College of Health and Human Services Faculty Receive Curriculum Impact Grants to Create High-Impact Learning Experiences

Transdisciplinary grants will support curriculum in areas such as physical activity, social justice, STEM in society, and global health challenges.

Recently, George Mason University’s Faculty and Curricular Activities committee funded eight projects from more than 20 submissions. The committee focused on proposals that would help prepare students to make a substantive impact on the world and deepen their engagement with Mason and their communities.

Themes related to global health, chronic conditions, cultural competencies, critical thinking, and health equity were found in many of the selected proposals.  As evidence of the College’s commitment to transdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of health in all aspects of life, three of the eight projects selected include faculty from the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). The following are brief descriptions of the funded proposals that include faculty from the College.

Physical Activity in Health

CHHS faculty Drs. Ali Weinstein and Laura Poms will collaborate with Dr. Charles Robison (College of Education and Human Development) to develop curriculum that studies the intersection of physical activity and public health, including the theory, discipline and practice of kinesiology at the public health level. The curriculum seeks to equip students with skills to combat the increasing rate of obesity in the United States and associated chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes by increasing physical activity. The cross-disciplinary collaboration will fill a curricular gap that exists at Mason and also provide students with a credential that will enhance their career development. By creating these new academic programs, the intent is to create a capstone course that allows students to integrate content knowledge in physical activity in public health with skills of policy and advocacy.

From Exploring Pathways to Developing Opportunities for Community Engagement and Social Justice in an Interprofessional Micro-Credential Program

CHHS faculty Drs. Caroline Sutter and Molly Davis will collaborate with Drs. Carrie Bonilla, Ellen Serafini, and Esperanza Román-Mendoza (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) to develop an interprofessional micro-credential program that addresses health disparities and social inequities experienced by ethnic and linguistic minority communities in the United States. The curriculum will prepare Mason students to serve the health care and social service needs of Spanish-speaking immigrant communities and provide students with opportunities to engage and interact with multiple community stakeholders. The program will be designed and delivered in a hybrid (online/face-to-face) format with affordability and flexibility for students as core considerations and integrate principles of interprofessional education and practice.

STEM in Society Minor

Dr. Laura Poms will collaborate with Drs. Vita Chalk, Larrie Ferreiro, Brian Platt, Cortney Hughes Rinker (CHSS); Padmanabhan Seshaiyer (College of Science); and Kamaljeet Sanghera (Volgenau School of Engineering), to develop a STEM in Society minor, which will help students in diverse majors across Mason, both technical and non-technical, develop strategic and critical thinking capabilities to better understand how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as medicine, impact the human experience. Completing the minor will give students a broad perspective of how STEM fields fit into the wider context of society and culture. The curriculum will develop skills employers are looking for, including strategic and critical thinking about STEM (and medicine) and its role in societies and cultures.

Enhancing Cross-Cultural Engagement and Collaboration at Mason through Explorations of Global Health Challenges

Drs. Megumi Inoue and Laura Poms will collaborate with Drs. Andrew Lee (Mason Libraries), Cortney Hughes Rinker, Michael Smith, Steven Anthony Scott (CHSS) to develop curriculum that fosters cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary dialogues about global health challenges such as vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, increasing rates of obesity and drug addiction, the impacts of environmental pollution and climate change on health, and aging populations. Public health, anthropology, and history—in addition to other fields in the social sciences and humanities—examine health challenges and help to bring the different types of suffering that people experience to light. The main objective is to engage students in cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary dialogues about global health problems at Mason by designing a course module that integrates students from INTO Mason, CHSS, and CHHS. Courses developed as part of this curriculum will equip students with the skills and cultural competencies needed to research and work on national and global health issues and will focus on non-medical solutions to address these global health challenges.