“TRADITION AND INNOVATION: An inquiry into fundamental questions of politics, morality, and the human condition in texts from antiquity to modernity”

The Liberal Arts Institute of the Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC) invites applications to a pedagogy and curriculum development seminar: “Tradition and Innovation: An inquiry into fundamental questions of politics, morality, and the human condition in texts from antiquity to modernity.”  This seminar offers an introduction to texts and methods used in Columbia University’s Core Curriculum and in the University of Chicago’s Core Curriculum.  The seminar will be co-led by Kathy Eden of Columbia and Richard Strier of Chicago and is supported by the Teagle Foundation, the Bradley Foundation, and ACTC.

This letter contains a project description and the Application Packet.

The deadline for submission was January 22, 2016.

 Project Description

“Tradition and Innovation” is a curriculum development project that will bring together teams of faculty from 15 competitively selected institutions to engage in discussions about reading and teaching core texts.  As part of the seminar, team members will develop course prototypes to be offered as required or widely taken courses within their institutions.

The seminar will run from Sunday, June 12 to Saturday, June 25, 2016.  The first week of the seminar (June 12-18) will be conducted at the University of Chicago and the second week (June 18-25) at Columbia University.  Participants will room and board on campus and have access to university library facilities.

ACTC’s Liberal Arts Institute brings to this project two eminent seminar leaders: Kathy Eden is the Chavkin Family Professor of English Literature and Professor of Classics at Columbia University, and Richard Strier is the Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language & Literature at the University of Chicago.

Roosevelt Montás, Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum at Columbia, and J. Scott Lee, Executive Director of the Association for Core Texts and Courses, are the Project Directors and will lead two Friday consultations and workshops on curricular development using core texts.

Project Aims and Components

  1. Aims:

                     -to cultivate the use of core texts in undergraduate liberal education

                     -to showcase the teaching of these texts in a discussion-based seminar setting

                     -to plan and develop core text courses by participants for implementation in their  home institutions

  1. International Competition: The Application Packet invites institutions from around the world to submit proposals for participation in this project.  The potential impact of proposed courses on curriculum, faculty, and students will be a primary factor in the selection of participating institutions.  As part of the application, an appropriate administrator (e.g., Provost, Dean, or Director of General Education) must indicate institutional support for implementing the teaching of the proto-type course(s) developed by the seminar participants.
  1. Institutional Teams: Two faculty members from each participating institution will attend the seminars.  This project is especially interested in the mentoring of junior faculty.  Consequently, teams should consist of one senior and one junior faculty member if possible.  Faculty accepted to the seminar will receive a modest stipend.
  1. The “Tradition and Innovation” Summer Seminar: One member of each participating institution will attend the seminar section taught by Kathy Eden while the other will attend the section taught by Richard Strier.  In this way, participants will be exposed to different approaches to the same texts over the course of the two weeks.  Morning and afternoon sessions will be conducted each day.  Common meals and informal gatherings will be part of the daily schedule.
  1. Dissemination and Assessment: Participating institutions are expected to provide (at least) two faculty fora on campus so that participants in the seminar (a) can report on the seminar in the fall semester and (b) report again to the faculty on their experience teaching the core text course they developed or redesigned in connection with the seminar. Participating institutions will be encouraged to develop a website for the development of courses resulting from the project.

ACTC will publish edited reports by course developers on its website.  Project participants are invited to produce papers for the ACTC Annual Conference incorporating their experience of teaching core texts in their prototype courses.  These papers are eligible for publication in ACTC’s annual proceedings.

ACTC has piloted a “Qualitative Narrative Assessment” (QNA) project focused on student learning through core text curricula.  It will make available at the time of the “Tradition and Innovation” seminar the hard-copy publication or the manuscript chapters of the Qualitative Narrative Assessment project.

The deadline for applications was January 22, 2016. There is a direct cost-share provision required of participating institutions, specified in the Application Packet, representing less than 10% of the direct costs of the project.   Mailed application packages should be addressed to J. Scott Lee, “Tradition and Innovation” Project Director.

Decisions on participating institutions will be made by February 28, 2016.  Notifications will be sent March 5 with acceptances due March 12.  Participating institutions will also be announced at the ACTC annual conference, April 14-17 in Atlanta.  At least one member of each participating team will be expected to attend the 2016 ACTC conference to take part in a pre-seminar workshop with project leaders.

The Directors and Seminar Leaders of the “Tradition and Innovation” project look forward to the applications and to the enrichment and implementation of new core text curricula.



Scott Lee

Executive Director, Association for Core Texts and Courses

ACTC Liberal Arts Institute at Concordia University—Irvine

1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA 92612-3203




Roosevelt Montás,

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs

Director, Center for the Core Curriculum

Columbia University

202 Hamilton Hall, MC 2811

New York, NY  10027

tel: 212-854-2453