Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking
Call For Proposals
Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges program and advances the shared commitment of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and The Democracy Commitment: An American Community College Initiative (TDC) to infuse civic learning and democratic engagement through humanities courses and perspectives.
In the face of deep divides—inequity and injustice; ignorance about US and global cultural traditions; and indifference, polarization, and incivility that block a sense of mutuality—students must acquire a set of critical democratic capacities that allow them to navigate the complexity of differences in their own and other people’s lives and forge a sense of shared humanity. The humanities—steeped in the practice of entering imaginatively into other people’s lives and worldviews through literature, history, and philosophy—are particularly well-suited to cultivate the capacities of democratic thinking, empathic understanding, and responsible engagement. Community colleges are well-positioned to lead in this arena because they reflect a democratic impulse embedded in their mission of open access and represent as a whole the most diverse educational commons in the nation.
The Democracy Commitment and the Association of American Colleges and Universities invite applications from community colleges to participate in a three-year faculty and curriculum development civic learning project, Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking. TDC and AAC&U will be supported in these efforts by a distinguished group of humanities scholars and seasoned educational leaders. Interested community colleges are asked to propose specific curriculum and faculty development strategies in high-enrollment humanities courses to deepen students’ understanding of difference, community, and democratic thinking and share that growing knowledge through partnerships with community colleges and state humanities councils.
To advance this work, the ten selected institutions will receive a $7,500 award and commit $3,500 in institutional matching funds to support faculty development activities.
Proposals for Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking are due by 5:00 PM EDT on March 15, 2012. Institutions selected for participation in the project will be notified April 12, 2012. Access the online application here.
GOALS OF THE PROJECT
Ten community colleges will be selected to form a national Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation network. Each college will name a team of five humanities faculty members and one senior administrator to:
- infuse questions about difference, community, and democratic thinking into transfer courses in the humanities;
- promote greater adoption of proven high-impact practices and pedagogies that advance important civic learning outcomes;
- create a series of humanities-enriched professional development opportunities for community college faculty colleagues, especially adjunct faculty; and
- serve as the leader of a regional “hub” in order to expand the project’s impact through collaboration with partner community colleges and through public programming, where possible in conjunction with their state humanities council.
AAC&U and TDC are pleased to partner with the New York Times Knowledge Network and its Epsilen online learning platform to enhance the goals of the project.
- Project Benefits
- Project Design and Timeline
- Project Content and Humanities Scholars
- Application Criteria, Selection Criteria, and Proposal Components
- Project Administration
- $7,500 in grant funding to support curriculum and faculty development;
- Travel, room, and board expenses for the summer institute in 2012 for the second, fourth, and sixth institutional team member at each of the ten schools.
- Travel, room, and board support for two team members from each Bridging Cultures school to attend the final project summit in 2014.
- Opportunities to broaden and deepen existing efforts related to bridging differences, building community, and fostering democratic thinking through the focused engagement and expertise of nationally distinguished humanities scholars and educational leaders;
- Visibility through TDC and AAC&U channels and opportunity to be at the forefront of a national movement to reclaim the public and democratic purposes of higher education;
- Participation in a national network of project campuses and access to the project’s community of practice housed in the Epsilen online learning platform;
- Access to the New York Times content repository for use in classes and programs;
- Project events, activities, and resources to expand the base of humanities knowledge and the further development of high-impact practices that promote student learning;
- Opportunities for team members to write for AAC&U journals and to present at AAC&U and TDC national conferences;
- Recognition for individual humanities faculty on campus and in the region;
- A chance to contribute to project resources designed for the larger higher education community;
- Potential leverage for other funding; and
- Ongoing consultation and support for campus initiatives for the duration of the project.
A democracy cannot flourish and, in the extreme, cannot function, if its people lack either the will or the ability to engage thoughtfully and responsibly with others in the public sphere, whether the classroom or the community. Today, that public sphere is characterized by astounding differences among its inhabitants—in economic circumstances, cultural backgrounds, worldviews, values, and status. In that sense, the work of thoughtful engagement in the public sphere, a hallmark of democratic life, is the work of bridging cultures.
Today, education for diversity and democracy, along with the humanities disciplines, are marginalized within a higher education discourse focused almost exclusively on training and jobs development. Workforce preparation has long been a central hallmark of community college missions, but this important focus should not eclipse the public, democratic purpose of these institutions. To help counter this trend, Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation will develop humanities-based curricular and pedagogical models and materials centered on difference, community, and democratic thinking and share these with the larger higher education community.
Project Design and Timeline
The project will take place over 32 months from March 2012 through October 2014 and bring together 10 campus teams face-to-face and virtually as they work as a national network on humanities curriculum development related to bridging differences, building community, and fostering democratic thinking. In August 2012, a defining five-day summer institute will be held with seminars, lectures, consultancies with humanities scholars, and team planning. Following the summer institute, teams will begin to implement their course and curricular revisions along with instituting faculty development opportunities. Toward the end of year 1 and into year 2, teams will involve additional humanities faculty at their own institutions in faculty development programs in order to increase significantly the number of faculty involved.
Toward the end of year 2 and into year 3, the participating institutions will serve as leadership “hubs,” expanding professional development and project resources to humanities faculty at partner community colleges. Also in year 3, the 10 institutions will undertake public programming related to the project themes, preferably in conjunction with state humanities councils. The project will culminate with a final summit at a TDC/AAC&U national meeting. See the project’s timeline of activities for more information.
Project Content and Humanities Scholars
The heart of the intellectual Bridging Cultures humanities core will be embedded in the August 2012, summer institute which will introduce several themes that will be explored and further enriched during the course of the project by the national network of Bridging Cultures community college faculty. These themes include:
- “The Humanities and Democratic Imagination,” exploring the imaginative capacities that fuel democratic concepts of freedom and recognition, even under the harshest of circumstances;
- “The Humanities and Democratic Thinking,” exploring philosophical and historical perspectives to help define and frame the concept of democratic thinking alongside diverse others as a means for bridging cultures;
- “Giving Voice to Difference,” examining the unique position of the humanities to give voice to those left outside the prevailing democratic narrative in America;
- “Democracy’s Unfinished Work,” examining founding principles and ideals of the new republic as well as debates, contradictions, and evolving contestations and negotiations;
- “Immigration, Nationalism, and E Pluribus Unum,” exploring the experience of immigrant groups in the U.S., including significant tensions between nationalism and a continuous redefinition of the “we” in “We the People.”
- “Pluralism in a Contentious Global Age,” looking at the potential and the challenges of religious and cultural pluralism in our contemporary global age;
- “Struggles for Democratic Voice, Power, and Opportunity,” looking at how a variety of communities have fought for fuller inclusion in the American democratic experiment; and
- “Identity, Difference, and Forging a Public ‘We’,” exploring the role of the humanities in revitalizing concepts and principles of democratic participation and bridging cultural divides.
The summer institute and subsequent project activities will draw upon the nationally recognized humanities scholars that have agreed to serve as active advisory board members and consultants to the campuses. The distinguished members include:
Richard Battistoni, Professor of Political Science and Public and Community Service Studies, Providence College; Gwendolyn Dungy, Executive Director, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education; William Chafe, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History, Duke University; Shelley Crisp, Executive Director, North Carolina Humanities Council; Walter Fluker, Martin Luther King Professor of Ethical Leadership, Boston University School of Theology; Robert Franco, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Kapi’olani Community College; Ramón Gutiérrez, Preston & Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor in United States History and the College, University of Chicago; Elizabeth Minnich, Senior Scholar, Association of American Colleges and Universities; Azar Nafisi, Executive Director of Cultural Conversations, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Bernie Ronan, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Maricopa Community Colleges System; Rowena Tomaneng, Associate Vice President, Office of Instruction, De Anza College; Regina Stanback Stroud, President, Skyline College.
Application Criteria, Selection Criteria, and Proposal Components
Application Deadline: March 15, 2012 via the online application form. Notification of Selection: April 12, 2012
We encourage applicants to review the Frequently Asked Questions link and the project’s timeline before they begin their application. We also offer the following as background documents should applicants find them useful as they craft their proposals:
- The report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Promise (AAC&U, 2012);
- The monograph, The Drama of Diversity and Democracy: Higher Education and American Commitments - Second Edition (AAC&U, 2011), with a new foreword by Bridging Cultures lead scholar and advisory board member Ramón A. Gutiérrez;
- The article, “Teaching Thinking: Moral and Political Considerations” (Change, September/October 2003), by Bridging Cultures lead scholar and advisory board member Elizabeth Minnich; and
- The article, “The Republic of the Imagination,” (The Washington Post, December 2004) by Bridging Cultures lead scholar and advisory board member Azar Nafisi.
- All Associate’s and Associate’s-Dominant institutions that are accredited by a U.S. accrediting body are eligible to apply.
- Applicant institutions should agree to provide $3,500 in institutional matching funds to be used to support their campus-based faculty development activities.
- Project campuses must be willing to share curricular models/resources/course assignments/strategic plans within the project’s online network and elsewhere.
- Institutions must apply as teams of six individuals with a named team leader: five Bridging Cultures faculty humanities fellows and one senior administrator.
- The team’s faculty should be drawn from areas in the humanities where courses count for transfer or for associate’s degree completion. A campus may choose to select team members from multiple disciplines/departments or from a single discipline/department, whichever best meets their institution’s curricular strategy for Bridging Cultures.
- Applicant institutions should identify a diverse team that has subject matter and teaching expertise related to Bridging Cultures goals.
- Applicant institutions should commit to sending the six-person team to the project’s kick-off summer institute, which will take place July 29 - August 3, 2012 in Burlington, Vermont. The grant will support expenses for three of these team members, and each community college will support the other three.
- Applicant institutions should commit to sending three team members to a culminating forum in the final year of the project, two of whom will be supported through grant funds and one by the applicant institution.
- Following NEH guidelines, humanities disciplines can include language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods.
- Applicant institutions should identify a set of likely partner community colleges and provide initial letters of interest from the Chief Academic Officer of these colleges regarding the participation of humanities faculty in future professional development activities.
- We recommend that applicant institutions contact their state humanities council to explore possibilities for public programming related to the the goals of the project. Letters of interest from state humanities councils will be considered, but is not a requirement of the proposal.
SELECTION CRITERIA (Campuses will be notified about selection by April 12, 2012)
Campuses will be selected based on the strength of their proposed plans and capacity to carry out those plans. The selection committee will also seek a diversity of community colleges (e.g., by region, urban/rural, size, student population) for the national network. Campuses from all parts of the United States are therefore encouraged to apply.
Proposals should be double-spaced with one inch margins, typed in 12 point, Times New Roman font, and submitted as a Microsoft Word document. Appendices will be accepted in either Word or PDF format.
Project Abstract (250 words)
The abstract should briefly (250 words) describe the applicant’s specific plans for curriculum and faculty development designs centering on the project themes of bridging differences, building community, and fostering democratic thinking.
Project Narrative (3,500 words)
The narrative should describe the institution’s proposed work plan in relation to the project goals, the institution’s capacity to carry out the work, and the rationale for the team composition.
- Infusing questions about difference, community, and democratic thinking into transfer courses in the humanities. Describe your plans for curricular infusion of Bridging Cultures themes.
- Increasing proven high-impact practices and pedagogies that advance important civic learning outcomes. Describe your plans for adopting/strengthening/scaling up high-impact practices and pedagogies that help students to bridge differences, build community, and develop democratic thinking.
- Creating a series of humanities-enriched professional development opportunities for community college faculty colleagues, especially adjunct faculty. Describe your plans for faculty development with humanities colleagues on campus;
- Serving as a leader of a regional “hub” in order to expand the project’s impact through collaboration with partner community colleges and state humanities councils.Describe your plans for expanding curriculum and faculty development in conjunction with partner community colleges in the region and your state humanities council where possible.
- Briefly describe your institution’s capacity for carrying out the proposed work plan (e.g., how Bridging Cultures goals align with the institution’s mission and priorities related to civic learning, diversity, and democratic engagement; how themes of difference, community, and democratic thinking are already in place in humanities courses or across campus; the presence of student learning goals in these areas; history and experience with relevant high-impact practices and pedagogies; existing faculty development initiatives; prior collaboration with other community colleges/state humanities council).
- Briefly describe your rationale for selecting the particular team composition, including how the individuals are positioned to expand the curricular and faculty development work and how their expertise will enrich the project as a whole.
The following items should be included in your proposal narrative but will not count as part of the 3,500 word limit.
- 1-2 page resumes for each team member uploaded as appendices (pdf or .doc formats only).
- Letters of Interest from partner community colleges and the state humanities council (letter from humanities council is optional).
- An $11,000 budget plan for projected faculty development and community college hub activities ($7,500 from the grant; $3,500 from the institutional match).
- Kevin Hovland, Assistant Director and Senior Director for Global Learning and Curricular Change, AAC&U
- Eleanor Hall, Project Coordinator and Program Associate, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives, AAC&U
- Amee Bearne, National Coordinator, The Democracy Commitment
- Chad Anderson, Program Associate, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives, AAC&U
Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information. Questions not covered here may be directed to Eleanor Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 387-3760 ext. 438.
This project is made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH.