Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life

THE COLLABORATIVE CLUSTER INITIATIVE

Learn about the 2015-2016 Collaborative Cluster Intitiative, "A Renaissance Project: Reclaiming Memory, Movement, and Migration."

Collaborative Clusters bring together collaborative teams (“Clusters”) comprised of multidisciplinary experts and students to work on a sustained theme over an entire academic year.  Clusters take on projects that are substantial enough to encompass an academic year’s arc, but concrete enough to come up with some actual output.  Substantial funding is provided to support outside speakers, team bonding events, and student internships supporting the project.

Minimally, a Cluster team consists of three expert members: a Wesleyan faculty member, a faculty member from another department or institution, and a nonacademic expert practitioner.  (While nonacademic Cluster leaders should be integrally involved in all planning, it is understood their schedules outside the academy may require flexibility in their teaching responsibilities.) The Cluster leaders select 20 to 30 students as Cluster participants.

Application is through the development of a project proposal, including a learning plan for the students who are chosen to participate.  Successful proposals have a compelling project theme as well as contain all of the following three components (although each year’s team may modify the components within an acceptable range as fits their particular theme and leader strengths):

1. THE YEARLONG RESEARCH PROJECT.

The Cluster team collaborates together on a joint project (but may break into subgroups). The team leaders will use the project to involve students in problem-focused activities. Each of the Cluster leaders will be responsible for overseeing at least one subgroup of the Cluster’s students.  The Cluster leaders may either team-teach a year-long weekly project seminar, or decide to break up into separate seminars.

The Cluster leaders will convene the full group of students regularly for related events, which could include, for example, dinner (with or without an associated lecture or discussion), attendance at a colloquium or seminar with the Cluster leaders or other invited speakers, or attendance at other related campus events.

The Cluster leaders will develop a project plan that incorporates academic content and project-related skill building activities, including drawing upon other resource centers (e.g., QAC, CCP, Writing Center, Patricelli Center, etc.). Students are expected to give at least one public presentation and submit at least one written report.

2. ACADEMIC COURSES.

Each of the academic team leaders will teach one class during this year pertaining to the Cluster theme, hosted (or cross-listed) by the Allbritton Center; the students associated with the Cluster will enroll in at least one of these courses. For Wesleyan faculty, the course to be taught as part of the Cluster Initiative counts toward the faculty member’s regular teaching load (as does the research seminar, so half of their course load for the year supports the Cluster).  Nonacademic team leaders will be paid the normal visitor’s salary.  If the nonacademic team leader is not willing or able to teach a course by him/herself, this expert could team-teach a course with a Wesleyan faculty member or be incorporated into the project in other ways (to be described in the project proposal).

Students earn one course credit for the yearlong research project seminar (and one for the Cluster-related course that they take). In addition, selected students may be eligible for an internship stipend, which they may complete during the following academic year or in the summer following their participation in the Cluster.  The proposal should describe the scope and purpose of such internships; the model is expected to be similar to either the research apprenticeship program or the Davenport grant program, depending on whether the project is more centrally related to the faculty member’s research, or to the student’s own research interests (particularly in the case of senior theses).  Students may also be placed in related internships that receive Allbritton credit if such a component links up naturally with the project.

3.  PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS

During the academic year, the Collaborative Cluster will sponsor one or more public events for the Wesleyan community and general public on the Cluster theme. This may include, but is not limited to: the nonacademic expert giving a public lecture; the team leaders doing a panel presentation; a student-faculty panel; or a small symposium.  Funds permitting, larger events, such as an all-day conference involving other academics and practitioners (including alumni with relevant expertise) may be possible.

It is also expected that the Cluster will present its research to the Wesleyan and greater community at a public forum towards the end of the school year, including a discussion of follow-up plans, such as future thesis or senior essay work; hopefully, such work will involve at least some publishable research output, from the team leaders individually or collectively, or from a professor-student team.

Applicants may want to confer with the current Collaborative Cluster faculty and/or Allbritton Director Rob Rosenthal, for further information.