Plan to Strengthen Study of Humanities Earns Support from The Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities

“The humanities are essential for the health of American civic life,” affirms the Teagle Foundation in its description of a new program, Cornerstone: Learning for Living, intended to foster student development and career success through transformative texts and curricular connections in general education.

Millsaps College has been awarded a $25,000 planning grant to bring this program, which is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to Millsaps. The Millsaps grant proposal focused on how to leverage the college’s historic strengths and heritage within the humanities.

The grant will facilitate a curricular framework supporting the college’s new Pathways program. Incoming students in the fall of 2021 will join one of six pathways: arts, culture and communication; business; exploratory; health; law, politics and social leadership; and STEM and data science.

The work of the Cornerstone program at Millsaps will be led by Dr. Laura Franey, associate professor of English and acting director of the Writing Program, and Dr. Holly Sypniewski, professor of Greek and Roman Studies and associate dean of arts and humanities.

“This grant will drive our efforts to identify and infuse transformative texts, with a particular emphasis on amplifying Black voices and experiences, in Millsaps’ required first-year ‘Connections’ seminar,” Franey said. “World-significant texts play a critical role in giving students the analytical tools and historical awareness necessary to question not only themselves, but the culture and society by which we are all partially formed.“

Sypniewski added that the planning grant will enable Millsaps to create valuable interdisciplinary humanities minors that align with the new Pathways. “We have two new minors, one in medical humanities and another in philosophy, law and society,” she said. “The grant will support the development of two new interdisciplinary minors aimed at business and STEM majors.”

The successful proposal submitted by the college to the Teagle Foundation and the NEH clearly outlined the role of the humanities in today’s approach to career preparedness, stating that “technical skills have a significant place in the current landscape of that preparation. Building competencies in our students that enhance their understanding of human intellectual and cultural history, however, is timeless. It remains the vital contribution that a rich humanities experience provides within a liberal arts education.”

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