Monday, July 13, 2009

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

The Enduring Questions grant program supports a faculty member’s development of a new course that will foster intellectual community through the study of an enduring question. This course will encourage undergraduate students and a teacher to grapple with a fundamental question addressed by the humanities, and to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day. What is an enduring question? The following list is neither prescriptive nor exhaustive but serves to illustrate. What is the good life? What is freedom? Happiness? What is friendship? What is beauty? Is there a human nature, and, if so, what is it? What is the relationship between humans and the natural world? How do science and ethics relate to one another? Is there such a thing as right and wrong? Good and evil? What is good government? Enduring questions are, to an overarching degree, predisciplinary. They are questions to which no discipline or field or profession can lay an exclusive claim. In many cases they predate the formation of the academic disciplines themselves. Enduring questions can be tackled by reflective individuals regardless of their chosen vocations, areas of expertise, or personal backgrounds. They are questions that have more than one plausible or compelling answer. They have long held interest for young people, and they allow for a special, intense dialogue across generations. The Enduring Questions grant program will help promote such dialogue in today’s undergraduate environment. An Enduring Questions grant supports the development of a new undergraduate humanities course that must be taught at least twice during the grant period. The grant supports the work of a faculty member in designing, preparing, and assessing the course. It may also be used for ancillary activities that enhance faculty-student intellectual community, such as visits to museums and artistic or cultural events. An Enduring Questions course may be taught by a faculty member from any department or discipline in the humanities or by a faculty member outside the humanities (e.g., astronomy, biology, economics, law, mathematics, medicine, psychology), so long as humanities sources are central to the course.

Due September 15, 2009