campus partner(s)

American Council of Learned Societies






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Steven C. Wheatley

American Council of Learned Societies

Grant Summary

$92,100 over 22 months. ACLS will convene a working group of liberal arts faculty, institutional leaders, educational researchers, and learned society leaders who will address the vitality of the teacher-scholar model and its relation to the success of general liberal arts education across the institutional spectrum of higher education. In today's changing educational environments, tight budgets pressure institutions to use adjunct faculty, students are less likely to grasp the value of studying the liberal arts, and assessment of learning outcomes play an ever-increasing role. How should we think about the career development of faculty in relation to the educational development of students? We need a "unified field theory" of academic effectiveness. This need is especially critical for education in the liberal arts. That students specializing in a particular discipline will benefit from their teacher's identical specialization seems apparent. What is less clear is the effect disciplinary research may have on the more general goals of a liberal arts education.

Using quantifiable as well as descriptive research methods, the group will analyze the conceptual connections between the teacher-scholar model and a focus on learning outcomes, asking whether there is a relationship between the "value-added" of educationally successful institutions of higher education and their local institutional cultures of professional expectations. It is hoped that this research will seed a trans-institutional network of scholars and college/university leaders concerned with the viability of faculty-powered, student-focused liberal arts education, a network in which ACLS will be an active participant.