Ripon receives $150,000 NEH grant to strengthen humanities throughout the region

A project to strengthen the humanities at Ripon College through regional collaboration has received a $150,000 Humanities Initiatives for Colleges and Universities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will fund a three-year effort to reimagine humanistic study for the 21st century and support a plan to bolster humanities education by connecting faculty and students with cultural institutions across the southern Fox Valley region.

“Developing a Diverse and Sustainable Place-Based Humanities Education through Regional Partnerships,” led by Ripon College Professor of History Brian Bockelman, is included in the NEH’s first round of funding for the year, totaling some $28.1 million in grants for 204 projects at museums, libraries, universities and historic sites in 39 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is one of only two Humanities Initiatives grants awarded to Wisconsin colleges and universities in this cycle.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to build a robust, place-based eco-system of humanities education for our region,” Bockelman states. “Our conversations with Marian University were an initial step toward articulating a vision of geographic uniqueness and attracting students to programs that offer both a universal and a particular education. The proposed project will be the first sustained attempt to understand the place, quite literally, of Ripon in the landscape of American colleges and universities.”

The three-year initiative is expected to involve approximately 15 faculty members at Ripon and Marian, up to a dozen community partners at area arts and humanities organizations stretching from Baraboo to Oshkosh, and three distinguished visiting scholars from Princeton University, Stanford University, and Cornell University.

The focus on humanities education and establishing a regional network of collaborations among local places, people and organizations is aimed to improve the quality and content of humanities classes, grow humanities enrollments and develop a model for revitalizing the humanities at liberal arts colleges in predominantly rural environments.

“Institutions like Ripon and Marian are becoming ever more aware of their collective purpose as centers of higher education, culture and wellness for the surrounding area,” Bockelman adds. “This project will maximize the existing human resources across the region to sustain traditional humanistic disciplines and subjects, and it will also offer the chance to work together to develop new and more resilient approaches to the humanities of the future, making them more diverse and more grounded in the places and landscapes we — and our students — inhabit.”

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