The Our Shared Humanities Initiative at Union College
Integrating the Arts & Humanities Across Disciplines
The History of the Our Shared Humanities Initiative
In 2015, funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation made it possible for Union College to establish the Our Shared Humanities initiative. The initiative enabled the college to build upon traditional strength in crossing disciplinary boundaries by supporting the development of a Maker Web, a Faculty Development Institute (FDI), the growth of the library’s interdisciplinary catalogue, and a mini-grant program for faculty project-based-support. The mini-grant program provided faculty with broad range opportunities to work collaboratively to integrate the arts and humanities with other disciplines. More than one third of all faculty have contributed to Our Shared Humanities projects. The results of these collaborations have been exciting and inspiring: New friendships and research partnerships have been forged, and faculty are working to develop new, challenging pedagogies that engage with emerging technologies, that contribute to developing dialogues in emergent theories in the environmental humanities, medical humanities, and experimental humanities.
The Mini-Grant Program
The Our Shared Humanities Initiative provided smaller-scale grant opportunities for Union College tenure-track faculty over the three year period of the grant. More than one-third of all faculty, and more than one-half of all tenure-track faculty participated in mini-grant projects. The mini-grant program contained three funding vehicles: the Discovery Grant, the Design Gran, and the Zones of Inquiry Grant.
Make Co-Curricular Activities
Faculty members and students from the arts and humanities have collaborated with faculty from across disciplines to create maker-related projects. These projects have supported faculty pedagogical development, have facilitated student empowerment and student leadership, and have enabled makers to focus on project-oriented expertise development. We have two $500 stipends per term to faculty who developed Maker-related modules for existing courses. The objective of these awards has been to foster the sustainable integration of maker culture into the existing curriculum. Awardees have worked diligently to ensure pedagogical sustainability. For information on how to apply, see the application page.
At the core of Our Shared Humanities is the development of enduring initiatives through pedagogical projects of various dimensions, centering on the lasting effects of exploring new teaching approaches. These enhanced faculty development programs are designed to reinvigorate faculty members’ own teaching and research interests, with the goal to produce (re)designed modules, courses, programs, and even departmental requirements in a way that will elevate arts and humanities as a whole at Union. Through our FDI programs, we successfully challenged faculty to reevaluate teaching methods to best ensure student learning and increase student engagement.
The Our Shared Humanities initiative has made it possible for the Schaffer Library to acquire more than 300 new interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary texts and resources.