CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge

CUES aims to incentivize cross-disciplinary collaborations on challenges that advance university education.  Our theme-based grants build upon CUES MECha Workshops recommendations, and seek to advance innovation and scholarship in teaching and learning.  Challenge themes will vary each year.

Infosession: 2024 CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge on Teaching & Learning Assistants


The 2024 theme builds on consensus guidance developed during the 2023 MECha workshop on Teaching & Learning Assistants (TAs/LAs) in the Classroom Across Disciplines.  This two-day workshop explored the role of TAs/LAs in university education with input from faculty, staff, students, and administrators representing five UArizona colleges and three offices/units.

Topics included identifying research directions to understand the impact and value of TAs/LAs in university education, roles teaching assistants play across disciplines, teaching assistants' impact as peers and near-peers, and enhancing teaching assistant capacity through training and assessment.

Why TAs/LAs across disciplines?  There is a large variety in how TAs and LAs are selected, assigned, supported, and trained across the University.  Building, mentoring and creating a culture that supports teaching teams and values the assets diverse TAs/LAs bring to the student experience is critical.  This consensus guidance summarizes opportunities for undertaking scholarly and practical work on the workshop’s theme, across disciplines.

What is the expected impact?  The awarded project should spearhead sustainable, institutionally-backed innovation in university education, aligned with the mission of CUES.

One project will be selected and funded for up to two years, starting in Fall 2024.  Proposal budget is not to exceed a total of $100,000 over the duration of the project.

February 14, 2024:  Pre-proposals due.  Pre-proposals must be at most two single-spaced pages.  After pre-proposal review, selected projects will be invited to submit a full proposal.  Invitations will be extended by March 8, 2024.

April 22, 2024:  Full proposals due.  Full proposals must be at most ten (single-spaced) pages.

Eligibility.  This call is open to cross-unit or cross-discipline University faculty teams.  Teams must include 50% or more tenure-track, continuing-status track, or career-track faculty. 

Advisory Board.  A CUES-sponsored TA/LA Advisory/Advocacy Board will help select, support, and provide guidance for the awarded project.

What types of proposals are envisioned?  Promising proposals will consider University assets, resources, and needs aligned with TA/LA consensus guidance and the CUES mission. Examples of promising projects include, but are not limited to:

  • developing and expanding on TA/LA training at an institutional level,
  • leveraging culturally sensitive curriculum to include training on working with diverse populations in educational settings,
  • gathering data on the experiences of international/underrepresented students in TA/LA roles,
  • developing programs to assess how diverse teaching teams can improve outcomes for learners, 
  • researching how teaching team composition impacts student learning/how to maximize TA/LA confidence in working with students.

These are only examples; no approach is necessarily more valuable than another.  Proposals that intentionally build upon the University’s institutional identities (e.g., land grant, HSI) and values (e.g., inclusion, compassion, exploration) are encouraged. 

Be prepared to submit the following information in PDF form:

>> Phase I (Pre-proposals)

A. Project pre-proposal, at most two single-spaced pages and addressing:

  1. Description of the TA/LA related problem, gap or issue to be addressed, and its importance.
  2. Description of a team, representing a minimum of two disciplines, units, departments, or colleges.  Cross-college collaborations are strongly encouraged.
  3. Brief argument as to why the proposed collaboration will be of benefit to UArizona, not just to the individual team members, or units leading it.
  4. Outline of a project that develops, implements and evaluates curricular, programmatic, or pedagogical innovation and scholarship regarding TAs/LAs in the classroom, across disciplines, addressing the challenge identified in Item 1.

B. CVs – Each team member's most current curriculum vitae limited to three single-spaced pages. CVs of team members will not count towards the two-page limit.

Invitations to submit full proposals will be extended by March 8, 2024 to selected teams

>> Phase II (Full proposal, invited)

A. Project Full proposal, at most ten single-spaced pages addressing:

  1. Unabridged description of all four pre-proposal elements, incorporating needed detail, and addressing pre-proposal feedback.
  2. Description of intended project outcomes, benchmarks, and impacts.
  3. Description of a method and a plan for measuring success.
  4. Description of the anticipated institutional value of the project, and concrete steps and commitments to ensure broad impact, and meaningful dissemination (see Items a-c, under section B. below).

B. Letters (at least one per participating unit, written by chairs, deans, etc., as appropriate) addressing:

  1. Anticipated institutional value of the project (e.g., how will the project help drive meaningful institutional change at the University?  How will the project be of value to the University as a whole, not just the specific units involved?)
  2. Level of institutional commitment (e.g., department, school, or college commitments) for the project and its expected outcomes (e.g., what additional funding, time release will be in place?  What efforts to disseminate and integrate the project will take place?)
  3. Anticipated plan for sustaining the transformation the project will bring about, past the 2-years of funding (e.g., what is the commitment for scaling, broadening or institutionalizing the project or its outcomes?)

C. Most current CVs from each team member.

D. Budget, using the budget sheet provided below.

CVs of team members, letters, references cited, and budget will not count toward the ten-page limit.


Full proposals due on April 22, 2024 by 11:59pm.  Only invited teams may submit a full proposal.


Infosession: 2022 CUES Spanning Boundaries Challenge on Civic Engagement & Service Learning

Stream Now

The 2022 theme builds on consensus guidance developed during the 2021 MECha workshop on Civic Engagement and Service Learning (CE&SL).  This two-day workshop explored the role of CE&SL in university education with input from 30 faculty, staff, students, and administrators, representing 11 UArizona colleges and six offices/units.

Topics included frameworks and approaches for maximizing impact of CE&SL work on university education, the relationship between CE&SL and the public good, the responsibility of land grant and HSI institutions around CE&SL, and recognizing and measuring CE&SL impact.

Why CE&SL?  At UArizona, a land grant and Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) on the Borderlands, a focus on CE&SL presents challenges and opportunities to better understand and live our educational mission, including our commitment to the public good, teaching, learning, research and service.

Why cross-disciplinary CE&SL?  Embracing the ethos of CE&SL in university education requires forging new and enhancing existing partnerships, going into the communities, cultivating authentic relationships, and eliciting community experts’ opinions.  The 2022 SB Challenge aims to advance institutional change on CE&SL premised on both novel synergies, and ongoing campus efforts. 

What is the expected impact?  The awarded project should spearhead sustainable, institutionally-backed innovation in university education, aligned with the mission of CUES.

The confluence of data science, enhanced humanities, visual arts and design, civic purpose, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc., calls for students to develop a nimble sense of what numbers mean and tell us.  This skill, which could be termed “Quantitative Intuition (QI)”, includes data-informed evaluation, interpretation, and communication, and is arguably an essential outcome of college learning across all disciplines.  Developing and sharpening QI is an interdisciplinary issue because robust QI requires integrating multiple disciplinary perspectives.

Following consensus guidance from University faculty from law, journalism, architecture, public health, medicine, economics, political science, and more, CUES will fund one cross-unit or cross-discipline faculty project addressing educational innovation and scholarship on QI.

What is QI?   A nimble sense of what data (broadly understood) mean and convey in multiple contexts, usable for questioning, validating, and creating effective stories. Contexts for QI include, but are not limited to:

  • Telling effective stories: enhancing meaning, interpretation, media, messaging
  • Interplay between emotions and numbers: making data “human”
  • Balancing tensions: simplicity & realism, examples & abstraction
  • Role and impact of symbols, graphs, and other visuals in communicating information
  • Intuition in the digital age: the role of AI in enhancing content and learning

Why multidisciplinary QI?   In a time of rapid global and technological change, numbers pervade everything.  Because robust QI requires integrating knowledge and perspectives across many disciplines, developing our students’ QI is a multidisciplinary problem. 

What is the expected impact?   The awarded project should spearhead sustainable, institutionally-backed innovation in university education, aligned with the mission of CUES.