Muhlenberg Receives Three-Year Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Resources will help the College strengthen liberal arts practice.

 Friday, June 30, 2017 11:31 AM

Pictured: Crystian Massengill '18 participates in a discussion with Sharon Albert, senior lecturer in religion studies, his summer research mentor. Photo by Rebecca Rohn.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Muhlenberg College a $600,000 three-year grant to advance the liberal arts, interdisciplinary learning and faculty-student collaborative scholarship.

"This grant is a major affirmation of the quality of Muhlenberg’s liberal arts curriculum and the commitment of our faculty to bringing out the full intellectual and personal potential of our students through a rigorous, integrated learning experience," said President John I. Williams, Jr. "Thanks to the Mellon Foundation's support, our faculty will bring new curricular and co-curricular innovations to the classroom and to research opportunities that engage our students. It is an investment in the liberal arts and the kind of faculty-student collaborations at which Muhlenberg excels, and it will boost numerous programs for years to come."

The funded initiative, "Practicing the Liberal Arts: Developing and Applying Scholarly Skills," will strengthen Muhlenberg through four initiatives across the humanities and humanistic social sciences curriculum:

  • Deepening faculty expertise in teaching liberal arts scholarly skills to first-year students
  • Strengthening the curriculum in programs to include a focus on disciplinary research methods early in a students’ experience, particularly in humanities and humanistic social science programs 
  • Developing new curricular approaches that progressively advance student learning and research aptitude across the entire Muhlenberg experience
  • Supporting new faculty-student research collaborations in the field, including in local communities and others around the globe

"Our faculty and students are deeply engaged in the practice of the liberal arts and advanced integrative learning across the curriculum," said Provost Kathleen Harring. "This exciting new grant builds on Muhlenberg's array of initiatives in high impact educational practice, including our new human diversity and global engagement requirement and new opportunities for short-term student study abroad. We are grateful for the additional momentum that this grant gives us to support the passion our faculty and students feel for bringing the liberal arts to life in the classroom, scholarship and interdisciplinary studies."

Examples of existing faculty/student scholarly collaborations that the grant will build upon include oral histories, documentary research projects and other public digital scholarship. For example, students working with professors Joe Elliot (art) and Lora Taub (media & communication) conducted oral histories with former slate, iron and garment workers. And students working with professors Sue Clemens (history) and Gail Eisenberg (business) documented the stories of the Jewish needle traders who developed one of the primary industries in the Lehigh Valley.

The Mellon Foundation has funded several Muhlenberg initiatives in the recent past. These have included a $100,000 one-year grant in 2013-14 for a new integrative learning requirement, and a $428,000 three-year grant that is supporting the new interdisciplinary learning programs focused on a global curriculum and related overseas study.

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college located in Allentown, Pa., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences as well as selected pre-professional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.