The charge of the Teagle Foundation is “to support and strengthen liberal arts education, which we see as fundamental to meaningful work, effective citizenship, and a fulfilling life.” Among the strengths of liberal arts education is the marriage of content and context to cultivate in students the knowledge and skills they need to achieve this vision.
In consideration of “effective citizenship,” the Foundation is especially concerned with undergraduates’ knowledge about American democratic institutions and the general decline in civility in discourse within and beyond our campus communities. Colleges and universities often assume their incoming students received prior preparation on topics such as the formation of the American republic or the crafting of the Constitution. In doing so, they miss opportunities to help undergraduates develop more a sophisticated understanding of the history and fragility of democracy. We encourage institutions to build on these themes across their curriculum and to invite deeper academic inquiry on critical issues that vex our local, national, and global communities.
Through “Education for American Civic Life,” the Foundation seeks to elevate the civic objectives of liberal arts education through faculty-led efforts within the curriculum grounded in the issues that define and challenge American democracy. The Foundation welcomes participation from a diverse array of institutions—community colleges, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive and research universities—that aim to strengthen civic education across the undergraduate curriculum and across disciplines. While grappling with matters of civic knowledge, it is the Foundation’s intention for projects to also mitigate uncivil speech and behavior. Successful proposals are expected move beyond mere additions to the course catalog and reflect an approach to integrative learning that serves the student body and can be sustained beyond the life of the grant.