of the ocean and their realization that a career in science is an accessible goal for them.
  • Impact: “We are honored to be able to work with the Changemaker Institute at UC San Diego on taking a small step toward addressing a systemic problem of a lack of diversity in the STEM fields, including the discipline of Ocean Science,” said Adams. “A career in science should be an attainable dream for any kid, but unfortunately, not all students get the same opportunities, especially when it comes to pre-college mentorship.”

Amy Vatne Bintliff | Education Studies

Amy Vatne Bintliff
  • Project Title: Supporting Youth Well-being through Community-Based Participatory Learning, Service-Learning and University-to-Partner Co-Design
  • Community Partners: La Colonia de Eden Gardens, Inc. in Solana Beach, CA; EJE Academies Charter School in El Cajon, CA; and Africa ELI in Kampala, Uganda
  • Project Description: Bintliff’s project strives to support youth and college-student well-being and mental health. She has introduced an arts-based co-designed global curriculum that is supported and co-facilitated by UC San Diego mentors enrolled in service-learning courses within the Department of Education Studies. The project will teach students the importance of social justice considerations in community engaged learning, as well as incorporate community-engaged learning methods in three existing courses and in a new education studies research-practicum course (EDS 190).
  • Impact: “As research reports that well-being often decreases in adolescence, and with rising anxiety reported among college students, the goal of this project is to positively impact the well-being of Latinx youth in California, refugees in Kampala, Uganda and UC San Diego students,” said Bintliff. “Through co-design and implementation of the Wellbeing Club art and mindfulness-based curriculum, youth, college students and adults simultaneously learn wellbeing strategies from one another.”

Alexander Fattal | Communication

Alexander Fattal
  • Project Title: Visual Storytelling: Sharing Reflections on the Pandemic Across San Diego
  • Community Partner: The AjA Project
  • Project Description: The COMM 190 course has been re-designed for remote instruction, teaching students about first-person documentary and the production of short photo and video-based narratives. Through COMM 190, Fattal will bring together students with participants and teaching artists from the AjA Project, a media arts non-profit based in City Heights. Through the creation of audio-visual works that allow participants to reflect on the impact of Covid-19, this project aims to connect personal and social explorations to build community and solidarity across San Diego.
  • Impact: “There’s power in visual storytelling. My Changemaker project brings AjA teaching artists into my junior seminar ‘Covid-19 Photo-Diaries’ to stimulate my students to be more socially conscious in telling their own story about their pandemic experience,” said Fattal. “The goal is to foster an exchange so that both AjA students and UC San Diego students gain a new perspective on the way coronavirus is deepening social inequality in San Diego.”

Mariko Cavey, Clarissa Reese and Farrell Ackerman | Human Developmental Sciences

Mariko Cavey, Clarissa Reese and Farrell Ackerman
  • Project Title: Integrating Social Justice Perspectives in Responsive Community Engagement
  • Community Partners: San Diego-based public service sites, within: medical/clinical centers (e.g. Rady Children’s Hospital; Select Physical Therapy), PK-12 education programs (e.g. Early Childhood Education Center; The Preuss School UC San Diego), and social services organizations (e.g. San Diego Youth Services; Serving Seniors)
  • Project Description: Through the Human Development Sciences field research experience course, this project will foster deeper learning towards building explicit intentions and outcomes to grow collective consciousness around community-engaged projects from a social justice lens. Cavey, Reese and Ackerman envision adapting the course to flexibly accommodate remote instruction when needed. Project goals include building a deeper understanding of the social justice visions and identifying how students can best collaborate with community partners amid the effects of the pandemic and current uprisings for racial justice.
  • Impact: “This program enabled us to reconceptualize our signature field research course, which focuses on reciprocal engagement with community sites and supports students’ transitions from college to careers,” said Cavey. “We’re exploring how social justice theory and practice can be better incorporated into the course to benefit students, field sites and UC San Diego. This will shape students’ career readiness experiences while fostering lasting partnerships, impacting university-community relations.”

Maziar Ghazinejad | Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Maziar Ghazinejad
  • Project Title: Community-Driven Approach to Enhance Participation in STEM Fields
  • Community Partners: UC San Diego student organizations and IDEA Engineering Center
  • Project Description: The multidisciplinary initiative seeks to engage with the peer educators and student leaders in student organizations to organize a community-based learning initiative. Among the project focuses include conveying the beauty and community benefits of STEM fields, demonstrating proper learning techniques for first-time learners, and delivering the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental and societal context. Ghazinejad also proposes to engage Jacobs School of Engineering student organizations to develop and share community-driven learning practices for engineering design.
  • Impact: “This changemaker initiative seeks to develop pedagogical approaches that embrace the connection of STEM topics with learners’ communities and present these fields within the broader picture of the society," said Ghazinejad. "Our vision for this collaborative effort is to demonstrate the mutual influences of STEM fields and humanities and their connectivity to our community."

Simeon Man, Yến Lê Espiritu, Luis Alvarez, Cristela Garcia-Spitz and Alanna Aiko Moore | History, Ethnic Studies and UC San Diego Library

Simeon Man, Yen Le Espiritu, Luis Alvarez, Cristela Garcia-Spitz and Alanna Aiko Moore
  • Project Title: The Race and Oral History Project
  • Community Partners: United Women of East Africa, Refugee Health Unit | UC San Diego Center for Community Health, Allies to End Detention, American Friends Service Committee—US-Mexico Border Program, Barrio Logan College Institute, and Casa Familiar
  • Project Description: The project seeks to curate an oral history collection that documents the experiences, perspectives and memories of understudied racial and ethnic communities in San Diego. The oral collection, which will be preserved at the UC San Diego Library, will serve as a repository that safeguards the life stories of ordinary people, leaving an important legacy for future generations. Alongside producing a public archive that makes these stories widely available and accessible, the project enables students to learn to conduct community‐based research and develop public and digital humanities skills.
  • Impact: “The Race and Oral History Project is a collaboration of UC San Diego students, faculty, librarians and community-based grassroots organizations dedicated to documenting and sharing the stories of understudied racial and ethnic communities in San Diego,” said Man. “We train students in oral history methods and practice, and we emphasize ethical ways of working with BIPOC communities that are not extractive and instead prioritize the slow work of building trust and a truly collaborative relationship.”

Lisa Porter and Matthew Herbst | Theatre and Dance and Making of the Modern World

Lisa Porter and Matthew Herbst
  • Project Title: Disability, Inclusion, Advocacy: Performing Arts and Community Impact
  • Community Partners: Arc of San Diego, La Jolla Playhouse and other partners to be announced
  • Project Description: Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Porter and Herbst will teach a large-enrollment course in Sixth College’s Culture, Art, and Technology program. This cross-disciplinary collaboration combines perspectives from history and the performing arts and includes engagement with local, national and global disability advocates. With experiential engagement as a core component of the initiative, the fellows will facilitate accessible and sensory-welcoming activities for community members through partnerships with local disability-centered and performing arts organizations.
  • Impact: “Disability is an aspect of human diversity, which is the cornerstone of our project,” said Herbst. “We are inspired by the work of disability advocates and explore this topic through the disciplines of history and the performing arts, centering our inquiry on civil and human rights and connecting students with local, national and global disability leaders who champion efforts for true inclusion.”

As part of UC San Diego’s effort to equip its student community to become the next generation of global leaders, the Changemaker Faculty Fellows program aims to support the faculty who are furthering social innovation and changemaking through community engaged learning. To learn more about the Changemaker Faculty Fellows Program and other changemaker initiatives, please visit the Changemaker Institute website.