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Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning

Community of Practice Grant

The Center for Integrative and Experiential Learning invites proposals to join the Integrative and Experiential Learning (IEL) Faculty/Staff Community of Practice (CoP). CoP members will develop or revise a course or program that provides students with the opportunity to engage beyond the classroom and reflect on how that engagement connects with their personal, academic, and career goals. Priority will be given to proposals that propel the goals of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), including engaging more students beyond the classroom and encouraging reflection on those engagements, and that impact QEP target populations (Pell-eligible, transfer, underrepresented minority, and male students).  

Application Deadline: November 1, 2024



$5000 (does not include summer salary for faculty)

Purpose of the Community of Practice  

Grant recipients will be part of a Community of Practice (CoP) cohort that meets regularly to collaborate and support each other, share knowledge on issues of practice with integrative and experiential learning (IEL), and cultivate dialogue that identifies unexplored possibilities and generates new ideas to increase student engagement. CoP meetings provide the time and space for members to share plans and progress, receive feedback, and seek community-based solutions to challenging problems with their project. The CoP includes both faculty and staff so that, in addition to implementing IEL projects and learning more about IEL practices, members can also learn more about each other’s respective departments, offices, and programs and how they support students at USC. The CoP facilitates diverse networking opportunities across its membership with the potential for long-term collaboration, scholarship, and publication. 


Full-time faculty and staff at USC Columbia, and full-time faculty involved in 4-year programs at Palmetto College Campuses

How to Apply

Applications must include a:

  • Completed Grant Proposal Cover Sheet (template provided here)
  • Budget and Budget Justification (template provided here)
  • 2-4 page Project Description (prompts provided here)
  • 1-2 page resume or biographical sketch

Please submit applications as a single PDF file to the CIEL Experiential Learning Coordinator at;, (deadline TBD). 


Complete grant details are available in PDF from

Grants are competitive. Proposals will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Completeness of the application and conformance to these guidelines  
  • Reasonableness of the budget (up to a total request of $5000, see allowable costs below) 
  • Potential for project to increase opportunities for beyond the classroom experiences for all students and particularly for target populations of Pell-eligible, transfer, underrepresented minority, and male students 
  • Produce results that impact student learning and help students make connections across experiences 
  • Feasibility of completing the project in the time proposed and with the funds available 
  • Potential to sustain the integrative and experiential learning experiences beyond the grant period 

Funds should ideally be utilized in a way that allows for program continuation via department or external funding after the 18-month grant cycle. Allowable budget items include: 

  • Personnel (does NOT include summer salary for faculty)
  • Materials for program development, marketing/recruitment, and implementation
  • Transportation and/or lodging for BTC experiences
  • Community partnership costs and/or guest speaker honorariums
  • Wages for student employees, interns, or research assistants
  • Supplies for adapting physical spaces
  • Technology required to meet learning outcomes
  • Allocation of scholarships for participating students
  • Other items that support the development, implementation and assessment of IEL program 
  • Serve a 1 ½ calendar year term in the CoP cohort
  • Complete an integrative and experiential learning (IEL) project
  • Participate in monthly meetings
  • Submit student artifacts by April 15 of your final semester
  • Submit a final report by May 31 of your final semester 
  • Assistance with course/program design, assessment strategies, and student reflection resources  
  • Assistance identifying relevant partners and structures that foster meaningful IEL connections
  • Networking opportunities with the potential for collaboration, scholarship and publication

Pooyan Jamshidi Dermani, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering and Computing, Dept of Computer Science and Engineering

Competitive Gamecock Robotics Club
Gamecock Robotics is a student organization that participates in the VEX Robotics league, where a new game is given out to students each year for which the team must build robots for competitions against other schools. Students on the team take part in multiple activities such as designing, modeling, building, programming, and documenting their processes. Students then compete in tournaments against other universities in robot-based challenges (head-to-head matches, skills challenges) and design challenges (interview and engineering notebook). The program is open to anyone looking to innovate, learn more about STEM, and be a part of a team made up of determined and hardworking students.


Ambra Hiott, Director of the Leadership and Service Center

Student Life Professional Peers
The Student Life Professional Peers program will prepare students to:  

  • Connect with fellow student leaders and employees across the Department of Student Life through unified onboarding and training sessions grounded in leadership development 
  • Reflect on their experiences and articulate how their learned skills translate to their future career goals 
  • Effectively communicate the Student Life experience and involvement opportunities for students at USC through coaching sessions, presentations, tabling, and media  


Rebecca Janzen, Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature, Director of Graduate Studies

SPAN 375 - Special Topics in Spanish - Human Rights
This is a special topics class for students interested in Spanish. It will serve as a pilot for a way to introduce students to issues relating to the Spanish language and the law – including immigration and pretrial detention. There will be an experiential learning component and reflection-based assignments.


Grace Kazmierski, Assistant Director for Student Engagement, Office of Sustainability
Kimberly Seibles, Associate Director of Diversity and Social Justice Education, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

Environmental Justice Series
The goal of the Environmental Justice Series is to educate the USC community on environmental injustices and how those injustices impact the USC and Columbia community. A collaboration between the Office of Sustainability and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, this series of events will include guest speakers, tours of Historic Columbia, and more, planned by student leaders. We hope to not only educate our community but provide our participants with intercultural knowledge and agency to combat issues of power, privilege, leadership, economic injustice, and public problem solving (Ash & Clayton, 2009). 


Melissa Reitmeyer, Director of Field Education, Clinical Associate Professor, College of Social Work
Adam Englert, Staff, College of Social Work

SOWK 481 - Learning Enhancement Lab
The Living Learning Lab targets enhancement of generalist social work practice skills, which promote mastery of CSWE EPAS competencies explicitly stated for social work generalist practice. The proposed learning enhancement lab will include six modules: introduction to professional judgment for social work practice, four step components, and then a final reflection requiring the student to demonstrate their application, synthesis and learning in the form of conclusions and assessment. 


Jeffrey Williams, Instructor, College of Information and Communication, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

JOUR 595 - Maymester at the Circus
The objective of this project will be to create a short pilot film about the Maymester at the Circus course and how this beyond the classroom experience provides a richer learning experience due to the environment and immersion available. The hope is that this film will generate more excitement for students and faculty through experiential learning.  

Jessica Elfenbein, Professor and Chair, Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences 
“Wood Basket of the World:” Lumbering, Manufacturing and Conserving South Carolina’s Forests 
This project encompasses a range of research and experiential opportunities for USC’s students centering on the region’s rich history of lumbering, manufacturing and conserving forests.  Through the development and revision of five History courses -- four undergraduate (two Honors College) and one graduate -- by Fall 2024 this work will directly touch more than 125 students, allowing them to engage with community partners inside and beyond the classroom. This project features partnerships with Palmetto College and USC Sumter as well as community-serving non-profits including the Sumter Development Board/The Link, the Sumter Museum, Friends of Congaree Swamp, South Carolina Audubon, and others. 
Melanie Palomares, Instructor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences 
PSYC 495 - AToP:  Assistantship in Teaching of Psychology 
Assistantship in Teaching of Psychology (AToP) is an undergraduate service-learning class focused on teaching assistantships in the Psychology Department.  AToP builds a community of peer learners and teachers in order to bridge the communication gaps between undergraduate students and instructors, foster growth in leadership skills and to increase content learning.   
Stephanie Nace, Associate Professor and Studio Art Program Coordinator, School of Visual Art and Design 
ARTS 550: Graphic Design and Illustration Program –                          Community Mentorship                                                                                           
The new Design Studio start up was funded by the McCausland Grant and is striving to be a center for community outreach. The Design Studio will work with university clients as well as paying and pro bono clients in the surroundingColumbia area. This proposed project would work with the USC’s Office of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI), students of the School of Visual Art and Design’s (SVAD) Graphic Design and Illustration Program (GD+I) and Midlands Technical College and/or Lexington 2 school district’s graphics class. It will be a pipeline for K-12 students to understand graphic design as it applies to the real world. The students enrolled in the ARTS 550 Design studio class will be the mentors to the high school designers. 

Charles Schumpert, Instructional Faculty, Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences 


Resurrecting BIOL 498: An Introduction to Biological Research as a CURE 

We created a Course Based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) to enhance biology major's access to experience in biological research. Studies have demonstrated students who engage in STEM research have enhanced graduation rates and a greater sense of belonging. Our first iteration of the course includes an exploration of mechanisms of molecular aging in the model system of Daphnia (a small freshwater crustacean). Students will be the drivers of novel research and produce authentic products including: a research proposal, scientific poster, and a manuscript for publication.  


Kelly Goldberg, Professor Track Instructional Faculty, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences 


Public Heritage Lab 

The newly founded Public Heritage Lab was supported by a McCausland Innovation Fund grant and seeks to increase access to archaeological and cultural heritage resources through the use of digital technologies. This CoP project is supporting undergraduate students working with K12 educators and students to incorporate virtual and 3D copies of archaeological artifacts into social science curriculum, with a particular emphasis on material culture associated with populations frequently underrepresented in American historical narratives. 


Loren Tharp, Instructor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences 


PSYC 495: USC At-Promise Youth Mentors 

This program partners USC students with the Richland County Sheriff's department, Sheriff Lott’s staff, and local middle school and high school students.  Students meet weekly at the At-Risk Youth Unit located in the sub-station for RCSD. The program utilizes department resources and their vast experience in learning how to be effective mentors.  We follow a gradual release of responsibility model in that our student mentors will first learn from these officers, then sit in on student mentoring meetings with RCSD staff, then utilize their skills in working directly with mentees and their parents. In the first semester students will dissect career connections and begin their work with this demographic, including how to navigate parental support, and strategies for prevention measures with at-promise youth. 


Jason DeBacker, Associate Professor, Economics, Darla Moore School of Business 

Jeremy Polley, Coordinator and Instructor of Music Industry Studies, School of Music

Concert Planning, Promotion, and Production

Alexandria Reynolds, Undergraduate Program DIrector and Instructor, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences 

Pyschology of Sleep Advanced Lab Course

Brandi Anderson, Director of the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute and Director of Innovative ACCESS (Access, Culture, Community Engagement, and Student Success), College of Social Work

Leaders of Tomorrow: Community Scholars Program

Trey Franklin, Director of the W. G. Belser Arboretum, Instructional Faculty, and Laboratory Coordinator, Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences 

Exploring Career Pathways Through Urban Herpetology


Kat James, Assistant Director for Gamecock Recovery, Substance Abuse Prevention and Education


Expanded Recovery Ally Workshops


Bri Newton, Assistant Director for LGBTQ Education, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs


LGBTQIA+ Alternative Break Trip


Ashley Byrd-White, Director for Experiential Learning & Student Engagement and University Programs Instructor, Office of Undergraduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences

SC State Agency and Internship and Career Fair


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.