San Marcos,
26
February
2016

CSUSM Awarded $250K from Keck Foundation

By Whitney Frasier

The W.M. Keck Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) to develop a program on American Indian digital media and culture. This is the first grant that CSUSM has been awarded from the Keck Foundation.

Keck’s Undergraduate Education Program promotes distinctive learning and research experiences in science, engineering and the liberal arts at four year undergraduate colleges in states designated by the foundation.

The funding from this award will support a joint project between the California Indian Culture & Sovereignty Center (CICSC) and the Video in the Community program titled The American Indian Digital Media & Culture Project (AIDM&C). Professors Joely Proudfit and Kristine Diekman will work together on this three-year project.

The team plans to work with undergraduate liberal arts faculty and 180 undergraduate students to create, research, design and produce digital media arts products and projects with the assistance of tribal community subject and digital media matter experts.

“The overall goals are to create an international model for the presentation of tribal cultural knowledge through the delivery of interdisciplinary undergraduate media arts based projects; and to provide tribal community members, students and faculty the instruction, support and resources needed to create community responsive media projects,” said Proudfit.

These goals are supported by five “SMART” objectives (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Related and Timeline) as they contribute to the further development of teaching and learning practices that include Native ways of knowing and support the University’s capacity for interdisciplinary liberal arts curricula.

“We are creating a ‘first of its kind’ model for the delivery of courses that can be replicated in other institutions,” said Diekman. “The incorporation of strategies, which include American Indian epistemology, will have far-reaching effects due to the fact that the faculty and students who are trained and who incorporate digital media projects will continue to build on their own skill sets after the completion of the project.”

Part of the program’s concept is to bridge the gap of a larger conversation happening in Hollywood, a lack of diversity – extending further than black and white – and the inclusion of American Indians and Indigenous people in the national narrative. An article co-authored by Proudfit was recently featured in Variety, where the conflict is discussed in detailed. Proudfit believes this project supported by the grant will help move the diversity dialogue from conversation to practice.

Ultimately, the program will have six core courses to present. These six courses serve as the interdisciplinary foundation for teaching and research in the undergraduate liberal arts curriculum with their emphasis on cultural intelligence, critical thinking, creative problem solving and communication.

According to the W.M. Keck Foundation website, their program priorities for grants are to foster new levels of student engagement and understanding, especially through active learning and collaborative curriculum development; expand interdisciplinary activities in balance with needs of each discipline; incorporate research activities into the curriculum and raise the bar of expectations regarding publications and presentations by undergraduates; enhance science and technology literacy for students in all disciplines; develop new ways to stimulate critical thinking and other core competencies of a liberal arts education.

“With the establishment of a new American Indian Studies department and hopefully a new AIS major this fall, the CICSC is uniquely positioned to institutionalize a program that can be replicated internationally,” said Proudfit. “I am thrilled by this opportunity to connect the institution and the tribal nations, communities and individuals to 21st century story telling and media making.”

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