Newberry President David Spadafora today announced that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has granted the library $326,803 to help community college faculty improve their instruction on American religious pluralism. Utilizing the Newberry’s rich collections and expertise, “Out of Many: Religious Pluralism in America” is a two-year, multi-day seminar program that will bring together 20 community college faculty to explore American religious pluralism through discussions with scholars in the field, public programs, and collaborative research focused on curriculum development.
“This is one of what we hope will be many programs involving our area community colleges, which play an important and, sometimes, pivotal role in furthering knowledge and fostering future scholarship,” Spadafora said. “This latest program nicely rounds out our academic programming, which serves undergraduate and graduate students, continuing scholars, short- and long-term Fellows, high-school teachers, and—most recently—community college instructors. We continue to be deeply grateful for the support of the NEH, without which we could not hope to fulfill our mission.”
“Out of Many: Religious Pluralism in America” will provide community college faculty knowledge and resources with which to design new courses or modify existing curriculum to integrate key episodes from America’s past and present that relate to American religious pluralism.
“Courses in history, literature, art, film, and philosophy, as well as more general ‘Introduction to the Humanities’ courses, can all be strengthened conceptually by drawing upon religious pluralism either as a the unifying theme of a new course or as a unit within preexisting syllabi,” Newberry Vice President of Research and Academic Programs Daniel Greene said. “Integrating the study of religious pluralism into the humanities curriculum also holds potentially important social benefits as well. Students will not only learn about the American past by studying religious pluralism, they also will come to better understand the diverse world in which they live.”
The grant was given to the Newberry’s Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture as part of the NEH’s overall Bridging Cultures initiative, which encourages projects that explore the ways in which cultures from around the globe, as well as the myriad subcultures within America’s borders, have influenced American society. Specifically, the Newberry program falls under the NEH’s Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges Grants, which advance the role of the humanities at community colleges through curriculum and faculty development projects.
The project will be directed by Greene and Christopher Cantwell, Assistant Director of the Scholl Center and religious historian who later this year will publish the paper “Beyond the Protestant Nation: Religion and the Narrative of American History” in the journal Fides et Historia. Greene, who last year was promoted from Director of the Scholl Center to his current position, was a curator and historian at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism: The Menorah Association and American Diversity (Indiana University Press, 2011).
“The National Endowment for the Humanities supports projects that document and explore the human endeavor in its many forms,” said NEH Chairman Jim Leach. “Whether it is preserving a valuable historical collection, enabling the production of a film or exhibition, or providing support for scholarly exploration of important topics in the humanities, the grants awarded today ensure that the shared stories of our past are available to communities across the nation for generations to come.”
The Newberry later will launch an expanded, enduring website featuring the faculty-generated teaching resources that stem from the seminars, which can then be used by all community college instructors as an online guide to integrating American religious pluralism into multiple humanities disciplines.
Serving the public since 1887, the Newberry is a world-renowned independent research library in Chicago with collections that span six centuries. Its core collections include materials related to the Renaissance, American Indians and indigenous peoples, modern manuscripts, cartography, American history and early modern religion. A community of learning in the city, the Newberry offers highly acclaimed programs for serious readers: fellowships for scholars, seminars for undergraduates, professional development activities for teachers, and a variety of adult education seminars, public lectures, and workshops. More information can be found at www.newberry.org
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.