To support the Humane Metrics for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HuMetricsHSS) initiative, Michigan State University has received a $309,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The collaborative HuMetricsHSS pilot aims to create a values-based framework that will enable humanities and social science scholars to tell more textured stories about the impact of their research and teaching. Read More
Michigan State University will use a three-year $1.2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to lead a multi-university research project to improve the teaching of less commonly taught languages, or LCTLs.
Faculty from MSU’s Center for Language Teaching Advancement, or CeLTA, housed in the College of Arts and Letters, will direct the initiative on behalf of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (formerly the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, or CIC).
Read the the MSU College of Arts & Letters Press Release and watch the video below for more on this project:
Here is the press release we wrote for the second Public Philosophy Journal grant from the Mellon Foundation:
Penn State has been awarded $549,000 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for an additional two years of development for the Public Philosophy Journal, an online space for accessible and rigorous scholarly discourse on issues of public concern. The project is a collaborative endeavor between the Department of Philosophy at Penn State and the Matrix Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University.
Supported during its first year by a $236,000 Mellon grant, the Public Philosophy Journal grew an active community of readers and curators on its development website while building the networking and publishing platform that will be released in beta early in 2015. The second and third years of funding will enable further development of the platform and infrastructure, ongoing community development, a graduate apprentice program with Penn State University Press, writing workshops, and sustainability planning. The journal expects to publish its first open-peer-reviewed scholarly artifacts in Fall 2015, with its first volume being complete by early 2016.
On Friday, October 4th, we received the good news that the Mellon Foundation’s Scholarly Communications and Information Technology program will provide $236K to support the development of the Public Philosophy Journal (PPJ, aka @PubPhilJ).
The grant marks the end of the beginning for the Public Philosophy Journal, a collaborative endeavor between the Department of Philosophy at Penn State and Matrix at Michigan State, to create an open access, open peer review digital publication intent on performing public philosophy as its mode of publication.
The Public Philosophy Journal, an innovative open access, open peer review online publication in philosophy, has received a one-year, $236,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The grant will support the development of the journal which, in addition to accepting traditional submissions, will also search the web each day for content at the intersection between philosophy and issues of public interest in order to identify digital conversations that might be developed further for scholarly publication.
University budgeting and strategic planning was the focus of the final Academic Leadership Program (ALP) sponsored by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) held at Penn State, April 12-14, 2012. No two topics have more impact on the life and direction of an institution than these.
In reflecting on this final ALP seminar (the other two were at Indiana University and the University of Chicago), I began to imagine what it might look like for Penn State to pursue a bold strategic vision of the new public research university in the 21st century. The vision would need to be grounded in the history of Penn State as a public institution, even if it would likely involve greatly diminished support from a Commonwealth intent on systematically starving the University of the resources that first made it possible over a century and a half ago.
At the center of the vision would be an unwavering commitment to the excellences of rigorous public research. The rigor would be rooted in a curriculum designed to cultivate in each student, undergraduate and graduate alike, a sense for the transformative power of inquiry and the imaginative intellectual abilities to discover new knowledge. The university would be “public” less because it receives public funding, and more because it is oriented toward public concerns and intent on pursuing the public good. Its research endeavor would be integrated into undergraduate and graduate teaching at all levels of the university. The historical commitment to ensuring that education remains accessible would be pursued on a global scale through the reach of the World Campus, and new technologies would be used to create new opportunities for innovative collaborative research and teaching. The new public research university would be smaller, more nimble, bolder and unwaveringly focused on initiatives that strengthen its core mission to pursue rigorous public research.
In her address to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation‘s Academic Leadership Program at the University of Chicago last Thursday, Martha Nussbaum offered a compelling defense of a liberal arts education. She advocated for an education for democracy in the face of increased global emphasis on education for economic growth.
In the United States and around the world education policy has come to be driven by a concern more for economic growth than for a flourishing democracy. One need only look as far as the 2006 Spellings Report (pdf) to see this trend at work:
“America’s national capacity of excellence, innovation and leadership in higher education will be central to our ability to sustain economic growth and social cohesiveness. Our colleges and universities will be a key source of the human and intellectual capital needed to increase workforce productivity and growth.” (Spellings, 7)
Nussbaum sought instead to articulate a set of educational virtues for democracy around which our institutions of higher education should mobilize. The three on which she focused were:
- Socratic self-criticism: the ability to argue coherently, to criticize thoughtfully and to hold one another accountable for the implications of our political policies and beliefs;
- Becoming a citizen of the world: the ability to understand and converse about global problems, the recognition that we are part of a global community;
- Narrative imagination: the ability to “read” the stories of others, to recognize that everyone has a internal life and a set of motivations that determines the way they relate to others.
These three virtues, decisive for the long term well-being of democracy, are cultivated largely through the traditional liberal arts curriculum which is increasingly under attack by those pressing for a more focused, narrower, professional education oriented toward economic growth.
As the Academic Leadership program at the University of Chicago unfolded, the tension between an education for democracy and an education for economic growth came more fully into focus. When we turned our attention to the research mission of the University, it seemed that the economic argument for research came to eclipse the concern for the virtues of democracy for which Nussbaum advocated.
Joseph Walsh, Vice President for Research at Northwestern University, began his presentation by emphasizing the educational mission of research, suggesting that in the classroom, we teach our students, but with research, we teach the wider world. However, he focused most of his comments on those research discoveries at Northwestern that had the most palpable impact on the economy, reminding us that four-fifths of all economic growth comes from technological development, and that much of that development happens at research universities. In this context, he outlined the argument he offers to the politicians in Washington whose funding support research universities seek: economic growth is driven by the research done at our best research universities; funding research increases employment opportunities. It is all about “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
As we returned from Chicago, I found myself reflecting on this tension between education for democracy and education for economic growth. Then, we were lucky enough to miss our connection from Dulles to State College. I say ‘lucky’ here, because the long drive from Dulles offered a number of us the opportunity to talk further about our experience at the University of Chicago. Driving through rural Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, we began to focus our attention on what a major land-grant research university has to offer students educationally that they can’t get from smaller, private liberal arts colleges. We kept coming back to the research mission of the university.We began to consider ways to integrate the research enterprise more tightly into the undergraduate experience at Penn State. Students need to be exposed to the passion for discovery that animates all great research endeavors. They need more opportunities to work closely with our research professors so that they might feel the power and excitement of research as an educational endeavor. To accomplish this on a grand scale at Penn State would likely require substantive changes to the general education curriculum and other significant financial resources, but I am convinced that if we are able to integrate the research enterprise more deeply into the undergraduate experience, we will have begun to cultivate in our students the very virtues Nussbaum suggests are critical for a flourishing democracy. Students engaged with research will learn self-criticism, the concerns of a global community and narrative imagination as they come to experience precisely these abilities at work in our most excellent academic researchers.
Following such a path at Penn State would, I imagine, illustrate the extent to which economic growth is not so much a goal of research, but an important, albeit secondary, outgrowth of an education rooted in traditional liberal arts virtues infused with a deep engagement with the research enterprise. Perhaps an education for democracy can also be an education for economic growth–the history of the American land-grant system of higher education seems to suggest that this is precisely the case. Perhaps the best way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act is to redouble our efforts to combine rigorous research with the long standing virtues of an education in the liberal arts.
Sometimes without looking, one finds a paradigm – an example that can serve as a model.
Last week I visited Indiana University as a one of Penn State’s Academic Leadership Fellows in the Academic Leadership Program of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (Big 10 Academic Alliance).
I went expecting to hear administrators from across the Big Ten speak about best administrative practices and about the role of the public research university in the 21st century. Although I received what I expected in that sense, I did not anticipate encountering a figure who embodied some of my own most deeply held educational convictions: Herman B. Wells.
Wells, who died in 2000, was the 11th president of Indiana University. Born in 1902, he was the youngest state university president at the age of 36, in 1937. While there are many important contributions Wells made to the educational mission of Indiana University, I would like to focus here on three, each of which embodies one of the themes that became important to me during the seminar at Indiana University entitled The Evolving University.
In 1958, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation was established by the presidents of the Big Ten Conference. Herman B Wells was one of its founding members and lasting champions. As I listened to former president of Michigan University, James Duderstadt, speak at Indiana about the importance of increased collaboration between public universities in the 21st century, the foresight of Wells and his generation of presidents came into focus.
Duderstadt described a 21st century world that does not respect traditional boundaries between regions and geopolitical borders. He spoke about the need for more collaboration between universities and the hope that we might reduce the zero sum attitude that establishes intensely competitive relationships between us and places us in extremely predatory environments with one another. The vision of cooperation Wells laid out and helped put into practice, places the CIC universities in a strong position to cultivate yet more cooperative relationships given the 50 year history of collaboration and interaction on which we can draw.
Wells was well known as an advocate for student self-governance, for a desegregated university and for academic freedom. He worked tirelessly and unobtrusively to end racial segregation in the dining halls and on campus housing; he protected Alfred Kinsey’s controversial and ground breaking research on human sexuality, and he worked to preserve the woods on campus. These are all elements of what I would call his highly cultivated ethical imagination: the ability to imagine one’s way into the position of each individual other. Wells held office hours for students, and they came to talk with him about their individual experiences. He signed each individual diploma himself, over 62,000 of them, because he wanted “a sense of direct identification with each graduate.”
This capacity for ethical imagination serves as a model for what is possible when administrative service is able to make decisions for the mission of the university by attending carefully and with care to each individual member of the community.
In her remarks, Provost Karen Hanson spoke of the suspicions faculty have about administrators. She traced that suspicion to the late ’60’s and early ’70s when the institutional authority of universities were called into question. She then spoke about the qualities of a good administrator: the ability to disagree without being retributive, the need to be open and patient, circumspection. She also reminded us that the word “administer” derives from the Latin, “ministrare“, which means “to serve”.
I left Indiana with a much deeper appreciation of the nature of administration as a way of serving.
Wells put it this way: “Remind yourself daily that general administration must be the servant, never the master, of the academic community. It is not an end unto itself and exists only to further the academic enterprise.”
And as we left Indiana, the news about the Sandusky indictment broke, and we returned to a Penn State transformed. In the week since, the nature of administration as service and the need for ethical imagination and cooperation have taken on a deeper and more urgent meaning.
I am very excited to have been awarded a 2009 Education Technology Services Summer Faculty Fellowship. The project I will be working on this summer, Socratic Politics in Digital Dialogue, is designed to explore the opportunities digital expression offers to enhance, deepen, expand and promote my academic scholarship in philosophy by focusing on issues related to the Socratic practice of politics.