New York, June 8, 2023 – The Teagle Foundation, one of the few organizations dedicated to strengthening liberal arts education, marked a robust year of grantmaking, awarding grants that reach over 100 higher education institutions to launch or grow programs offering broad access to humanities-focused education.
The grants, which totalled $5.38 million, support novel approaches for students of all backgrounds and majors to engage with literature, philosophy and history. The goal is to broaden students’ understanding of the world, strengthen ability to think critically, write clearly, speak with confidence, contend with differing viewpoints and deepen civic awareness and engagement.
“Colleges and universities should of course prepare students for the marketplace, but also for informed and engaged participation in a democratic society,” said Andrew Delbanco, president of the Teagle Foundation. “This latest set of grants represents our commitment to helping young people learn how to think, how to listen to one another, and how to engage respectfully with points of view different from their own.”
A Focused But Flexible Funding Approach
Teagle’s grantmaking is organized around four main programmatic areas, each designed to address a specific issue, but structured so institutions can tailor activities to reflect their assets and their communities’ needs. Planning grants are intended to cover the full scope of developing a potential program; implementation grants support a new program that reaches a significant portion of the undergraduate student population.
Teagle’s main program areas, and related grants in the 2023 fiscal year, are:
Cornerstone: Learning for Living
Modeled after a successful pilot program at Purdue University this joint endeavor with the National Endowment for the Humanities helps colleges and universities reimagine undergraduate “general education” in a modern, exciting manner. In seminar-style classes, students of all professional aspirations work with a common set of transformative texts chosen by each institution. By reading and discussing the same works, students become part of a community and contend with differing perspectives, which is crucial for active participation in our democracy.
Among the Cornerstone programs launching due to grants received during Teagle’s 2023 fiscal year are
“The Human Experience: A Humanities Initiative for the Texas A&M University System,” an educational framework integrated into the Gen-Ed requirements at ten campuses. It will be anchored by a gateway course that introduces students to the humanities using transformative texts and serves as the launching pad for a new general education certificate program.
Vanderbilt University’s “First-Year Core,” a required first-year two-semester sequence of reading- and writing-intensive courses in which students engage with key common texts from various eras and cultures.
These are joined by new programs at Catawba College (NC), North Carolina State University, Northern Kentucky University, Saint Louis University, Transylvania University (KY), University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of Puerto Rico-Maygüez.
Ten planning awards went to California State University Maritime Academy; Sonoma State University; Houston Community College; Howard University; Lyon College (AR); Marshall University (WV); Rhodes College (TN); Trinity Washington University; University of North Dakota; and Victoria College (TX).
Knowledge for Freedom (KFF)
Knowledge for Freedom programs invite underserved high school students to study humanity’s deepest questions about leading lives of purpose and civic responsibility. Between the junior and senior years of high school, students come into residence on a college campus, where they experience the intensity of a seminar-sized discussion taught by college professors focused on major works of philosophy and literature. Over the following year, while applying to college as high school seniors, the students engage in civic initiatives inspired by the recognition that their lives are interconnected with the lives of others.
Knowledge for Freedom programs launching due to grants received during Teagle’s 2023 fiscal year include: ; Hollins University (VA); Washington College (MD); Loyola University Chicago; North Central College (IL); Nova Southeastern University (FL); St. Joseph’s University (NY); University of Massachusetts Amherst (MA); Queens Community House (NY); and University of Rhode Island (RI).
In addition, planning awards went to Dominican University of California (CA); Kennesaw State University (GA); Kent State University (OH); The University of Texas at San Antonio (TX).
Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts
Joint program with Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support statewide, regional, or consortial academic partnerships between public two-year and private four-year colleges to facilitate transfer and completion of bachelor’s degrees. Curricular bridge-building provides more options to complete education in a timely fashion and small independent colleges are well-suited to help transfer students reach goals. At the same time, community college students bring diversity of background and lived experience, enhancing the educational environment for all students.
Institutions awarded Transfer Pathways grants in the 2023 fiscal year include:
Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities: 17 independent colleges collaborating on six sector-wide transfer pathways for the most popular liberal arts majors among Iowa community college students, transfer admission guarantee and a reverse transfer policy
Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and Virginia Community College System: 13 independent colleges launching or expanding statewide transfer pathways for nine liberal arts majors
A coalition of independent colleges seeking to build sector-wide pathways with community colleges represented by Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education, Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges, Pittsburgh Council for Higher Education, and Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania
Education for American Civic Life
Supports efforts to prepare students to become informed and engaged participants in the civic life of their local and national communities.
“Our new grantees came from the broadest range of institutions to date and showed enormous creativity in how they’d use our programs’ structures to deepen their students’ education and civic awareness,” said Delbanco. “We’re excited by this because it proves people remain interested in and need the richness of the humanities, even as our society grows more digital-first and skills-focused.”
Please visit The Teagle Foundation for a full list of grantees, individual program descriptions and more background on Teagle initiatives.
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About The Teagle Foundation
The Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which it sees as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life. Its aim is to serve as a catalyst for the improvement of teaching and learning in the arts and sciences while addressing issues of financial sustainability and accountability in higher education.