Home Faculty meeting The Institute’s COVID-19 Reset Program Supports Social Science Teachers | VTX

The Institute’s COVID-19 Reset Program Supports Social Science Teachers | VTX


In late summer 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued and the delta variant dominated the news, the management team of the Institute for Society, Culture and the Environment (ISCE ) began thinking about how to help social science teachers whose research had been affected. by the pandemic get back on track.

“Many researchers have had to halt their research altogether or develop revised strategies and plans to continue their work due to the need for social distancing, closed facilities, or the inability to interact with study participants” , said Karen Roberto, Executive Director of the ISCE and a University Professor Emeritus of Human Development and Family Sciences. “Added to these challenges are the competing demands of shifting from in-person to online or hybrid education, and for many, family issues related to lack of daycare and remote schooling for their children.”

Given these challenges, ISCE created the COVID-19 Reset Program, an initiative that provides both funding and mentorship to social science professors whose research has been interrupted during the pandemic. Funding supports data collection activities and writing time needed for faculty members to become competitive when seeking external grants. Mentoring includes monthly meetings for the cohort of participants with the ISCE leadership team, consisting of Roberto, Yancey Crawford and Isabel Bradburn. These meetings allow participants to connect with the ISCE and each other, as well as provide expertise by sharing feedback, while completing an external proposal to support their research.

“Although academics of all types and ranks have seen their careers disrupted by the pandemic, there is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that women have been particularly affected. The COVID-19 Reset program prioritized female professors who applied,” Roberto explained.

“I am extremely grateful to ISCE for this opportunity for mentorship and support for myself and other female professors,” said Rosanna Breaux, assistant professor of psychology at the College of Science. “Being able to connect with other researchers across campus and get feedback from different viewpoints is something that I really enjoy as an academic and I think it greatly enhances research , thus increasing the chances of financing.”

After a competitive review process, five professors were selected to participate in the program, and each received up to $7,500 in funding. Selected professors and their associated research projects include:

  • Shannon Bell, sociology: forest farming, foraging traditions and land justice in Appalachia
  • Rosanna Breaux, Psychology: Examining Parenting Emotion Socialization Practices Among Parents of Preschoolers from Eastern Cultures
  • Eunju Hwang, Clothing, Housing and Resource Management: Smart, Connected and Inclusive Communities
  • Caitlin Jewitt, Political Science: A Voter’s Perspective: Assessing Citizens’ Understanding and Perception of U.S. Presidential Appointments
  • Melanie Kiechle, History: Desensitization of Health: Public Health, Authority on Sensory Knowledge, and Environmental Racism

“The ISCE Covid Reset program gives me the opportunity to launch a new direction in my research at an ideal time – after securing a position and having struggled to find time for research at the height of the pandemic,” said Jewitt. “I know that the work I have done throughout the program will increase my chances of obtaining external funding to collect data for my next book project. The funding and mentorship associated with the program will definitely make my application stronger than it otherwise would have been.

Program participants attended their first meeting in September, beginning a series of interactive sessions focused on identifying suitable funding opportunities, reviewing common elements of grant proposals and budgets, and developing a well-rehearsed concept paper to share with colleagues, collaborators and program officers at funding agencies.

“Being able to meet monthly and get insight into how to write and tailor proposals to increase chances for funding has been extremely helpful as an early-career faculty member,” Breaux said. objectives and participated in a role play in which we talked with a program officer about our proposal. Having regular assignments to help us brainstorm and work on elements of our proposals has made the writing process easier and more enjoyable, and helps with accountability and time management.”

Upcoming meetings during the spring semester will focus on developing the specific components of their individual proposals, with the ultimate goal that each participant has written every major section by the end of the program.

“The mentoring sessions associated with the ISCE Covid Reset program provided fantastic opportunities to organize parts of my grant application and make steady progress,” Jewitt said. “It allows me to ask questions of those who have more experience with grant applications as well as of colleagues who hold positions similar to mine. The ISCE staff give me invaluable guidance and confidence throughout the process. It’s also the perfect opportunity to meet other faculty members and learn more about the fascinating work they do.