Students in Anthropology 70, “Experiencing Human Origin and Evolution,” unearthed a 2-million-year-old fossil in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa during a 20-day extension of the fall 2017 course. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

What is the Seed Grant?

DCAL’s Experiential Learning Seed Grant catalyzes the creation and expansion of intentional, reflective, applied learning opportunities across the institution with one-year pilot funding, dedicated campus partnerships, expert professional development, and a cohort-based model for project development.

47 grants totaling $1M+

To date, DCAL has awarded 47 grants totaling more than $1M in seed funding to experiential learning projects in 21 Arts and Sciences departments, seven co-curricular centers, and all three professional schools.

At Rauner Special Collections Library, undergraduate and high school students examine first editions of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman as part of the experiential English 27: “American Poetry” course. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Broadly defined, experiential learning at Dartmouth includes academic and co-curricular opportunities that incorporate elements of research, service for social impact, internships, outdoor programs, entrepreneurial activity, leadership training, global study, and other project-based experiences that complement and enhance students’ academic learning.

The intended impact of experiential learning at Dartmouth is to increase students’ confidence and capacity for innovation and risk-taking, to collaborate across difference, and to engage in complex problem solving and reflective critical thinking.

Students in the spring 2016 Film 7: “Mass Media and Democracy” course worked with renowned letterpress artist Amos Kennedy in the Dartmouth Library’s Book Arts Workshop. (Photo by Mike Goudzwaard.)

Dartmouth experiential learning opportunities are designed to promote student learning and development. Specifically, experiential learning demonstrates a positive impact on students’ confidence and abilities to:

  • Innovate, take risks, and learn from failure
  • Work effectively with people from very different backgrounds, cultures, and life situations
  • Understand the importance of deep thinking and the power of the intellect to address the world’s most difficult issues
  • Effectively communicate about complex issues and objectives
  • Apply multiple disciplines and perspectives to a complex problem or opportunity
“The experiential learning component was key to the students’ ability to think critically and outside the box, to improvise, to collaborate across differences, to experiment, and to see the impact of public humanities. Several of the students remarked that every student should be encouraged/required to take an experiential learning course before they graduate. It forces them outside of their comfort zones and they discover resources they did not know they had.” —Ivy Schweitzer, Professor of English on English 27: American

DCAL’s Experiential Learning Seed Grant program engages students, faculty, and co-curricular partners in the process of launching imaginative, high-impact, often left-field ideas that have potential to grow into viable models for integrating experiential learning as a core component of the Dartmouth experience. Remarkable stories have emerged out of this grant program, and the transformative teaching and learning it enables.

Reflection is a key component of the experiential learning process. Here, Erica Ng '19 writes in her journal during an excursion in the Kalahari Desert as part of ANTH 70: Experiencing Human Origin and Evolution. (Photo by Adam Nemeroff)


  • Alternative Spring Breaks with a Social Impact
  • DALI Scholars Learn + Build
  • Designing and Building a Tiny House to Explore InnovativApproaches to Energy, Health, and the Environment
  • Launching a Hub for Collaborative Research in History
  • Making of 21st Century Exhibits: Curating the National Black Theater Museum
“I observed that the experiential component of the course made students more emotionally/ personally invested in the course material, more aware of the impact of their own subject position on their knowledge, and ultimately, more open to multiple perspectives on an issue. This experience gave me the opportunity to expand my own knowledge of best practices in experiential education. I worked hard to help the students understand the central role of reflection in the experiential classroom. I think that I improved some of my own reflective pedagogies as a result.” —Sara Chaney, Lecturer in Writing, on CoCo 6: Autism: Science, Story, & Experience

Students enrolled in the "Autism: Science, Story and Experience" course partnered with local children on the autism spectrum to collaboratively create a public art gallery as a culminating experience.

2017-18 Seed Grants

  • Experiential and Inquiry-Based Enhancement of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Curriculum
  • Graduate Learning Fellows for Mathematics
  • Luso-Hispanic Film Festival
  • Pathways to Medicine Scholars
  • Rauner Special Collections Library Student Research Fellowship
  • Senior Design Challenge
  • Transnational Race and Sexuality Studies

In the 2016-17 season alone, 68 Dartmouth professors from 24 academic departments brought more than 2,000 students to 51 different live performances and films through the Hopkins Center's Curricular Connections program.


  • American Poetry: Community-Based Learning
  • Architecture, Art, and Public Space in the 21st Century
  • Applied Economics and Policy in Poland and China
  • Autism: Science, Story, and Experience
  • Biologic Lessons of the Eye in India
  • Dartmouth Vietnam Oral History Project
  • Experiencing Human Origin and Evolution in South Africa
  • Fieldwork in Tonga
  • First and Second Year Writing Portfolio
  • Global Health Lab: Kosovo Women’s Health Policy Research
  • Great Issues Scenarios and Tabletop Exercises
  • Hop Curricular Connections
  • Intergroup Dialogue
  • Living with Dementia
  • Preparing Students to be Arbiters of New Scholarship
  • Science and Practice of Wellness
  • Social Impact Practicums
  • Sugar Crew Spring Break
  • Telling Stories for Social Change
  • Theater Department “E-Term” Immersion in Professional Theater
  • VoxFest: Alumni Theater Festival

For more seed grant videos, visit http://dartgo.org/teachandlearn.

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