campus partner(s)

New York University






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Joy Connolly

New York University

Grant Summary

$65,000 over 27 months. What is the role of the liberal arts in preparing students for life in a liberal democracy? More specifically, what can be gleaned from ancient and pre-modern literature, art, philosophy, and history—that is, those subjects that have been traditionally viewed as the humanistic core of a liberal arts education—that may enhance students' development as citizens and reform educational practices at colleges and universities? Distinguished scholars and teachers from New York University, Miami University of Ohio, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, Princeton University, and University of Michigan who share common interests in the scholarship of education; in Greek and Roman literature, culture, and political theory; and in the reception of the classical tradition from early modernity through today, will comprise the working group. They will examine the relationship of this humanistic core of a liberal arts education to the broader enterprise of civic engagement, looking especially at how colleges and universities may enrich students' understanding of the history and purpose of the liberal arts by framing their core humanities curriculum as a project of civic engagement. They will also conduct focus groups with faculty from their own and neighboring institutions, to gather a range of opinion about civic education, to generate curricular proposals, and to identify ways of integrating faculty initiative with the goals of the administration. The group will organize a conference on civic engagement, one product of which will be a collection of essays for public readership. Focusing on the unique past, present, and future contributions of ancient and pre-modern studies, the collection will address common misperceptions of liberal arts education and make a case for the liberal arts' involvement in education for democratic citizenship.