GC Awarded $3.15M Mellon Foundation Grant for Humanities Teaching and Learning

October 19, 2015

The Graduate Center has been awarded $3.15 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a major humanities initiative to enhance pedagogical training for doctoral students.

The Graduate Center has been awarded $3.15 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a major humanities initiative to enhance pedagogical training for doctoral students.
Beginning in fall 2016, the Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance will place 27 Graduate Center doctoral students at LaGuardia Community College. The doctoral students will gain onsite training from LaGuardia mentors and master faculty, while LaGuardia students will benefit from inspiring teaching, resources for cultural enrichment, and a humanities mentorship program. The grant will also fund a substantial online community platform and two post-doctoral fellowships to research humanities education and digital scholarly communication.
The new Mellon initiative reflects the Graduate Center's integrated approach to doctoral education, as well as its commitment to increasing access, boosting undergraduate graduation rates, and diversifying the humanities. Community colleges enroll nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States, predominantly first-generation, low-income, economically disadvantaged students, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. More than two-thirds of LaGuardia students come from families making $25,000 a year or less.
"The Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance advances our commitment to research and teaching-the very best research and teaching "as a public good," said Dr. Chase F. Robinson, President of the Graduate Center. "There is no other graduate school in the country that takes more seriously its public responsibilities, or generates more equity. The Mellon Foundation award helps us enhance doctoral training by partnering with LaGuardia Community College, leveraging the extraordinary scale and integration of the University system."

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Studying the humanities has been shown to help students master essential lifelong learning skills, including critical thinking, creativity, writing, historical perspective, cultural understanding, communication, collaboration, project management, and digital literacy. More than a decade of extensive research has shown that engaged, student-centered methodologies are particularly valuable in teaching disadvantaged students and underrepresented minorities, whether in the humanities or other disciplines.
"The Center for Teaching and Learning at LaGuardia Community College will do what it does best: provide high-quality training and support for graduate students using innovative teaching pedagogies and experiential learning methods," said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College. "We're honored to collaborate with our colleagues across the University on this creative endeavor to strengthen and support humanities education, a vital part of every student's path to a college degree."

This Mellon-funded initiative complements several Graduate Center programs that enhance doctoral training through collaboration and partnerships within the City University of New York, which enrolls nearly 280,000 degree-credit students at 24 campuses:

  • The Center for Integrated Language Communities (CILC), one of only 15 National Language Resource Centers, focuses on language education in the community college context and works with student heritage speakers at Hunter, Queens, Lehman, Staten Island, LaGuardia, Kingsborough, and Queensborough colleges;

  • The Futures Initiative (FI) draws on the University's vast resources to develop new methods of teaching and research, with a goal of inspiring public investment in higher education;

  • The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) prepares Graduate Center students to enter the classroom, supports their development as college teachers, and fosters innovative approaches to undergraduate education across the university;

  • Graduate Center Digital Initiatives (GCDI) encompasses a broad range of digital projects, resources, pedagogy, and scholarship.

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The creation of the Humanities Teaching and Learning Alliance reflects the Graduate Center's enduring relationship with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has funded a number of important initiatives, including a $2.415 million award in 2009 in support of interdisciplinary scholarship.
"With the catalytic support of this grant, the Graduate Center will develop for the first time a system for placing graduate teaching fellows in a community college," said Mari«t Westermann, Vice President at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. "This initiative addresses two key priorities for the Mellon Foundation: strengthening the training of doctoral students for teaching in diverse classrooms and improving access to the humanities across the American population and system of higher education."

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