Congratulations to the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences projects that were awarded a total of $68,000 from three internal grant programs – Office of Research’s Faculty Grant for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, Wilkinson College’s Scholarly/Creative Activity Faculty Grant, and Fowler School of Engineering’s McGovern Foundation Trusted Artificial Intelligence. Additionally, two faculty received the Leatherby Libraries Supporting Open Access Research and Scholarship award! Below is a summary of each of the funded projects.

Faculty Grant for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities

The Office of Research Faculty Grant for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (FGRSC) internal grant program provides competitive, merit-based support for research, scholarly, and creative activities in all disciplines and fields. The FGRSC supports projects that will lead to the development of new and innovative scholarship and creative activity or the production of publications, attract external funding, increase competitiveness for external awards, and enhance the national visibility and reputation of Chapman faculty.

Minju Kwon (Political Science)
Blacklisted Rebels: Commitment to Child Rights in Armed Conflict in the Philippines ($15,000)
This research project explores causal factors that influence rebel groups’ reactions to being blacklisted by the United Nations (UN) for their violations of child rights in armed conflict. As part of case studies, Dr. Kwon examines why the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines signed and complied with its UN action plan for ending and preventing the recruitment of children. Insurgencies in Mindanao, the Philippines, have involved severe violations of child rights, including recruiting, abducting, and sexually abusing children. Why did the MILF commit to a UN action plan for ending and preventing the use of children, while other non-state armed groups in the Philippines continue to use violence against children in armed conflict? Many studies considered tactical and instrumental reasons important for rebel groups’ commitment to international humanitarian law, but few studies systematically examined conditions under which a rebel group is more likely to be concerned about its international legitimacy when blacklisted by international organizations. As the first systematic mixed-method research on UN action plans, this research makes a novel contribution to the literature on international institutions by analyzing the conditions under which the UN’s “naming and shaming” increases rebel groups’ commitment to international humanitarian law. This grant will support qualitative data from in-person interviews through fieldwork in the Philippines.

Jillian Warren (Art)
Story of Things 1.0: From Concept to Wearable Design Specifications – Igniting Curiosity for Sustainable Futures ($15,000)
Building on Dr. Warren’s award-winning “Story of Things’ concept and calls to action like California’s State Seal of Civic Engagement Environmental Literacy Implementation Guide, this project aims to explore how wearable AI technology can empower youth to engage in self-reflection, environmental literacy, and civic engagement. This initiative aligns with California’s vision for creating environmentally literate individuals capable of contributing to sustainable, prosperous, and equitable communities, fostering a generation aware and actively engaged in shaping a better future. This grant will support a systematic literature review, interviews with educational leaders, and early-phase lo-fi prototype development with educational leaders through design workshops and probe deployments. These are a complement to co-design workshops Warren plans to run with youth. This comprehensive approach will allow the research team to outline design specifications for wearable AI.

Wilkinson College Scholarly/Creative Activity Faculty Grant

The Wilkinson College Scholarly/Creative Activity Faculty Grant supports the development of impactful and innovative scholarly or creative work by Wilkinson College tenure-track or tenured faculty. This program aims to advance faculty career trajectories, elevate the national visibility and reputation of Wilkinson faculty for their excellence in creative and scholarly endeavors, and provide faculty with opportunities to catalyze new and innovative areas or bring an existing project to completion.

Nancy Contreras (Sociology)
Border PAR: A Borderlands Migration in Action (Jeffrey Griffith ’11 Junior Faculty Research Award, $5,000)
Migration and border enforcement are social phenomena impacting the Mexico-United States region. This research captures the lived experience of migrants, community members, and individuals contributing to spaces of migrant assistance. Asylum seekers flee their home countries because of detrimental conditions of violence, crime, poverty, or other hazards. This research explores transit migration through Mexico to the United States and aims to capture the lived experience of migrants through a qualitative ethnographic methodology and Border PAR [participatory action research] with migrants residing near border crossings and along migration routes to the United States. Learning more about who migrants are contributes to a sociological conceptualization of transit migration, and can provide recommendations for safer methods of migration to minimize the potential for harm and violence in the Borderlands.

Kelli Fuery (Creative and Cultural Industries)
Bizarre Objects: Hallucination and Transformation in the Cultural Field ($4,000)
Bizarre Objects explores the interconnected themes of hallucination, virtuality and transformation, specifically attending to our use of media objects. While hallucination (in a psychoanalytic context) is typically understood to identify clinically, that is, schizophrenic or psychotic experience, this project explores hallucination as expressed through creative work to describe the psychotic territory of cultural expressions. Fuery argues these creative works carry an unconscious intention of transforming unthought collective group experience into cultural behavior that, due to sharing, can be thought. These hallucinatory ‘bizarre objects,’ creatively produced within visual and sonic culture, have had a long history of reflecting the unconscious impact of socio-political events on collective consciousness. The main deliverable will be a monograph exploring how hallucination is part of everyday life, drawing attention to complex emotions, and generating transformation in mental growth.

Maliheh Ghajargar (Art)
Invisible Subjects: A Creativity Toolkit for Eco-sustainable AI (Jeffrey Griffith ’11 Junior Faculty Research Award, $5,000)
Recent research suggests that technological advancements, particularly those in Artificial Intelligence (AI), are reshaping creative works and industries. Sustainability researchers have investigated how AI tools are changing the ways we understand the planet and ecological patterns. As AI is trained on our biased data; it reflects our technocentric, anthropocentric biases, not only related to ecosystem management (Dauvergne, 2020) but also gender and race (Perez, 2021). A critical lens helps to see complex ways that AI can harm people and the planet, and it helps to expose biases. As a part of a bigger project on developing design toolkits to decolonize and diversify design and computing approaches towards sustainability and more than human design, this research proposal focuses on research, ideation, and development of a series of creativity tools such as card decks and tangibles to support the voice of the marginalized and underrepresented humans and nonhumans.

Micol Hebron (Art)
“Remember ________? You Won’t Believe What She Looks Like Now!” (a studio art exhibition of images that examine gender bias in artificial intelligence image generation) ($5,000)
This project will produce artwork for a professional exhibition of digital images that are strategically generated using artificial intelligence. This exhibition will feature wallpaper designed with over 50,000 digital images (made between 2023 and 2025) and 15-20 large-format framed images to be installed over the wallpaper. This exhibition will be accompanied by a series of essays authored by Hebron on visual literacy and gender bias in the generative artificial intelligence platform Midjourney.

This exhibition will incorporate and synthesize Hebron’s current research, which examines interpretations of gender and gender stereotypes as expressed through the computer vision of generative AI image platforms.  This body of work is investigating and critiquing how artificial intelligence platforms make decisions about how to construct visual depictions of gendered subjects and compositions.

Examples of this work can be seen in the AI portfolio at

Claudine Jaenichen (Art) 
People, Places, and Things: Design Perspectives on Evacuation Privilege ($5,000)
Evacuation privilege refers to the advantages specific individuals or groups have when it comes to evacuating safely, such as wealth bias, geographic location, access to resources, and social connections. Jaenichen’s second book challenges design practices that have reinforced inequities in public safety surrounding ableism and bias. The goal is positioning design as a critical partnership in creating more accessible and equitable pathways in thoughtful and meaningful evacuation processes. By reframing design as vernacular, readers are given access to understand and question decisions made for them despite their input. This book examines choices in design applied to objects, communication, connection, space, and service in the most immediate environments. By looking at evacuation privilege from the lens of design, this book will show how design reinforces privilege on a systemic level, how policy is made, where privilege is given, and where it’s not.

Stephanie Takaragawa (Sociology)
heart mountain pilgrimage ($2,000)
This grant will support Dr. Takaragawa’s attendance at the Heart Mountain Pilgrimage in July 2024 to conduct research on individuals who attend pilgrimage, the institution that is hosting pilgrimage, and meetings with the Heart Mountain staff to discuss the possibility of exhibiting Images and Imaginings of Internment: Comics and Illustrations of the Wartime Incarceration. This allows research among a new demographic of Japanese American incarcerees and their descendants for a new category of research, understanding how these individuals make connections to the WWII history, and how this impacts their sense of identity and activism. Takaragawa will study the cultural producers of the memorial sites and what their intentions are as educators and look at the pilgrimage itself to understand how individuals memorialize history and how this leads to the construction of places like Heart Mountain, which was the second of the 10 relocation sites to have a physical reconstructed presence.

Tom Zoellner (English)
The Bones of the City: New Southern Slavery and the Making of Modern America  ($2,000)
This book is an exploration of the convict leasing system that provided the labor for the building of Georgia’s key commercial infrastructure at the turn of the 20th century. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution had left a loophole: involuntary servitude could be used as “a punishment for crime.” Most of the forced laborers around Atlanta were imprisoned for petty misdemeanors such as spitting on the sidewalk, vagrancy, or sitting in the wrong section of a bus, and then sentenced to work for a handful of private corporations mining coal, harvesting turpentine or cutting timber. Southern Black activists played a long game of inveighing against this form of slavery, and it eventually reached the attention of white newspaper editors who treated it as a sensational anticorruption story and not as a matter of basic justice. The Georgia Legislature voted to ban convict leasing in 1906. This book asks how it was allowed to happen, and examines the means of its termination

Fowler School of Engineering, McGovern Foundation, Trusted Artificial Intelligence
This program provides a focused effort to develop a trusted AI curriculum at Chapman University that will be paired with undergraduate research opportunities to produce new generations of AI and ML engineers and scientists who are capable of building robust and transparent technical solutions, that can be relied upon and understood by those who use them.

Kelli Fuery (Creative and Cultural Industries)
Bizarre Objects: A Phenomenological Investigation of Trust through Creativity and AI ($10,000)

Outside the disciplinary-specific areas of computer science and engineering, narratives of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are typically binary, reduced to themes of good/evil, threat/cure, and utopia/dystopia. Like other digital media such as the cell phone, AI and ML computational technologies signal a historical and cultural interruption, albeit one that is predominantly misunderstood within everyday life. Embedded within such cultural narratives are themes of human-machine anxieties and hopes, control and regulation over identities and their representation, and concern over the impact of physical transformation in medium specificity and how this affects knowledge and practices. Rather than dismiss such lack of trust as ignorance or fear-based, this project questions how and why this uncertainty has occurred and focuses on the use of technology to inform socio-cultural attitudes and collective thinking.

Leatherby Libraries Supporting Open Access Research and Scholarship
The Leatherby Libraries Supporting Open Access Research and Scholarship SOARS program is designed to provide financial support to Chapman University faculty publishing the results of their research, scholarship, or creative activity in an Open Access (OA) journal. OA journals make research freely available to anyone, including those without subscription access, removing barriers to access while fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, allowing new insights, and increasing the impact of the research. The SOARS program can provide up to $3,500 to cover the cost of OA article processing charges. The articles will be posted in Digital Commons once published. Read more on the Leatherby Libraries blog.