Two Penn State Berks professors are on a mission to revitalize the role of the humanities at Penn State Berks. They were recently awarded a “Cornerstone: Learning for Living” grant, jointly sponsored by the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant will be used to lay the groundwork for the creation of a new Keystone Certificate program at Penn State Berks.
Michele Ramsey, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and women’s studies, and Cheryl Nicholas, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and global studies, were awarded $25,000 through the grant.
“The Keystone Certificate would introduce nonhumanities majors to the humanities in order to better prepare them for the workforce and to encourage consideration of the valuable lessons the humanities have to offer in their future work,” explained Ramsey.
“Recent reports by organizations such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine; the Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University; and the National Association of Colleges and Employers point to the increasing need for students in STEM and business-related majors to become more familiar with the theoretical and practical applications of the humanities.”
Nicholas added, “The Keystone Certificate would help students compete in our fast-moving, high-tech, global economy. It would also encourage excellence in citizenship and the promotion of democratic ideals.”
Students would begin the certificate with a common two-course sequence and the remainder of the courses for the certificate would be organized in thematic clusters focused on science and technology, environment and sustainability, healthcare and medicine, management and organization, conflict and justice, and globalization. All courses in the certificate would count towards Penn State’s general education credits, enabling students to complete the certificate without additional time and expense.
This planning grant offers Ramsey and Nicholas the opportunity to apply for an implementation grant from the NEH and the Teagle Foundation which, if awarded, would allow them to work on implementing the certificate throughout the Penn State system and work with faculty on teaching the two foundational courses.
About the Cornerstone: Learning for Living Grant
The Teagle-NEH initiative aims to reinvigorate the role of the humanities in general education, and in doing so, expose a broad array of students to the power of the humanities; help students of all backgrounds build a sense of belonging and community; strengthen the coherence and cohesiveness of general education; and increase teaching opportunities for humanities faculty.