NEH Grant – “Bridging the Gap Between the Humanities and Sciences”

National Endowment For The Humanities Grant

One of the Largest Awards in 2003 by NEH.

On Tuesday, March 11th, 2003, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced the year's awards for project proposals to the Exemplary Education Program. ACTC was awarded $ 229,000 for its three-year project, "Bridging the Gap Between Humanities and Sciences: An Exemplary Education Model of Core Text, Humanistic Education." The project was the first initiative of the ACTC Liberal Arts Institute. "Bridging the Gap" began in June 2003 on the campus of St. John's College.

"Bridging the Gap" is a national curricular project which unites humanist scholars and scientists in developing and implementing general, liberal education courses based in the humanities. The project will develop humanities core text courses and discussions about the value, meaning, and importance of science to human ideas, actions, and arts throughout the West and the World. After a national competition, faculties from nine institutions have been selected to participate in the three-year project. Suggested by NEH, funding from outside sources will increase the participation of the project beyond its original plans.

The yearly seminars will have two parts. Phillip Sloan, President of ACTC and Peter Kalkavage of St. John's College co-authored the syllabi of science and humanities readings and will lead the discussions of science and humanities texts for all three years of the project. Toward the close of each two-week session, the participating institutions will move into workshops to plan for integration of the seminar texts into their particular curricula. Scott Lee, project director, and Patricia Cook, project evaluator, will help develop the specific integration plans. Lee commented that "winning this award is an honor and validation of the potential of ACTC, its institutional affiliates, and its new Liberal Arts Institute."

In order to indicate national institutional interest to NEH, ACTC invited three core text institutions that it knew to be eager to develop humanities-and-science courses -- Mercer University, St. Olaf College, and the University of Dallas -- as partners in the original grant. Subsequently, ACTC held a national competition to select six more institutions to participate. Institutions joining the project are Benedictine University, Norfolk State University, Seton Hall University, Samford University, St. Bonventure University, and Truckee Meadows Community College. St. John's College, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Dallas (site of ACTC's new Liberal Arts Institute) agreed to host the three seminars and generously held costs in check so that ACTC could turn in a viable proposal. Cost-sharing by institutions in support of administrators and post-seminar development plans was an important ingredient of success. Developments of the project on each campus and as a whole will be made available through campus and ACTC websites.

As is its policy, the National Endowment for the Humanities, through program officer Barbara Ashbrook, provided invaluable guidance in helping to develop this project and superb critical reviews from the peer reviewers after the grant was awarded. These helped to improve and finalize the project's content and structure.

Both the seminar syllabi and the institutional applications express the commitment to solid humanistic, interdisciplinary education in core text, liberal education. The first year participants will discuss "Motion and Natural Law in a Philosophical and Political World." The second year participants will read about and discuss "The Problem of Life: Life Sciences and Humanistic Perspectives." In the third year, discussion will turn to "Nature, Art, and Science: the Problem of Technoscience and Values." Simple experiments, field trips, and films supplement the effort as do the evening discussions by faculty over dinners on the hosting campuses. The syllabus will be published on ACTC's website this spring, shortly after the conference.

The institutions were extraordinarily broad-ranging in their integration plans. All met the two-course integration minimum and went well beyond. Honors colleges modeling for general education courses, cluster courses supplementing extensive required course offerings, degree programs linked to the general education courses, pre-collegiate education linked to the general education courses, learning communities, supplemental technology workshops for participating faculty, and the use of the grant to unite separate humanities and science honors programs were just some of the innovations incorporated in the applications.

Participating Institutions

Benedictine University
Mercer University
Norfolk State University
St. Bonaventure University
St. Mary's College of California
St. Olaf College
Samford University
Seton Hall University
Truckee Meadows Community College
University of Dallas

Seminar Leaders:
Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College
Phillip R. Sloan, University of Notre Dame

Patricia Cook, St. John's College

Project Director:
J. Scott Lee
Executive Director
Association for Core Texts and Courses


The following list of participants indicates the cross-disciplinary nature of curriculum building in the Bridging the Gap project. Parties interested in similar efforts on their campuses are urged to contact the project director, J. Scott Lee, or the participants to inquire about building humanities-and-science, core text curricula on their campuses.

Benedictine University
Patrick Flynn, Director Institute for Science and Values
Jean-Marie Kauth, Rhetoric and Writing
Alfred Martin, Biology
Fannie Rushing, Sociology
Martin Tracey, Philosophy

Mercer University
Mary Ann Drake, Interdisciplinary Studies
Thomas Huber, Biology
Paul Lewis, Christianity
Edward F. Thomas, Philosophy

Norfolk State University
Page Laws, English and Director Honors Program
James L. Toy, Coordinator Laboratories, Physics
Stephanie Walker, English and Foreign Languages

St. Bonaventure University
Michael Chiariello, Dean Clare College and Philosophy
David DiMattio, Physics
Anne Foerst, Computer Science and Theology
Roderick Hughes, Philosophy
Kevin Vogel, Biology

St. Mary's College of California
Christopher Sindt, Dir ector of MFA Program
Lisa Manter, Literature
Keith H. Ogawa, Psychology

St. Olaf College
Deborah Anderson, Psychology
Chuck Huff, Psychology
Rick Fairbanks, Associate Dean, Humanities
Gary Stansell, Religion

Samford University
William Collins, Political Science
Elizabeth Dobbins, Biology
Steve Donaldson, Mathematics and Computer Science
David Garza, Chemistry
Christopher Metress, Coordinator Cultural Perspectives

Seton Hall University
Kristina Chew, Classics, Writing, Honors Program
Colleen Conway, Religious Studies
Marian Glenn, Biology
Jürgen Heinrichs, Art History
Kelly Shea, English

Truckee Meadows Community College
Ed Burke, Biology
Rena Denham, Chair, Humanities and Fine Arts
W. Tell Gifford, Humanities

University of Dallas
Margaret Elizabeth Brown-Marsden, Biology
Kathleen Burk, English
William Germann, Biology
Doug Hadley, Philosophy
Claudia MacMillan, Associate Dean
Joseph Nika, Biology
Lance Simmons, Philosophy

Seminar Leaders:
Peter Kalkavage, St. John's College
Phillip R. Sloan, University of Notre Dame

Patricia Cook, St. John's College

Project Director
J. Scott Lee, Association for Core Texts and Courses (