In today's installment "A Tale of Two Foundations," we'd like to look at two funders' visions for the role of liberal arts at the university and post-collegiate level.
The first is the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the second is the Teagle Foundation. And it just so happens that the latter's end-state vision for the liberal arts—a hybrid skill set that emphasizes practical employment opportunities—dovetails nicely with the former. It also just so happens that they take completely different roads to reach a similar destination.
Let's start with Mellon. Its target audience is traditional liberal arts students. These are the kinds of students writing their thesis on Philip Roth with an eye toward a career in academia. There's just one problem: Careers in academia aren't as plentiful as they used to be. And so Mellon is broadening this demographic's skill set to equip them for the real world.
The examples highlighted here on IP are plentiful, but here's one example: a $100,000 grant to Michigan's Albion College to create "hands-on learning experiences in the arts and the humanities." The delivery mechanism for this important goal will be the college's new "humanities labs."
Then there's the New York-based Teagle Foundation. As we noted in our funder profile on Teagle, "If you believe a liberal arts education has no value in today's technology-driven economy, this is not the funder for you. However, if you're committed to fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the Big Apple's youth, the Teagle Foundation may be a grantmaker to consider."
We weren't lying.
Like Mellon, Teagle wants to turn kids into well-rounded Renaissance men and women, but while Mellon starts with liberal arts students, Teagle is setting its sights on aspiring engineers.
Teagle will allocate $398,000 over 36 months to five partner institutions that will build upon previous Teagle grants to integrate the liberal arts in engineering curricula. The five schools participating in the Integrating the Liberal Arts Through the Grand Challenge Scholars Program Framework—that's the LATTGCSPF for those keeping track at home—include Rochester Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, Lawrence Technological Institute, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
It's one of many grants Teagle has awarded as of late to bridge the engineering and liberal arts worlds. For example, a similar grant went to four campuses in the California State University system to "develop vertical integration of the liberal arts into the professional preparation of undergraduate engineering students."