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Volume 23, No. 7       November 13, 2000

Hewlett Foundation Grant Awarded

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has awarded Ithaca College a three-year, $150,000 grant that will support the use of digital technology to develop collaborative research experiences for students taking advanced courses in the humanities. The projects supported by this grant will allow humanities students the same opportunities for team research that are currently offered to students in chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, and other sciences.

"Research or fieldwork with faculty and fellow students teaches critical thinking and sustained inquiry as well as social and communications skills," says Howard Erlich, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences. "Students in the humanities complete a great number of traditional individual research and interpretive assignments such as term papers, but such experiences are solitary and usually conducted in a library. Though these students have many original insights, they lack opportunities for scholarly originality because that often requires access to collections, archives, or field sites far from the campus."

"Providing experiences in team research in the humanities, which has rarely been possible to achieve except through field studies, is now feasible on- campus through the use of digital technology," adds Jim Malek, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "The results of this grant will provide a well-thought-out national model and reaffirm the College-wide goal of combining collaborative work between student and faculty with more experiential, performance-based learning experiences."

Thanks to internal funding and a $500,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, the College has already laid the groundwork for a number of digital technology projects that can be introduced into the humanities curriculum. The Hewlett grant will provide the resources to build on that base.

For example, specific course projects will include the final development of a virtual pilgrimage to Chartres, an ever-expanding web site on Oscar Wilde, a virtual museum of modern art, and an online archive of servants’ diaries, slave narratives, and other nontraditional sources not easy to obtain in print. The key faculty participants will be

  • Barbara Adams, assistant professor of writing
  • Nancy Brcak, associate professor of art history
  • Stephen Clancy, associate professor of art history
  • Hugh Egan, associate professor of English
  • Katharine Kittredge, associate professor of English
  • Fred Madden, associate professor of English
  • James Swafford, associate professor of English
  • Michael Twomey, professor of English
  • Gary Wells, associate professor of art history

"Giving humanities students the opportunity to work with each other and their instructors on digital archives and other projects will provide an experience comparable to that of undergraduate research teams in the sciences," Erlich says. "These kinds of experiences at the undergraduate level can have a powerful effect on liberal learning as students move from inquiry to synthesis and professional presentation."

The Hewlett Foundation is committed to the voluntary nonprofit sector and concentrates its resources on activities in education, performing arts, population, environment, conflict resolution, family and community development, and U.S.– Latin American relations.


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Andrejs Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications. 9. Nov. 2000