campus partner(s)

Calvin College






Fresh Thinking

award date


project director

Gail Heffner

Calvin College

Grant Summary

$99,340 over 19 months. Calvin College has always worked at the nexus of theory and practice, infusing liberal arts education even through the teaching of its professional programs, and placing high value on engaged scholarship, service learning, and the development of educational partnerships with its community. Building on this history, Calvin will convene a working group—composed of faculty, administrators, trustees, alumni, students, and community members—to study the relationship between the liberal arts and the particularity of place. Key questions for the group include: “How can the liberal arts tradition serve the common good in a particular place? How should this particular place influence and shape the liberal arts tradition at Calvin? How can we use our city as text to strengthen liberal arts education for our students?”

Informed by the literature on the subject, invited speakers, interviews with faculty, students, and alumni, and consultation with other colleges and universities, the group will work as a whole and in sub-groups over the grant period to produce three deliverables:

  • A white paper that will identify how the liberal arts can influence the burgeoning “civic engagement” / community-partnership literature and practice in higher education.
  • Long-term partnerships between local colleges and universities to do collaborative planning on ways to help college students understand and embrace their role as liberally educated citizens of a particular place.
  • Transferable resources for the liberal arts community, including six city-based case studies for liberal arts classes that will provide other institutions with not only the studies themselves, but bibliographies of relevant theory that links liberal arts content with the specific local issue, suggestions for how the case might be used in courses, as well as pedagogical suggestions for individual or team-based work, and suggestions for how to involve community leaders in the design of a locally situated study.