2019 Awardees


Winning Student Proposals

Learning How to Learn: Engaging the Next Generation of Students in the Classroom and Beyond with Strategies for Life-Long Learning by Brandon Hoenig (biology Ph.D. program)

This submission proposes a module-based course dealing with the dependence on technology by our future generations of students. The course proposes modules to educate the students on how to learn in a technology-based environment. The course will use critical thinking to discern what is true in an information intensive environment and provide a basis for an educated lifelong learner. The course proposes that students build on portfolios from prior students to ensure the course is evolving with the changes in technology. The course also proposes a service component in which, upon completion of the course, Duquesne students train high school students in their newly acquired skills.

A New Social Media Site for Environmental Responsibility, by Sneha Hoysala (environmental science), Meredith Bennett (chemistry) and Kristin Klucevsek (English)

This entry proposed a new campus-wide social media site, targeting environmental responsibility, to allow students to voice their concerns about environmental issues and to suggest change. The site would provide scientific information in an understandable fashion with a focus on Duquesne and motivate students to make sound decisions with regard to our campus and home environment. The site would notify students of new Duquesne initiatives, allow students to express concerns and create a culture of environmental awareness and change. The site would be internal to Duquesne and its students.

The New Maxim: A Guide for Young Ships Without Sails. Coping with Suicide and Depression for Current and Future Generations, by Danny Wade (Senior student- December graduation)

Mental health and wellness have become major issues of concern for modern generations of students. The proposed course would train counselors to work across and within various disciplines by exposing them to multiple programs offered at Duquesne. Programs such as pharmacy, nursing, school psychology, teaching, school administration, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and law are all newer arenas in which counselors may find themselves practicing and coordinating services. The proposed course would assist our future counselors in developing a deeper understanding of other fields in which they might practice, as well as help them to broaden their systems-of-care approach to the work. Further, this course could serve as the foundation for an interdisciplinary collaboration between the various professional training programs at Duquesne that involve extensive human interaction. Topics such as ethics of care, vicarious reactions to trauma, attending and listening skills, clinical assessment, and self-care are intrinsic knowledge from which all human serving professionals could benefit. Integrating traditional “counseling” content among programs could provide an opportunity for enhanced learning as a result of a wider lens. Additionally, the potential to eliminate redundancy of course work between programs may be of benefit to the fiscal position of these programs and the university.

Refreshing and Assessing the Duquesne Mission in the University Core Curriculum (Intro to Spiritan Ethos), by Michelle Blohm, M.A. (graduate student)

This proposal was submitted by a graduate student in the McAnulty College, to create a course called “Introduction to the Spiritan Ethos.” She notes that more than ever, current Duquesne students need to see the relevance of their education for their career choices. Among other things, students are looking for moral leadership on issues of social justice. This course would introduce students to the characteristics of professionalism according to the Catholic Spiritan mission of the University. It would advance missional discipline-specific learning objectives, and perhaps lead to the creation of a minor in Spiritan Studies. Additionally, this course could include mentorship by advanced Duquesne professionals. For example, a doctoral nursing student might discuss how the Spiritan charism enriches her nursing practice; a senior marketing major or marketing instructor might discuss how his or her work with a non-profit community partner enables him or her to walk with those on the margins; or a liberal arts instructor might discuss how the Spiritan charism impacts his or her research interests. Such a course would provide a common intellectual experience. It would also provide an excellent tool for showcasing to Duquesne students the University’s commitment to faith, ethics and community engagement as elements of its unique mission as the only Catholic Spiritan university in the United States.

Collaborative Innovation Workshop, by Nicole Lucente (physical therapy) and Delaney Batik (occupational therapy)

This submission proposes a class to be included in Biomedical Engineering and all Health Sciences programs. The class will be a hands-on workshop for students to participate in interdisciplinary teams and develop solutions to cutting-edge health care problems that face society. Students will identify a need, develop a solution, and if possible develop a prototype. Students will have an opportunity to gain skills in disciplines other than their major and be part of a development team, consistent with the new way of learning favored by Millenials and Generation Z students. Class projects can be suggested from any source (Office of Veteran Affairs was suggested) and can provide a real-world learning environment.

Prosthetics: 3D Modeling with Patient Implementation, by Jacob Bernardinelli (biomedical engineering), Willa Potosnak (biomedical engineering) and Amanda Seidl (occupational therapy)

This entry proposed a course to address the needs of disabled patients in modern society by allowing teams of students to develop prosthetics and assistive technology. Like the innovative workshop proposal, this course would promote multidisciplinary teams of students to work with patients to identify needs and develop new devices. This course had a greater focus on engineering solutions. It would provide an opportunity for students outside of the engineering disciplines to learn new skills in a world that is increasingly multi-disciplinary for graduates. The course includes a community component where students would work to develop devices for needs based patients in the community.

Duquesne STEPs: Short-Term Exploration Program for Students, by Brittney Lybarger (communications)

This project will create a clearinghouse for internships and work experience to meet the needs of modern-day students who are limited in funds, transportation, or who may have difficulty completing an internship while a student at Duquesne. Increasingly, internships and practical experiences are a vital component for new generations of students. This project would develop funding and organization to be an intermediate between students seeking internships and external organizations providing them.

Animal-Assisted Intervention Studies, by Dr. Kathleen Kocherzat (graduate Ph.D. student)

Today’s students and young people increasingly see the benefit of using animals—e.g.  service dogs for veterans, therapy dogs for students with emotional challenges—as a means to assist in ameliorating challenges on campus and in the work place. The current proposal supports creating a new academic program minor (or at least a class) at Duquesne University in Animal Assisted Intervention Studies. This minor (or course) would use an interdisciplinary approach to offer students an opportunity to learn how to apply Animal-Assisted Interventions to careers in healthcare, psychology, education and even law. The current proposal is inspired by the cutting-edge Animal Assisted Intervention program at Slippery Rock University. Slippery Rock is currently the only school to offer such a unique program as a minor. Faculty at that school report that it is the most popular minor on campus.

Winning Faculty Proposals

Interprofessional Roundtables: Innovating Solutions to Contemporary Mental Health Challenges and Social Injustice, by Cathleen Appelt (sociology), Meghan Blakowitz (occupational therapy), Ann Stuart (occupational therapy), Bridget Calhoun (physician assistant), Jordan Covvey (pharmacy), Jessica Devido (nursing), Tammy Hughes (education), Rachel Kallem Whitman (psychology), Andrew Simpson (history) and Tiffany Sizemore (law)

This submission proposed eight to 10 sessions throughout the academic year to present the unique social, health, and care involved with mental health issues facing current generations of students. Sessions would deal with both discussions by professionals as well as personal experiences from community members. The proposal would provide for a “Risk Identification and Resource Toolkit” focusing on mental health which would be provided to Duquesne and community participants. Students would increase awareness of mental health issues that face Millennials and Gen Z students and be encouraged to discuss mental health and become agents of change.

Solving Real-World Problems Using Agent-Based Modeling, by Rachel Miller Neilan (Mathematics)

This entry proposes a new course on “agent-based” computer modeling as a way to solve problems important to society. Agent-based models are computational models that simulate the actions and interactions of individuals and their environment. The course would be cross-listed in multiple departments and would require minimal prerequisites. It would bring together students from mathematics and non-mathematic disciplines to work on problems, develop and use agent-based models to study complex systems like spread of disease, traffic patterns, financial markets, environmental issues. This course represents a starting point for all students in a new generation to learn about tools used to understand systems and to analyze big-data.

Writing and Intellectual Property: Textual Appreciation and Appropriation in a Digital World, by James Purdy (English/writing studies)

Increasingly, students are aware that protecting and preserving digital work-product is as important as protecting rights in tangible property was in generations. This proposal is for a course dealing with the intellectual property surrounding written and digital materials. It deals with not only the protection of one’s own writing but also, the use of written and digital material in a digital world. The course would include IP Law, the economics of IP, policy and personal identity. The course would prepare students across disciplines to work in an increasingly complex digital world.

Health Inequalities, Professional Preparation, and the Pittsburgh Region: A Multidisciplinary, Community-Engaged Course to Prepare Generation Z for the Future, by Cathleen Appelt (sociology), Jessica Devido (nursing) and Andrew Simpson (history)

This entry proposes a Community-Engaged course dealing with the disparities in employment in the health-care industry that are becoming evident in a new technologically-driven era. Pittsburgh is a region dominated by health care organizations. Many of our graduates and fellow community members will find employment in these organizations and will need to understand the social context of health-care in order to be successful in their careers. The course will work with community partners to provide a solution for a critical health or health-care employment issue. Students will improve their understanding of the industry and will have a defined set of research and communication skills they can highlight when applying for jobs.

A Mobile Clinic and Makerspace, by Richard Simpson (occupational therapy), Regina Harbourne (physical therapy) and Patrick Cooper (physics)

This proposes a mobile clinic and makerspace (or working space) that supports community-based activities for students and faculty across multiple departments. An on-campus clinic or makerspace is physically removed from the underserved populations who most need assistance. Instead, they propose a van that can provide power, wi-fi, storage, and work surfaces to support a range of educational, scientific, and clinical activities. Activity-specific equipment will be loaded into the van as needed to allow students to provide STEM education to K-12 students, collect data and conduct experiments in situ, or provide clinical services. This cutting-edge approach is directly consistent with the way students today think, learn, and share their knowledge with others.

Interprofessional Collaboration 101: Preparing Students to Reimagine Health Care, by Elena Donoso Brown (occupational therapy) and Sarah Wallace (speech-language pathology), with occupational therapy students Natalie Falcione, Jenna Gallipoli, Fiona Kessler and Rachel Tokarski

Modern health care is evolving in a way that college graduates today and in the future will increasingly need skills that cross professional boundaries, encompassing nursing, health science, pharmacy, biomedical ethics and other disciplines. This submission proposes a course on Inter-professional education in the healthcare disciplines. It recognizes that interdisciplinary teams need to work together to best care for their patients. The course was problem-based and crossed the clinical disciplines at Duquesne. The course also addressed the need to understand roles of different professions when addressing health care problems. It integrated ethics and values as components of solving health problems. This course would fill a need to familiarize students in the healthcare professions to understand inter-professional teams as part of their pre-career training.

Community-Based Research & Development: A Cross-Sector, Inter-disciplinary and Inter-Generational Program, by Norm Conti (sociology), Rick McCown (educational foundations and Leadership), et al.

This proposal was submitted by Duquesne faculty, students and community partners from the Elsinore-Bennu Think Tank for Restorative Justice, a cross-sector partnership that convenes at Duquesne. They are proposing a new interdisciplinary learning program that would be geared toward new generations of students, who are increasingly interested in cross-sector, community-based research and development. The program comprises of a set of learning experiences to build competencies in designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating community-based improvement efforts. The co-learners in the program would be undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members from across the university as well as Duquesne’s community partners. For students and community partners, successful demonstration of the competencies through applied learning and assessment–including performance assessment–would result in the award of a certificate in Community-Based Research & Development. Students in any school or major–undergraduate or graduate–would be eligible to earn a certificate (certificates would specify the level of competency and thus afford both novice and advanced students to participate). Community partners who successfully demonstrate the same competencies would receive the same certificate and have their competence documented through our University.

Counseling in Integrated Systems of Care: An initial Course to Establish a Foundation for an Interdisciplinary Sequence for Programs in the Helping Professions, by Debra Hyatt-Burkhart (counseling, psychology and special education)

Mental health counseling has typically been viewed as a stand-alone service that focuses on an individual’s internal processes. As the field of counseling has evolved, and as new generations of students are increasingly in need of mental health services, research has revealed the value of a systemic approach to the emotional distress that humans experience. Coupled with a systemic view of the etiology of psychological distress and mental illness, the field has recognized the increased success of mental health counseling that is practiced in integrated systems of care. The proposed course would train counselors to work across and within various disciplines by exposing them to multiple programs offered at Duquesne. Programs such as pharmacy, nursing, school psychology, teaching, school administration, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and law are all newer arenas in which counselors may find themselves practicing and coordinating services. The proposed course would assist our future counselors in developing a deeper understanding of other fields in which they might practice, as well as helping them to broaden their systems-of-care approach to the work given the needs of new generations of students. Further, this course could serve as the foundation for an interdisciplinary collaboration between the various professional training programs at Duquesne that involve extensive human interaction. Topics such as ethics of care, vicarious reactions to trauma, attending and listening skills, clinical assessment, and self-care are intrinsic knowledge from which all human serving professionals could benefit. Additionally, the potential to eliminate redundancy of course work between programs may be of benefit to the fiscal position of these programs and the university