Tips for crafting a successful Dream Idea proposal.
The ultimate goal is for you to interact closely with students in a meaningful and memorable way not afforded by your usual classroom routines.
The project should not be something you are already doing. The goal is to encourage you to stretch and try something new. That being said, it is possible to use the funds to augment an existing program. For instance, a faculty member with a regular seminar on Joan of Arc took her students on a number of field trips to see relevant manuscripts, art and theatrical performances.
The most successful projects often combine an academic pursuit with social or recreational activities. A seminar on the nature of religious Pilgrimage was conducted on a multi-day hiking trip. A study of southern slave culture was conducted over a series of meals featuring traditional soul food recipes, researched and prepared by the students in the faculty member’s home.
Be careful about planning a project that requires a field trip at the end of the semester, especially in the spring. Students become very busy and plans can unravel. The best projects start early and employ regular contact over time. If you do organize a field trip, consider holding regular meetings, dinners, or discussions in advance to plan and study for the event.
The journey is as important as the destination. As one faculty member reported, “I came to realize it was all about the ‘van time’ travelling to and from the planned events. It was in those hours that I formed friendships with the students that last to this day.”
Projects typically involve more than one student, and fewer than fifteen.
Please avoid projects that would spend the majority of the money on a stipend to bring in an outside expert for a talk/seminar/event. The goal is for YOU to build meaningful relationships with YOUR students.
Similarly, avoid a plan to use the money to hire an assistant to handle some of your current duties so that you engage in an activity with students. The funds should be used for the activity itself.
Ideas that involve paying a student's way on an expensive trip can be problematic. The University says we must file tax forms showing it as income to the student, which can then interfere with their scholarship eligibility.
We are not allowed to make payments to anyone who is not a tax-paying citizen of the U.S.
These are not rules, but guides. Do not feel you have to copy what has been done before. Be creative. And have fun.