Stickin' it to the man since 1927.
Davis Educational Foundation grants Clark $260,338 for
Liberal Education and Effective Practice Initiative
By Gwen Walsh
Over the next three years, Clark University will be partnering with the Davis Educational Foundation (DEF) to radically enhance and revamp the academic undergraduate experience.
This will be accomplished through LEEP, the Liberal Education and Effective Practice initiative and a generous grant from the DEF.
“The educational goals of LEEP endorsed by the faculty are a strong vision and powerful statement of intent,” President David Angel said in his inaugural speech.
“Over the coming decade Clark will put in place a new model of liberal education that combines the enduring benefits of rigorous liberal education with the development of a broader set of capacities of effective practice—capacities that powerfully and distinctively enable students to pursue their passion with purpose in the world. … We will be thought a leader in liberal education.”
Clark received the $260,338 grant after Stanton Davis, who established DEF with his wife Elisabeth, retired as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. and decided to support local education.
The LEEP initiative was created by Angel while he was working as Provost, and according to a recent university press release, it is a “multi-year, campus-wide program that aims the re-invent the traditional, undergraduate liberal education.” The LEEP initiative will focus on meshing the existing “Perspectives,” critical thinking courses and major requirements with the new model of liberal education.
“One example is a new approach to the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) courses all Clarkies have to take. The new model will provide ‘clusters’ of PLS courses on a shared theme.
“So a student might have a chance to take, for example, three of their eight PLS courses on a theme of ‘water,’ and another set on, say, ‘the family,’” said Colin Polsky.
Polsky, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Research and Active Pedagogy and Associate Professor of Geography, will collaborate with Dean of the College Walter Wright on developing and instituting the fundamental components of the program.
Other important advancements will be changes to the First-Year Seminars and increased undergraduate research projects.
Ultimately LEEP strives to improve faculty engagement in advancing liberal principles and create unconventional opportunities for research and exploration.
Additionally the next phase of implementation will consist of a method of assessing and critically analyzing the program’s impact.
According to Polsky, LEEP has only been formally implemented this year, but there is significant evidence of its forefront principles on campus already.
Some examples include the Stickleback Research, the HERO Program, Difficult Dialogues, Student Academic Showcase and Summer Community of Scholars.
Also, in 2009 Clark and the Association of American Colleges and Universities hosted a conference about LEEP, which included various symposia and published works by experts in academia from both corporate and non-profit agencies.
Mary Ellen Boyle, Associate Dean of the College, will serve as program director for the three-year duration of the DEF Grant.
“Partnering with the Davis Educational Foundation around key components of the next phase of LEEP can help us realize the distinctive promise of this new model for 21st century liberal education,” she said.
The DEF, which was established in 1985 and provides academic support to accredited universities throughout New England, selected Clark for this grant because of its dedication to research and its progressive outlook.
“Simply put, Clark is a place where the faculty believe in LEEP’s arguments,” Polsky said, “and we also have the new leadership to turn the dream into a reality.”