Transforming the Humanities is an initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which looks to improve outcomes and post-graduation success for underserved students by addressing three major gaps in undergraduate education: (1) the limited participation of underserved students in undergraduate research; 2) the limited exposure of underserved students to the benefits of study in the humanities; and (3) the limited integration of undergraduate research within the humanities, particularly with respect to interdisciplinary research.
Addressing these three gaps has the potential to transform undergraduate education by harnessing the well-established benefits of both instruction in the humanities as well as participation in undergraduate research. Equipping this group of students with the skills (e.g.,critical thinking, collaboration, communication) that such experiences provide will strengthen our communities and, ultimately set the stage for innovation in the humanities for a new generation of developing humanists.
The Undergraduate Research (UR) is consistently identified as a transformative, high impact practice that helps facilitate deep learning, which leads to an increased sense of belonging resulting in higher GPAs, faster graduation rates, and post-graduation successes. It is also connected to growth in student confidence, competencies, and engagement.
This initiative creatively addresses the challenge of how to make these opportunities available to all our students. The main obstacles to widescale availability are the traditional single mentor-mentee model, which means that only a small fraction of our students benefit from this high impact experience, and low level participation by students from traditionally underrepresented groups.
We aim to change this pattern by complementing the traditional single mentor-mentee model by integrating research skills development into and throughout our classes/curriculum, by developing Course based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), and by inviting students from traditionally underrepresented groups to participate in Interdisciplinary Faculty Student Groups.