Call for Proposals – New Ampersand Course Innovation Grants

The College of Arts & Sciences and Ampersand and First-Year Programs are looking for proposals for new Ampersand programs. Ampersand programs are small, multi-semester innovative courses designed to engage first-year students in the exciting work of the university – creating new knowledge. In addition to providing in-depth focus on a topic or cluster of topics within a seminar-style environment, most Ampersand programs offer unique opportunities for first-year students, such as international and domestic travel, research, and community engagement. Ampersand’s co-curricular programming is supported by the College of Arts & Sciences, which is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of financial means, can participate fully in the rich offerings of these enriching programs. (See below for more on Ampersand and the College’s support for these programs.)

Because Ampersand programs are highly impactful academic experiences for first-year students that get them excited about their coursework and increase their sense of belonging, the College of Arts & Sciences is looking to increase its slate of these innovative curricular programs so that every student has the opportunity to enroll in one. To that end, we are providing competitive course innovation grants to A&S instructors proposing new Ampersand programs. We are looking for programs that challenge students to think critically about themselves as well as the world around them, that inspire them to learn about people, places, and cultures that are new to them, and that engage them in experiential learning beyond the classroom walls.  

We particularly seek programs that:

  • engage first-year students in international travel with the goal of increasing awareness of the inherent benefits of study abroad opportunities;
  • integrate community knowledge for students as a pathway to deeper community-engaged learning;
  • develop intercultural competence;
  • foreground inquiry into issues of justice, ethics, diversity, and equity; or e) engage in substantive ways with pressing contemporary societal or environmental issues.

Programs in all Arts & Sciences disciplines are welcome, but we are particularly interested in increasing its slate of programs in the social sciences and humanistic social sciences.


All full-time tenured, tenure-track, or teaching-track instructors in Arts & Sciences are eligible to apply. Participation of two or more faculty is required for Ampersand programs. We welcome a variety of co-teaching models and appreciate and collaboration across departments and programs.

Grant Amount

Chosen proposals will receive grants of up to $7,500 for developing a new Ampersand program. Funds can be spent on instructional and teaching materials, such as books, apps, and software; pay for research assistants to find, curate, and create relevant materials; and support approved collaborative activities between teaching partners. All expenses should be reasonable and directly related to the activities that will be conducted as part of the course. Funds may not be used for local meals, entertainment, or alcohol purchases. Further support is available from the A&S Director of Curricular Innovation, First-Year Programs, and the Center for Teaching and Learning in designing the program.

Application Requirements

Applicants should submit a one- to two-page proposal that outlines the following: program theme, interested program faculty, learning objectives or course goals, list of specific program classes that will be offered for first-year students (both Fall and Spring semesters), a plan for extra- and co-curricular experiences for the program, and a budget. Please submit your proposal via this online webform.

Selection Criteria

Supported applications will foreground pedagogical innovation and co-curricular or experiential learning opportunities. Selection process will include discussion of course viability with relevant department chairs or program directors; instructors should therefore communicate with all relevant parties prior to submission.

Course Innovation Grants are due November 10th. Decisions will be communicated by December 1.

Not sure your idea is fully baked? Have an idea but would need some additional collaborators? Not a problem! Come to the happy hour discussion on Ampersand Programs and meet with other interested parties. We will offer two casual gatherings in Cupples II, room 102, to discuss ideas: Thursday September 28th from 4-5pm and Monday, October 23rd from 3-4pm.  We are happy to workshop ideas and anticipate offering future calls for additional proposals. Reach out to Trevor Sangrey with questions or for further information. 

Brainstorming Sessions

Join us for a casual gathering in Cupples II, room 102, to discuss ideas: Thursday September 28th from 4-5 p.m. and Monday, October 23rd from 3-4 p.m.

More on Ampersand Courses

What are Ampersand Programs?

  • Multi-semester, small (up to 25 students), discussion-based/interactive classes (the typical Ampersand program includes a Fall course and a Spring course)
  • Programs that may include travel and opportunities to conduct research under faculty mentorship
  • Programs that may be offered every year, every-other year, or intermittently

Why offer an Ampersand Program?

  • Benefits for students:
    • Linked courses about a particular topic or cluster of topics offer students rigorous academic inquiry sustained over an entire year as well as an early opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with faculty.
    • Programs offer opportunity to travel or to deepen learning through off-campus experiences.
    • Completing an Ampersand program fulfills an Arts & Sciences Integration (degree requirement).
  • Benefits for faculty/departments:
    • Programs create a small classroom environment, dedicated students, the opportunity to extend learning outside of the classroom, and a chance to engage first-year students in topic-driven coursework.
    • Courses introduce departments/programs to entering students and present an opportunity to recruit majors/minors.
    • Programs are considered service to the College of Arts & Sciences.

International and Domestic Travel

  • The College Office offers support for planning, budgeting, and necessary paperwork for approved travel components to Ampersand programs.
  • Depending on their length and design, most study trips allow students to earn an additional 1-credit upon completion of the travel portion. 
  • All travel must include at minimum two faculty/staff. The College Office covers the travel expenses of the two approved WU faculty/staff traveling.
  • Enrolled students receive need-based financial support from the College Office as determined by Student Financial Services. We are committed to making sure all students can participate in Ampersand programs!

Ampersand Program models

  • Traditional: Two seminar classes, one in the Fall and one in the Spring semester.  May be co-taught and/or offered through different departments or programs. 
  • Introductory course/seminar model: Students take a regularly-offered introductory course in the first semester (ideally with a cohort-specific section or subsection) followed by a cohort-specific seminar in the second semester. 
  • Innovative or alternative models are considered.
  • Programs can run every year, every other year, or intermittently.

(Download an accessible version of the Ampersand Program Models chart)

Submit your application.

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