Shimer College Receives $100,000 Grant From National Endowment For The Humanities
“Great Books, Great Art” Will Establish New Ways Of Integrating Art History Into Traditional Core Curricula
Shimer College has won a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that is on-going in the College’s new facilities in the heart of Chicago. The Curriculum Development grant funds a project titled "Great Books, Great Art: Integrating Art History into the Great Books Curriculum."
Under the grant Shimer College faculty are studying relationships between artistic masterpieces and the Great Books that form the school's classics-based curriculum. The faculty are designing new teaching units in Shimer's core, known as “The Hutchins Plan,” named for its designer, Robert M. Hutchins of the University of Chicago. The College’s new materials will be disseminated on its website and in collaboration with the Association of Core Texts & Courses.
From July 2005 to early 2007, Shimer College faculty will engage in a series of working sessions with three distinguished scholars in art history and theory: Professors Paul Barolsky of the University of Virginia, James Elkins of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Elizabeth Helsinger of the University of Chicago. An additional working session on architecture is now being considered, in view of the College’s historically significant built environment.
"We’re delighted that these eminent historians of art will lead our seminars, and we’re confident the impact will be felt beyond our walls," says William Craig Rice, Shimer’s new president. Rice came up with the idea of integrating the study of great works of art into Shimer's "Great Books" classes when he first arrived at Shimer in 2004. Although his own training is in literature and history, Rice is a champion of the arts in interdisciplinary education.
"For five decades Shimer College has boasted one of the best-designed courses of study in the country," Rice says. “When Robert Hutchins and his colleagues at the University of Chicago put it together, they paid little attention to the visual arts. This in fact has been a shortcoming of liberal arts core programs for a long time. But it just makes sense that if you study painting in Renaissance Florence, you can better understand Dante’s Inferno and Machiavelli’s Prince.”
“This project will allow our students to benefit from a rigorous education in the history of ideas paired with a carefully presented overview of how art and broader intellectual culture have influenced each other through the ages,” Rice notes.
The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. This year, the NEH received 126 applications in the category of "Grants for Teaching and Learning Resources and Curriculum Development." According to Judy Jeffrey Howard, NEH Senior Program Officer, "Shimer College's proposal was one of only four curriculum development proposals that were funded. Eighteen of the learning resources proposals were funded, but these curriculum development projects are very difficult to design. The committee felt that Shimer's proposal was very strong."
The proposal was authored by a small group of faculty and staff at the College. "The credit for this great success must go to John Meech, Kathleen Mullaney, Stuart Patterson, Don Moon, and Barbara Bogart," says Dean Barbara Stone, who is directing the project. "We’re grateful for their help in deepening and expanding the range of the Shimer core and giving us the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions."
Shimer is a small, independent, four-year liberal arts college with a new location on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology, minutes from the Chicago Loop. Shimer's academic programs feature small classes, discussion-based pedagogy, and a four-year interdisciplinary core in the Great Books. For more information, call Shimer College, Office of the President, at 312-235-3500.