Making the humanities a priority

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Grant funding will help community colleges grow valuable humanities programs.

Last week, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded grants to eight community colleges for humanities projects. That number is a fraction of the total number of projects recognized by the NEH; in all, 188 projects are getting grant funding. But the humanities are getting more attention at community colleges.

That’s good for both students and employers, Andrew Rusnak told the Community College Journal for a December/January article on building a creative workforce. Rusnak is executive director of the Community College Humanities Association.

“Smart employers know the value that humanities can bring to the table,” said Rusnak. “Companies want an imaginative contribution from employees to improve efficiency and make better products. That’s more valuable to them than someone who can just put widgets together.”

The NEH-funded projects will allow for curriculum development and the study of cultures. For example, Arizona’s Diné College will study and document Navajo art and artists. At Indian River State College, NEH funding supports a two-year project to create new digital course modules on Florida’s African-American history. Also in Florida, Santa Fe College’s grant project focuses on expanding ethics education through development of Ethics Across the Curriculum workshops, an ethics certificate program, an “Ethics Bowl” and community service activities.

In Oklahoma, Rose State College will work with Mid-Del Schools to strengthen humanities learning and pathways to higher education for underserved high school students. And Washington’s Whatcom Community College will lead a curriculum development project that would result in new courses on the history, cultures and science of the Salish Sea.

This week, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a combined $3.88 million to the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to support their Humanities for All initiative.

The initiative started in 2017 with a $1.73 million grant from the Mellon Foundation. Humanities for All strives to provide a more dynamic learning experience and improve transfer success for students.  Part of CCBC’s and JHU’s collaboration includes a Hopkins Summer Humanities Research Experience in the Humanities Collaboratory for CCBC Honors students on JHU’s main campus.

With the new grant funding, CCBC will aim to connect the humanities to intellectual growth.  Through a variety of courses, programs and other experiences students will be exposed to a Humanities mindset. CCBC will also begin work to create an Honors College.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.