Five colleges receive grant to enhance a liberal arts education

By Katie Landeck

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In an effort to explore how digital technologies such as video-taped lectures and online archives can enhance a liberal arts education, the Five Colleges have received a four-year $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, according to a press release.

The grant will fund the “Curricular Innovations” project, a two-pronged approach to understand how technology can be used to teach the humanities.

“Strengthening use and access to digital humanities tools and techniques will support efforts of our humanities colleagues to remain current in their teaching methods and will prepare students for the more technologically enhanced environment that will be the future world of work in humanities,” said Five Colleges Executive Director Neal Abraham in the release.

The first part of the project, titled “Bringing Liberal Arts and Professional Education,” under the direction of deans faculty members from the Five Colleges will work to combine elements associated with liberal arts education such as developing communication skills and making connections across disciplines, with profession-focused instruction according to the release.

The grant will help to support faculty seminars, curriculum developments, team teachings and activities involving professional school graduate students in the liberal arts courses, according to the release. Possible areas of interest include environmental studies, public health, business and public policy.

For the second part, titled “Embedding the Digital in the Humanities,” faculty members will explore ways to use digital tools in the classroom by “creating the infrastructure for digital humanities to thrive, integrating digital humanities into the curriculum and developing resources for its use in the classroom.”

According to the release, some professors have already implemented these types of programs into the curriculum. For example, at Amherst College an art history professor used digital photos of mosaics and Pompeii and used them to create a virtual reconstruction of a house.

–          Katie Landeck, Collegian Staff