campus partner(s)

Purdue University






Cornerstone: Learning for Living

award date


project director

Melinda Zook

Purdue University

Grant Summary

$175,000 over 24 months to Purdue University to scale up its recently established Cornerstone program, a 15-credit undergraduate certificate focused in liberal arts disciplines that is specifically geared for the highly concentrated degree programs in engineering, management, and nursing. In the Cornerstone program, first-year students enroll in a two-semester sequence called Transformative Texts that uses a Great Books approach to engage students with enduring questions while cultivating writing, research, and presentation skills. Students then proceed to 200- and 300-level courses organized in five themes: science and technology; environment and sustainability; healthcare and medicine; management and organizations; and conflict resolution and justice. Students are expected to take three courses in a given theme. Most of the Cornerstone courses satisfy general education requirements or are recommended electives for majors in engineering, management, and nursing. Such thematically aligned courses would better link the liberal arts to engineering, business, and nursing students’ professional aspirations while enabling them to cultivate the skills in critical thinking, communication, and teamwork that are the hallmark of the liberal arts. For example, Cornerstone courses could help students understand the dynamic interplay between corporate practices, labor unions, and consumers; the role of modern weapons and satellite technology in contemporary international relations; or the ethical dilemmas raised by developments in the healthcare industry. At the same time, liberal arts students taking the Cornerstone courses are introduced to the worlds of engineering, technology, science, medicine, business, and public policy and develop a knowledge base that will serve them in the sectors of the economy they may expect to work in – for instance, sales, management and operations, and healthcare administration and services.