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University Courses Program

This program is no longer accepting new proposals. Provost funding for teaching initiatives is now available through these teaching grants.

University Courses promote new and creative trans-institutional learning, a key component of Vanderbilt’s Academic Strategic Plan. These courses leverage the natural synergies across Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges, providing faculty the opportunity to reach beyond departmental boundaries to deliver innovative classes on significant subjects.

Overview  |  Courses  |  Committees  |  News

Program Overview

The University Courses program ran from 2016 to 2020 out of the Provost’s Office to encourage and support “cross college” teaching, one of the cornerstones of the Vanderbilt Academic Strategic Plan. Faculty from all of Vanderbilt’s colleges and schools participated in the program, introducing more than a dozen new interdisciplinary courses on such topics as historic black Nashville, healthcare disparities, design thinking, and artificial intelligence.

University Courses seek to advance innovation, trans-institutional learning, multicultural learning and big questions by:

  • Approaching a subject matter with a novel methodology, addressing research through a multidisciplinary lens
  • Taking an interdisciplinary approach to create or leverage collaborations across fields as it relates to both teaching and discovery
  • Educating the whole student and promoting lifelong learning
  • Embracing diverse perspectives
  • Address enduring historical questions, cross-cutting societal themes, and today’s most captivating challenges

A special designation of Multicultural University Course was applied to courses that specifically address multiculturalism, racial/ethnic issues, identity literacy and/or cultural competency within an interdisciplinary setting.


Project Historical Timeline

Awarded Courses

2018-19 Cohort

The Causes and Consequences of LGBTQ Public Policies (UNIV 3320/5320)

Instructor: Kitt Carpenter, Professor of Economics

Cultural Heritage in Context: The Future of the Past (UNIV 3370/5370)

Instructors: Mireille Lee, Assistant Professor of Art and William Fowler, Associate Professor of Anthropology

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) (UNIV 3275)

Instructors: Doug Fisher, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Haerin Shin, Assistant Professor of English

From Academic Insight to Entrepreneurial Impact (UNIV 6215)

Instructors: Daniel Gervais, Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law; Kathleen Gould, Louise B McGavock Chair in Cell and Developmental Biololgy; Reed Omary, Professor of Radiology; Marie Thursby, Adjunct Professor of Management; and Robert Webster, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Planetary Health, Policy and Social Justice  (UNIV 3315/5315)

Instructors: Michael Vandenbergh, Chair of Law and Carol Ziegler, Assistant Professor of Nursing

2017-18 Cohort

Data Science Methods for Smart City Applications (UNIV 3360/5360)

Instructors: Gautam Biswas Professor of Computer Science; Abhishek Dubey, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; Mark Ellingham, Professor of Mathematics; Jonathan Gilligan, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science; David Kosson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Claire Smrekar, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education

Design Thinking, Design Doing (UNIV 3350/5350)

Instructors: Rogers Hall, Professor and Chair, Department of Teaching and Learning and David Owens Professor of the Practice and Management and Innovation

The Science and History of Brewing (UNIV 3330)

Instructors: Bruce Carter Professor of Biochemistry and John Janusek, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Race, Place and Power (UNIV 3200)

Instructor: Marzia Milazzo, Assistant  Professor of English

Rhythm of Change: African Music and African Politics (UNIV 3100)

Instructors: Gregory Barz, Professor of Musicology and Keith Weghorst, Assistant  Professor Political Science

Virtual Reality for Interdisciplinary Applications (UNIV 3279)

Instructors: Robert Bodenheimer, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Ole Molvig, Assistant Professor of History

2016-17 Cohort

Historic Black Nashville (UNIV/HIST 2655 & UNIV/HIST 5655)

Instructors: Jane Landers , Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History and Daniel Sharfstein, Professor of Law and History

Justice, Mercy and Mass Incarceration (UNIV 5150)

Instructors: Graham Reside, Assistant Professor and Executive Director for the Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership for the Professions and Ed Rubin, University Professor of Law and Political Science

The Nation’s Health: From Policy to Practice (UNIV 3325/5325)

Instructors: Gilbert Gonzales, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Tara McKay, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society

Social Entrepreneurship (UNIV 3225/5225)

Instructors: Richard Pitt, Associate Professor of Sociology and Paul Speer, Professor and Chair, Department of Human & Organizational Development

Tackling Big Questions with Mobile Cloud Computing (UNIV 3278/5278)

Instructors: Douglas Schmidt, Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering and Jules White, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

University Courses Committee, Cycle 2020

  • Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching and principle senior lecturer in mathematics
  • Christopher (Kitt) Carpenter, E. Bronson Ingram chair and professor of economics
  • Tracey George, vice provost for faculty affairs and Charles B. Cox III and Lucy D. Cox family chair in law and liberty
  • David Kosson, Cornelius Vanderbilt professor of engineering
  • Melissa Rose, senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Blair School of Music and professor of piano
  • Carrie Russell, assistant dean of undergraduate education in the College of Arts & Science and senior lecturer of political science
  • Paul Speer, professor of human and organizational development
  • Claudine Taaffe, senior lecturer in African American and diaspora studies
  • Carol Ziegler, assistant professor of nursing