Posted on September 4, 2020 by


Over the summer, 22 UTSA graduate students from different colleges across the university united to participate in the   COVID-19 Transdisciplinary Team Grand Challenge . The challenge, sponsored by The Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise, tasked teams of students with developing transdisciplinary proposals that address issues associated with the pandemic.

Out of a total of 11 proposals, two teams, which included students from the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD), tied for third place while another team including a former COEHD student received the recognition of Graduate Dean’s Choice. Team members who tied for third place will each receive a $2,000 scholarship and $1,500 towards travel to an approved domestic conference. Each recipient of the Graduate Dean’s Choice will receive a $2,000 scholarship.

Receiving the Graduate Dean's Choice award for their “Life Under COVID-19: Oral Histories of Small Businesses in the Historic Westside of San Antonio” proposal, the team included students from the College of Business, College of Architecture, Construction and Planning and former COEHD Counseling major, Anna Slade. Her team’s goal was to conduct at least ten oral histories and analyze the results qualitatively, looking for key themes as well as specific solutions to the pandemic’s problems. “My idea of oral histories was to listen to those most impacted and let   them   say what they need,” she said. “I figured that if you ask people where it hurts, you're more likely to come up with targeted, effective solutions.” Part of the team’s goal was to publicize portions of the oral histories in order to inform public policy. In addition, Slade’s team aimed to use the resources of COEHD as well as the History, Urban Planning, and Business Colleges. Slade said she learned a lot from working with teammates across the disciplines, “It was all about listening and hearing different perspectives,” she said. “We were an extremely multicultural, diverse team, and our project benefited from it.”

One of the third-place winning proposals, “Dodge Corona: Promoting STEM learning in The Age of COVID-19 through a Culturally Relevant Online Game,” included Lina Martín-Corredor, doctoral student in the Cultural, Literacy and Language program, who also drew on her experiences in COEHD. Corredor said she feels a great responsibility to convey the values and perspectives that she has learned from the COEHD faculty and their teachings. “Concepts such as community, accountability, and social justice, which have been thoroughly analyzed from a theoretical standpoint during my career, have been central in the development of our project,” she said. The main goal of her team’s proposal was to design a culturally relevant game for the community members of San Antonio that allows them to learn about the effects of their everyday decisions which impact their health and social lives.

“Our game intends to improve the user’s understanding and awareness of disease transmission, providing an authentic, real-world example of some foundational engineering concepts such as exponential growth and mitigating factors, and ultimately, engage youth in critical reflection of the varied personal experiences in our community that impact social justice and choice during a pandemic,” Corredor said.

Another third-place winning project, “Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic in Texas,” included Curriculum and Instruction major Bethsanie Sanchez, whose team examined how COVID-19 has affected education. While Sanchez represented COEHD, her teammates represented the College of Engineering. “I enjoyed working with my teammates. We all collaborated with each other,” she said. “If there’s another grand challenge, I’m definitely down to do another one. It was a great experience doing this project during the summer.” Due to the enthusiastic response from students, another challenge is in the works.