Grants in Higher Education



Click here for other projects in Teaching and Learning

November 2010
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
Establishing an Outcomes-Based Accreditation Process in Biochemistry / Molecular Biology
Project Leaders: Peter J. Kennelly (Virginia Tech) and Adele Wolfson (Wellesley College)


$40,000 over 18 months to develop an accreditation process for student majors and for biochemistry and molecular biology programs. This discipline-specific process will allow ASBMB to assess students' specialized learning in biochemistry and molecular biology, as well as to evaluate the ability of departments and programs to develop students' capacities for communication, collaboration, integrative thinking, and social and personal responsibility. It is expected that the data and findings that emerge from the certification process will be helpful to faculty in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their programs; to prospective students who can use the data to compare biochemistry and molecular biology programs at different institutions; and to potential employers and graduate school admissions committees who will be able to evaluate students emerging from a range of programs. This project builds on the findings of ASBMB's White Paper, "Evaluation of the Biochemistry / Molecular Biology Major as Designed, by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology."

November 2009
American Academy of Religion (AAR)
Assessing the Long-Term Impacts of Liberal Education on Religious Studies Majors
Project Leaders: Timothy Renick (Georgia State University)


$40,000 over 25 months to work with five religion departments to develop, test, and refine an instrument that assesses the long-term effects of the undergraduate religion major in promoting fundamental learning outcomes of a liberal education. Once successfully tested and refined, the instrument will be shared and promoted to all AAR members. The AAR ancitipates that data gathered will help faculty and departments improve individual courses and the major as a whole. This project builds on findings of the AAR's White Paper, "The Religious Studies Major and Liberal Education."

American Economic Association (AEA)
Pilot Projects Implementing Suggested Economics Initiatives
Project Leaders: David Colander (Middlebury College) and KimMarie McGoldrick (The University of Richmond)


$40,000 over 20 months to develop two initiatives that will help economics departments better address the goals of a liberal education. The first initiative seeks to develop modules that incorporate into undergraduate economics courses "big think" questions, that is, genuinely open-ended questions of enduring relevance to all economists. The second initiative aims to influence the teaching of graduate economics through a "creativity boot camp" that will help graduate students develop a more meaningful research agenda, as well as better prepare them to integrate broader liberal arts themes in their teaching. These initiatives build on the recommendations of the AEA White Paper, "The Economics Major and a Liberal Education."

National History Center (NHC)
Follow up to the History Major and Liberal Education Project
Project Leaders: James Grossman (The Newberry Library) and Stanley Katz (Princeton University)


$40,000 over 26 months to work with the history departments at Beloit College, Miami University, and St. John's University (NY) to implement specific recommendations of the NHC White Paper, "The History Major and Undergraduate Liberal Education."

November 2006
American Academy of Religion
The Religion Major and Liberal Education | White paper
Project Leaders: Timothy Renick (Georgia State University)


$75,000 over 23 months. In a context of growing and often violent conflict between religious ideologies, the academic study of religion plays an increasingly crucial role in undergraduate liberal education. The evolving nature of the field—both with regard to global events and to the changing nature of the discussion of values within the modern academy—necessitates a re-assessment of the undergraduate religion major and its role within the larger goals of liberal education. The American Academy of Religion (AAR) proposes an initiative to bring teachers of religion, administrators, and major stakeholders together to think, discuss, and write about the challenges faced by the discipline and to posit potential solutions. Through seven major initiatives—including intensive working group meetings, a Chairs / Leadership workshop, a special edition of Religious Studies News, "seed grants" to member institutions, and two special sessions at consecutive Annual Meetings of the AAR—the working group will draft and revise a White Paper outlining recommendations, best practices, and potential assessment tools for re-imagining the undergraduate major in religion.     

American Economic Association
The Purpose and Practice of Economic Education as Related to Liberal Education Goals | White paper
Project Leaders: David Colander (Middlebury College) and KimMarie McGoldrick (The University of Richmond)


$74,500 over 24 months. The American Economic Association's Committee on Economic Education (AEA-CEE) will investigate how the economics major and economics coursework taken by students in other majors can more effectively support the goals of a liberal education. Key issues that are expected to arise out of these discussions include the skills developed in entry-level courses, the personalization of economics for students, and the inevitable tensions and tradeoffs in addressing both the technical and practical aspects of the discipline. Members of the AEA-CEE and authors of prominent earlier studies on the economics major and profession will be the key stakeholders in developing the study, but many others will contribute.

The overall project entails several initiatives—an initial conference, several smaller meetings, surveys of recent economics graduates, economics faculty, and employers of recent economics majors, a mini-conference of employers, panel discussions and paper presentations at the national AEA meetings as well as the four regional professional meetings, and an ongoing discussion of the issues on the economics teaching listserv—leading to a final White Paper and a set of responses to that paper. The working group will propose that the final report, comments, and lists of best practices should be published by a major economics journal to assure further dissemination and discussion.   

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Evaluation of the Biochemistry / Molecular Biology major as defined by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology | White paper
Project Leaders: Adele Wolfson (Wellesley College)


$75,000 over 20 months. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) will examine the undergraduate major in biochemistry/molecular biology and how it is related to the broad goals of a liberal education. Since 1992, ASBMB has supported a recommended curriculum for the undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology which emphasizes skills rather than coursework. With expertise from stakeholders such as faculty and administrators at liberal arts colleges, research universities, and medical schools, industry employers, textbook and science writers, funding agencies, and members of the science education community, ASBMB will assess how the recommended curriculum is being received and implemented in different types of institutions, as well as evaluate the success of their graduates. The working group will consider the essential elements of an undergraduate major in biochemistry and molecular biology, and how new research on how people learn—as well as other elements such as communication, collaboration across diverse communities, ethical considerations, and more—can best be incorporated into the curriculum. The results will be showcased at a session at the annual meeting of the ASBMB—held in conjunction with experimental biology—which will reach both those in biochemistry and molecular biology departments, as well as those who can apply the group's findings to other science programs.   

Center for Hellenic Studies
Classics and Undergraduate Liberal Education | White paper
Project Leaders: Kenny Morrell (Rhodes College)


$74,912 over 13 months. To examine the place of classics as a discipline within the enterprise of liberal education, the Center for Hellenic Studies proposes to construct a database of information on major programs of study and their relationship to the general curricula at approximately 150 colleges and universities in the United States. At a small subset (6) of these institutions, the working group will conduct an assessment of learning outcomes among majors and non-majors, as well as conduct focus groups of majors, non-majors, and other individuals connected with the programs (i.e., stakeholders such as alumni, contributing faculty members, administrators, parents of students, and others) to explore the connection between perceived and actual outcomes. The research on these campuses will form the basis of case studies, which the group will present—along with findings from the process of building the database—to a variety of audiences in venues designed to generate conversations about the role of classics in liberal education. The overall goal of this initiative is to generate reflection and discussion among practitioners and stakeholders in the field as a means of better understanding the actual practices of the discipline and creatively developing ways to improve approaches to the study of classics. In these ways, the group hopes to contribute more effectively to the goals of liberal education. 

Modern Language Association
Language, Literature, and Liberal Education | White paper
Project Leaders: Rosemary Feal


$74,505 over 20 months. The Modern Language Association (MLA) proposes to reassess undergraduate majors in language and literature in the light of globalization, the proliferation of new media and its challenges to book culture, and vocational pressures. It is our view that a twenty-first-century liberal education must promote the linguistic powers, humanistic skills of analysis and argument, and cross-cultural awareness required for receiving and articulating ideas persuasively on an international stage, where the capacity to work comfortably in more than one language is the expectation and the norm. The MLA will focus on the problems today's language and literature classroom presents to both teachers and students. Study in language and literature engages oftentimes sensitive questions of moral and aesthetic value, social justice, social action, personal and collective identity, philosophical purpose, and religious belief. How can discussions and assignments best support liberal learning that will motivate a broader base student body to develop critical thinking, sophisticated writing, and cross-cultural understanding as students wrestle with the challenges presented by serious intellectual inquiry in language and literature? We will identify the knowledge and tools that teachers need to bring language, writing, and literature alive for students whose engagement with print culture is limited. We will suggest programs of study that will enable students who major in language and literature (whether in English or other language and literature departments) to pursue course itineraries that put them in touch with a broader array of intellectual resources than any single department contains and involve faculty members with appropriate expertise in a diversity of fields. Following different educational pathways, students at every level can constantly expand their capacities to read, write, and converse in English as well as develop fluency in one or two languages other than English. We wish to contribute positively to progress on educational problems associated with diversity and motivate change at the level both of individual teaching practice and programmatic organization with special reference to graduate education and the preparation of future faculty members.   

National History Center
The History Major and the Undergraduate Liberal Education | White paper
Project Leaders: James Grossman (The Newberry Library) and Stanley Katz (Princeton University)


$75,000 over 18 months. The National History Center will assemble a working group of faculty members at college and university history departments, representatives of professions in which history graduates find employment (namely journalism and law), and senior representatives of other organizations devoted to higher education to explore the relationship of the history major to the modern undergraduate liberal arts curriculum, as well as take up the questions of what history students do in their adult lives, how those trajectories relate to liberal education, and how they use the historical understanding they have acquired in college. Building on the Center's History Education Policy initiative—which is aimed at increasing the role of historians in public policy as related to history education—and drawing on the resources and recent efforts of the American Historical Association (including its extensive database of history departments), the group will undertake several initiatives: an initial strategy meeting of what information the group would like to see collected and a survey of goals, mission statements, and requirements of the history major; discussions of such topics as the relationship of coverage to methodology, the role of student research in learning history, the training of graduate students to be effective teachers, the best ways to use history to encourage civic engagement in students, and the relationship of structure to student choice in managing an undergraduate history program; interviews with stakeholders; and open forums at professional meetings of historians. The group's two principal investigators will draft the White Paper, offer it for comment by group members, and then present it at AHA's January 2008 annual meeting, as well as at subsequent meeting that will bring together a group of about 50 people (comprised of stakeholders, members of the press, legislative staff, and education advocacy organizations) who will offer advice on disseminating the paper and building on the resulting ideas.