Mini-grants to support 5 projects in SUNY Oswego's first Grand Challenge


July 18, 2018

A SUNY Oswego panel has recommended college mini-grant funding for five project proposals -- ranging from a multicultural effort to provide water purifiers to Puerto Rico to helping support a talk by an eco-poet known for her poetry about the disasters such as those at Flint, Michigan, and the Deepwater Horizon -- developed for Grand Challenges: Fresh Water for All.

The cross-campus nature of the funded initiatives helps demonstrate the multidisciplinary impact of the first two-year effort for Grand Challenges, designed to advance the common good and contribute at the highest levels of theory and application and, in the words of the college's "Tomorrow" strategic plan, to "… finding solutions to the grand challenges of our times."

A subcommittee of the Grand Challenges Oversight Committee recommended the following applicants for funding, according to Scott Furlong, provost and vice president for academic affairs:

* ALANA, the college's Asian, Latino, Asian and Native American collaborative organization for cultural groups on campus, proposes raising money for the purchase and distribution of water purifiers for people in Puerto Rico whose sources of water were compromised by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Puerto Rico native Magdalena Rivera, the college's student involvement coordinator as well as the coordinator for students planning the annual ALANA Student Leadership Conference, said the plan is for fundraising to occur this fall and for some students to travel to Puerto Rico with the water filters over winter or spring break. The effort, to date, is unaffiliated with this summer's volunteer effort, SUNY Stands with Puerto Rico.

* The departments of art, music, and English and creative writing, in collaboration with area environmentalists, applied for assistance to help fund "We Are Lake Ontario," a multifaceted exhibition running through Aug. 20 at Oswego State Downtown, corner of West First and Bridge streets.

Amy E. Bartell, the college's coordinator of community arts programming, wrote that the mini-grant is to be used to defray the production costs of a chapbook of student poetry about Lake Ontario and other multimedia exhibition costs.

* The college's arts presentation office Artswego, the Office of Career Services, and the English and creative writing department submitted a mini-grant application to help support the appearance this fall of nationally renowned eco-poet Rebecca Dunham, author of "Cold Pastoral," a Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards finalist.

Dunham, a professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and author of three other books of poetry, is scheduled to be among the guests this fall for the annual Living Writers Series, according to lead applicant Laura Donnelly, an English and creative writing faculty member and accomplished poet.

* The political science and history departments, teaming with the gender and women's studies program, are offering signature courses this fall titled "How New Is #metoo? The History of Gender Activism in the United States" and "The Witches Are Hunting: Contemporary Feminist Activism in America."

A collaborative section of the courses will deal with gendered environmental justice issues specifically related to water, and local water activists are scheduled to attend a joint session of the courses, according to lead applicant Mary McCune of the history department.  

* The Writing Across the Curriculum Program, the college's intensive effort to ensure each student at SUNY Oswego writes frequently, thoughtfully and effectively, proposes to create a cross-disciplinary anthology/journal for Grand Challenges writings and art, curated by the college's Writing Fellows and developed by students taking a one-credit English course.

The first volume, scheduled for publication next spring, will be devoted to fresh water topics, according to lead applicants Melissa Webb and Kenneth Nichols of the English and creative writing faculty.

For more on the continuously developing projects anticipated for Grand Challenges: Fresh Water for All, visit

Shared responsibility -- Amy Bartell, SUNY Oswego's coordinator of community arts programming, speaks about shared stewardship of the neighboring, premier water resource June 15 at the opening reception for the multifaceted exhibition "We Are Lake Ontario" at Oswego State Downtown. The exhibition is one of five Grand Challenges: Fresh Water for All projects to earn mini-grant funding at the college.