Converse College and three other Southeastern liberal arts colleges have been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Teagle Foundation of New York to measure the impact of integrative learning experiences for first-year students.
Joining Converse in the three-year project are Agnes Scott College, the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and Wofford College. The project will begin in July and continue through June 2009 with Agnes Scott serving as administrator of the grant. The project emerged from a year-long planning process funded by an initial $25,000 Teagle grant in August 2005. The expanded project will be used to measure students’ critical thinking and writing skills, creativity, collaborative abilities, ethical judgment, and other key aspects of their experience as they emerge through learning experiences in their first year.
Specifically, each of the colleges in the consortium will target different aspects of the liberal arts education during the next three years. Converse will analyze the impact of its Daniels Center for Leadership and Service; Agnes Scott will evaluate the benefits of linking first-year seminars to living and learning communities; University of North Carolina-Asheville will assess the impact of integrative academic experiences on student learning in its Liberal Students Introductory Colloquium; and Wofford will focus on the impact of its Learning Communities that link laboratory science courses for non-science majors and freshman humanities seminars.
“Through the generosity of the Teagle Foundation, we have been given a wonderful opportunity to improve the learning experiences of our students,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Barker, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Converse. “Our consortium represents a unique partnership among Southeastern institutions that, while diverse in type, share an historical and contemporary commitment to providing the highest quality liberal education to our students.”
Barker further stated that each member of the consortium brings individual strengths to the table that should benefit the whole. “Careful reflection about our own unique structures and missions may reveal lessons or approaches applicable to all,” Barker says. “For example, how have women’s colleges, like Converse and Agnes Scott, been intentional in developing the leadership skills of our students? How have religious-affiliated schools like Wofford balanced an atmosphere that honors their historical commitment to the church while celebrating religious and other differences? How have public universities, such as UNC-Asheville, been able to leverage faculty and other resources to continue to nurture a true liberal arts environment, given their unique institutional realities?”
The Daniels Center for Leadership and Service is a partnership between academic affairs and student affairs that provides Converse students with opportunities to learn, serve and lead in accordance with the college’s mission to prepare women for lives of service to their community.
Whereas many colleges throughout the U.S. have separate leadership and service programs, the Daniels Center is distinctive in that leadership and service are combined into an integrated approach. Converse’s long legacy of leadership and service coupled with its status as a women’s college position the college to emerge as a leader in developing women who lead and serve.