(Posted October 31, 2018)

Huntingdon, Pa.— Juniata College has received a $500,000, three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch its new general education curriculum. The award is the third grant from the foundation in the last four years to support changes in the College’s general education curriculum, the classes and learning experiences that every Juniata student must take regardless of their academic focus.

The funds will help the college support its faculty in developing the courses, experiences, and teaching strategies necessary to engage students in the new curriculum. Among the distinctive features of the new curriculum is a requirement that students pursue engaging learning experiences in local communities, whether through service, internships, or short projects, with the expectation that students articulate and reflect on the learning in such environments.

Additionally, the curriculum will set an expectation that students take courses combining disciplinary perspectives and expertise around solving complicated problems ranging from population health to economic stagnation, ethical dimensions of genetic science to the challenges of cultural conflict, among many other topics and issues.  "We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their repeated support of the vision our faculty have developed to prepare all students for contemporary and future challenges and opportunities," says Lauren Bowen, provost at Juniata. “The grants that helped us study, develop, and now launch a new curriculum recognize that the heart of this work—interdisciplinary experience and civic engagement—will make Juniata graduates leaders in their work, their communities, and their pursuits.”

Juniata’s general education curriculum long required students to take courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to achieve a breadth of knowledge, in addition to courses in written and verbal communication. In the new curriculum, some elements will retain—a focus on developing communication skills and awareness—while the goals for breadth will be achieved in a different manner.

The new curriculum is centered on interdisciplinary inquiry and community engagement. Courses developed will focus on understanding why and how knowledge is created, judged, and used, and learning experiences—in and out of the classroom—will stress local and global engagement. All students will maintain an online portfolio of their work, projects, and achievements while at Juniata, with the purpose of leading to a culminating project in the senior year as well as a trove of information to use to tell their particular learning story to graduate schools, employers, or other collaborators and leaders.  To read more about the curriculum, visit https://www.juniata.edu/academics/juniata-college-curriculum.php

"We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their repeated support of the vision our faculty have developed to prepare all students for contemporary and future challenges and opportunities," says Lauren Bowen, provost at Juniata.

“Prior to the enormity of information accessible in the digital age, gathering general knowledge across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences was important in developing an education sufficient for civic and professional success,” says Bowen. “But with information now so readily available and malleable, an education must necessarily help people understand how knowledge is created, why methods and ideas are employed, and how to critique knowledge.”

The entire general curriculum was devised to result in Juniata graduates achieving a shared set of attributes that the College adopted in 2016. The faculty adopted the expectation that students would, through curricular and co-curricular experiences emphasizing mentoring, undergraduate research, and experiential learning, a Juniata graduate would demonstrate:

  • the knowledge and skills needed to engage effectively with and adapt to a changing world as well as depth of knowledge in an academic field and critical engagement with and respect for multiple cultural traditions and human diversity;
  • intellectual engagement through analytical and creative thinking, critical questioning, and examination of evidence that cultivates intellectual curiosity and an openness to exploring challenging questions;
  • interdisciplinarity dexterity to integrate knowledge and skills from multiple disciplinary approaches to address questions or problems and develop different ways of knowing about the self, aesthetics, human cultures, and the social and natural worlds;
  • ethical behavior informed by the knowledge of multiple ethical traditions and an informed vision of a just society and a capacity to act ethically with empathy, honesty, and responsibility; and
  • engagement with the self and the world through collaborative work in cultural settings from local to global, engaged citizenship and respectful interactions, and understanding of how a holistic and intentional approach to life fosters wellbeing.

Juniata College is among the most respected liberal arts colleges in the nation, known for its commitment to experiential learning, global and local engagement, and faculty and staff who partner with students who take ownership of their education. Juniata offers a college experience that emphasizes a student-alumni-faculty community extending beyond graduation.

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.