The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Columbia College a prestigious $100,000 grant to revise and strengthen the centrality of liberal arts education in the college’s undergraduate programs.
The grant will enable the college to create a framework in which the liberal arts are infused more intentionally into core courses. Students will gain a better understanding of how each academic subject area attempts to understand what it means to be human, and they will strengthen the critical thinking skills necessary to be agents for positive change in a challenging twenty-first century world. This opportunity speaks directly to key components of the mission of the college–leadership, diversity and inclusion, and social justice.
“We are honored to receive this highly competitive grant from the Mellon Foundation,” said President Beth Dinndorf. “Receiving a Mellon grant is a true mark of distinction for an institution of higher education. Columbia College is being recognized for the transformational work we do with our students. This grant celebrates that work and challenges us to keep improving. As the recognition from the Mellon and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching illustrates, Columbia College is gaining increasing renown for curricular innovation and teaching that strengthens student outcomes, as evidenced by placement of 96% of last year’s graduates in careers or graduate school.”
Initiatives that will be launched during the 2016-17 academic year include curriculum revisions, faculty development, and undergraduate interdisciplinary work in the humanities. While Columbia College students already engage in experiential learning, the Mellon grant will allow more students to be exposed to the work of social justice advocates and gain an understanding of their own potential to become change agents. Plans are already in place for student excursions to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
“To execute this reimagined core curriculum, we will rely on our strong faculty,” Dinndorf continued. “They share an entrepreneurial spirit, fueled by new ideas and research and a hands-on approach to teaching and learning. The opportunity made possible by the Mellon Foundation’s gift has generated tremendous enthusiasm and energy that is already benefitting our students.”