Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Rutgers Today.
Three of the recipients of the Open and Affordable Textbooks (OAT) Project grants are faculty at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. They include Xenia Morin, Natalya Voloshchuk and Jill Lipoti, with projected savings for their students of $23,945.00.
What is the Open and Affordable Textbooks Project?
In 2016, President Robert Barchi asked the libraries to pilot the OAT Project to address soaring textbook costs and to introduce more affordable materials into the classroom. The original plan was to provide 12 grants to faculty to incorporate low-cost course materials into their classes. The libraries quickly expanded the pilot program to 32 grants (for 32 classes) due to the higher than expected interest, impacting courses across the university.
“I am truly honored to be selected. It is an exciting time in the Agriculture and Food System program and I am very grateful to the Rutgers libraries for providing this opportunity to me and our students,” said Xenia Morin, undergraduate program director in the Department of Plant Biology. “Much has been written on the topic “Feeding America’s Cities” but no one has brought different writings and different perspectives together in one place. This grant, with the support our librarians, will help me to take a giant leap forward. I look forward to our journey ahead.”
The OAT Project is a collaboration among Rutgers University Libraries, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) and the Office of Information Technology to address sky-rocketing textbook costs.
Rutgers University Libraries hopes to build on the momentum of the OAT Project to bring more savings to students according to Krisellen Maloney, vice president for information services and university librarian at Rutgers University.
“The Libraries are committed to doing everything we can to improve the well-being and education of our students,” said Maloney. “We look forward to finding additional opportunities to lower textbook costs without sacrificing the rigorous academic standards our students expect of their classroom experience and education at Rutgers.”
SEBS Projects and Projected Student Savings
Grant Recipient: Xenia Morin, undergraduate program director, Department of Plant Biology
Project: Advanced Topics in Agriculture and Food Systems: Feeding America’s Cities and Applied Practical Applications in Agriculture and Food System. This project is for a new course (Advanced Topics), based on a comparison of the cost of a commonly used text. Dr. Morin will write, edit, and annotate the first food systems book at Rutgers. Taught: Fall 2017, Spring 2017
45 students impacted per year | Projected savings per year: $2,525.00
Grant Recipient: Natalya Voloshchuk, teaching instructor, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology
Project: Experimental Biochemistry. This project will replace the current text with open and free alternatives and a self-developed lab manual. Taught: Fall 2017
60 students impacted per year | Projected savings per year: $19,140.00
Grant Recipient: Jill Lipoti, assistant teaching professor, Department of Human Ecology
Project: Introduction to Sustainability and Sustainability; Food Waste, and the Food-Energy-Water Nexus. The first project will update an existing open textbook, while the second project is for a new course and based on a comparison of the cost of a commonly used text. Dr. Lipoti will develop materials for both courses. Taught: Fall 2017
45 students impacted per year | Projected savings per year: $2,280.00