The Excellence Fund for Learning and Teaching Innovation
Rewarding excellence and promoting courageous and innovative ideas in research and teaching
Find out more
The College’s Strategy 2015-20 encourages Imperial to act courageously and innovatively when pursuing new opportunities.
The President, Professor Alice Gast, has dedicated one million pounds per year to reward excellence, while promoting courageous and innovative ideas in research and teaching.
Half of this has established the new Excellence Fund for Learning and Teaching Innovation which will be used to support educational initiatives that will challenge our students to fulfil their potential. Those receiving funds will help to form a community of excellent and innovative teachers who will play a key role in promoting good practice and helping the College to deliver a world-class educational experience for all of our students. This funding is designed to give our staff the time and space to be bold, to take risks, to investigate and to learn. You can read about the six successful projects which were funded in the Fund’s first year in this article.
Second annual call
In this second annual call, funds will be awarded to support projects which stimulate the development of more inclusive learning and teaching, with a focus on the development of inclusive curriculum content.
This might include, for example, development of the following strengths:
- the content, methodological techniques and processes taught in your programme enable a diverse range of students to answer the questions and solve the problems that are of interest to them and that are of particular relevance to them because of their gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation or other protected characteristic. For instance in medical engineering it is important to ask whether health apps have features that are relevant to both men and women.
- your curriculum is informed by different social and cultural perspectives. As a first step, the curriculum should not include examples, case studies or instruction topics that can be construed as sexist, racist or are in other ways discriminatory, unless these examples are part of the pedagogy and serve as reminders of how to do better. As a second step, efforts should be made to include role models, research examples and practical applications that are relevant to different populations. In computer science and AI for instance, a growing body of research shows that algorithms contain and potentially enlarge human race and gender biases. Discussing this research and allowing students to build on it in their practical work, can make the teaching more inclusive.
- you include, wherever possible, examples, cases studies and ideas from a range of cultural perspectives. Your reading list represents a range of international sources and diverse areas of interest. Research outcomes and innovations, for instance, that are of particular relevance to population in Low and Middle Income Countries, can be stimulating to students who have a family background from one of those countries, which can make their contributions to group work particularly valuable.
- your programme provides students with opportunity to make sense of concepts from their own cultural perspective and to share their ideas and examples with others. e.g. What are commonly held views on the topic/concept/innovation in question in your culture? Why do people hold this view?
- the programme allows for consideration of inclusive practices in the wider world e.g. are students considering how research can be conducted that can be applied to a range of different people and how can doctors, engineers, scientists and other professionals work to improve equality and inclusivity?
In making our curricula more inclusive we:
1. Aim to use examples of research and encourage students to think of research that is inclusive of different groups of people and relevant to a wide range of people.
2. Aim to realise the benefits of diverse student backgrounds and cultural perspectives in teaching that involves the application of concepts to real-life situations.
In order to be successful, bids should be forward-looking and demonstrate alignment to the Department’s Curriculum Review. They should also demonstrate engagement with diverse groups of staff and students. All successful bids will be allocated a mentor.
All those named on successful bids should attend a kick-off workshop to be held on Thursday 15 March 2018 with Professor Londa Schiebinger, John L. Hinds Professor of History of Science at Stanford University and Project Director of Gendered Innovations in Science, Medicine, and Engineering. Information about the project can be found on the website of the Stanford Gendered Innovations Project and the short videos below provide an introduction and a series of examples.
Three short videos about gendered innovation
Funding is available to support four grants, each paying up to £50k. Funds can be used to support salary, consumables, professional services fees, travel and subsistence and equipment fees. Projects may apply for funding for a twelve month period and will be asked to indicate the profile of expenditure across financial years.
Where funds are used for personal salary support, this scheme will not be responsible for continued support after the initial funding. In addition, any costs around the ending of employment that result (directly or indirectly) in consequence of the scheme's limited fixed funding will need to be borne by the employing department/division.
How to apply
Applications must be supported by the relevant Head of Department. There is no limit on the number of submissions per Department. The application is made up of eight sections:
Section 1. Applicant details
Section 2. Project title, plus brief description of intended use and impact of the funding and a plan for evaluation
Section 3. The ways in which the project will contribute to the successful implementation of the Learning and Teaching Strategy and align to the Department’s Curriculum Review
Section 4. The ways in which the work will engage a diverse range of students in design, implementation and evaluation
Section 5. An indication of applicability in other departments/faculties and an outline of the ways in which the learning, if successful, might be disseminated across College
Section 6. A brief outline of the input required from the Educational Development Unit
Section 7. Summary of past achievements in learning and teaching, including a demonstration of an ongoing commitment to developing professional practice in teaching within higher education
Section 8. Statement of support from the Head of Department
Applications should be submitted by the Head of Department or their delegate by Monday 29 January 2018. Outcomes will be communicated to the applicants and their Head of Department before Wednesday 28 February 2018.
Review and selection of applications
A review group chaired by the Vice-Provost (Education) with the Vice-Deans for Education, Assistant Provost (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), Director of Educational Development, and Deputy President (Education) ICU will review the proposals. Applicants may be invited to attend an interview with panel members.
Proposals will be considered using the following criteria:
- The intended use and impact of the funding
- Future impact on learning and teaching across a broad range of disciplines
- The educational rationale and the contextual and theoretical underpinning of the approach to making teaching and learning more inclusive.
- The plans for subsequent evaluation of impact
- Depth and diversity of student engagement in design, implementation and evaluation
- The difference the funding will make, including clear justification of why this funding scheme is appropriate
- Achievements in learning and teaching of applicants, including the demonstration of an ongoing commitment to developing professional practice in teaching within higher education
Information on how to access funds will be provided to successful applicants with their award letter. Funding will be available to start immediately, but no later than 1 August 2018.
Successful applicants will be required to report their progress to the Vice-Provost (Education).
Staff receiving grants will be expected to engage actively with a broad range of communication channels in order to share their findings.