Call for Proposals

Race, Place, and Equity COLA courses, fall 2023


Faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences are invited to submit a proposal to teach a 1-credit COLA class under the umbrella Race, Place, and Equity (RPE) program. These courses have the goal of introducing to incoming undergraduate students the places, histories, and racial legacies that have shaped Charlottesville and central Virginia, while also teaching the fundamentals of place-based and community-based learning. The program presents many important opportunities: on-site learning about the intersections of race and democracy; dialogue and reflection in small groups with a faculty member; and an introduction to fundamental principles of community engagement.

The RPE COLA program is part of a $5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to build equity-minded, anti-racist, place-based educational opportunities.

Now in its third year, the RPE COLA program has proven to be deeply impactful to students, faculty, and the grant’s community partners who help shape the courses and on-site activities.

Towards the end of May, RPE COLA faculty will convene for a workshop where a suite of opportunities developed by an expert advisory group will be introduced, and each faculty member will have the opportunity to discuss and develop their course in partnership with RPE staff and community stakeholders. We expect that each faculty member will build a curriculum that will include engagement with one or more community partners, and participation in at least one fully-funded on-site engagement opportunity.

Read about the Mellon RPE initiative in UVA Today and on the RPE website.

You can find out more about RPE COLAs in the Cavalier Daily and at this web page.

COLA Courses:

COLA courses are one-credit, graded seminars that meet once each week for 75 minutes in the fall semester. Student enrollment is capped at 18 first-year students, all of whom are assigned to the instructor for their lower-division advising. The COLA seminars are topically focused on an area identified by the faculty member. Ideally, they pay special attention to the relationship of the topic to the College curriculum as a whole, allowing faculty to teach students how to discuss important issues, how to read critically, and/or how to relate real-world issues to the kinds of courses they have an opportunity to take. COLA courses should have rigorous reading and other assignments in keeping with the one-credit format. Students meet for the course weekly and some significant portion of time during the course of the semester (~20%) should be devoted to advising issues (e.g., selecting and declaring a major, study abroad opportunities, career services, undergraduate research, etc.).

All T/TT and General Faculty on renewable contracts in A&S are eligible to apply. Faculty receive $4,000.00 for teaching a COLA class, to be paid as summer wages the following summer. Faculty who have previously taught an RPE COLA will earn an additional $250.

Submission Guidelines:

Please email proposals to Catherine Walden, RPE Program Director, Finalists will be forwarded on to Rachel Most.

1-page proposals should include:

1. Title of the class

2. Description of the COLA class, explaining how it fits into the Race, Place & Equity program

3. A statement indicating your willingness to meet the criteria (e.g., engaging local community members in class, willingness to participate in site visits, participation in May workshop, etc.)

For questions about the Mellon grant, please contact Catherine Walden ( For general questions about COLA classes, please contact Rachel Most (