Engaged Humanities Initiative
Proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) October 6, 2017
The purpose of the Mellon Engaged Humanities Initiative (EHI) is to consider the scope and content of humanities education at UIC and expand the opportunities for undergraduate research in the humanities. We will accomplish this by creating a pathway through the curriculum that leads to a research project during the summer of junior and senior years. This pathway involves UIC’s faculty in the humanities at every step, and uses these student-faculty interactions to explore how humanities research, curriculum, and pedagogy can be transformed by the interests and experiences of this generation of learners. Secondarily, this initiative will strengthen and expand the mission and scope of the UIC Institute for the Humanities (the Institute), which to date has been focused primarily on faculty initiatives, by making it a partner in the EHI. The Institute will involve undergraduates by providing a place to which they will go often to meet with mentors, attend lectures and workshops, and pursue their own intellectual and professional development. This structured interaction with the Institute’s fellows and the broader constituency of faculty involved with the Institute will help students become attuned to the culture of academia and ultimately influence some of them to pursue graduate degrees in the humanities.
Our objective is not just to train a new generation of undergraduates to appreciate the humanities and pursue graduate school. It is also to democratize the curriculum for our students by ensuring that students and professors become co-learners about topics that the students find relevant and important to their own education. Since our students come from such diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds, the topics they select will invariably dwell outside dominant-culture paradigms. Thus, the EHI will create the opportunity for faculty to reexamine and further articulate their understanding of the content and relevance of the humanities in 21st century higher education. Through engagement among students and faculty, enhanced undergraduate research, curricular innovation, and exploration of new pedagogies, we will strive to expand how we conceptualize and teach the humanities. Faculty will teach key seminars along the pathway and serve as mentors, initially introducing students to the engaged humanities, then encouraging them to develop original research topics and methods that extend their knowledge of the humanities to new contexts, institutions, and communities beyond the university setting, and finally mentoring and supporting students as they prepare for graduate school and other careers.
The key to this proposal is that UIC students will not only have the opportunity to learn the ways in which study of the humanities can enrich their lives and their futures, but the students will also contribute to shaping what and how they learn. The EHI will encourage the flow of knowledge from students into the academic enterprise, and then equip those students with the tools to enhance their careers and their communities. The academic interests and life experiences that UIC students bring with them will, in the context of mentor-mentee relationships, lead to fresh perspectives and approaches that will contribute to furthering engaged humanities research at UIC. This kind of synergy has tremendous potential to inspire research initiatives and pedagogical and curricular innovation. As discussed below, faculty members in many departments at UIC are already doing engaged humanities work, which makes UIC an ideal place to further incentivize and expand this work to include students at all levels.
The need to adapt postsecondary research and pedagogical practices to this generation of learners is well documented. Today’s students arrive at the university having grown up with computers and the Internet; not knowing a time when information (and disinformation) about anything was more than a few clicks away. College students and their families today often understand themselves as consumers, perhaps as clients, of their institution who are investing time and money in return for an education that will lead to gainful employment and economic stability.
This new reality makes the humanities and humanities education more important than ever, even as it makes this importance less immediately obvious. The EHI aims to connect knowledge in critical thinking, narrative and artistic representation, social commentary, and historical perspective (at the core of humanities scholarship) to issues and problems of immediate concern and resonance to students and their communities.
An urban, public, Carnegie One research university, UIC has no racial or ethnic majority among its student body. According to the most recent US News and World Report rankings, we are among the ten most diverse universities in the nation. The total UIC student population is now over 30,000. Among the 19,444 undergraduates, the students are 33% Latino, 30% white, 21% Asian, 8% African American and 8% other. The majority of our students are Pell eligible, a large percentage is first-generation college going, and there is a significant population of undocumented students at UIC. We are an AANAPISI and an HSI institution. The UIC student population embodies the diverse perspectives that define our time. Because of their own experience, many of our students have grown up thinking about issues of inequality and social justice, about sustainability, and personal expression. These issues, and others, are ripe for further exploration by our students in the context of an education in the humanities.
UIC’s commitment to inclusion amid this diversity is set forth in the 2016 Strategic Priorities and the Mosaic for UIC Transformation, a diversity strategic plan completed at UIC in 2012. This plan aptly states:
Representational diversity is a resource that must be intelligently and intentionally drawn on to be appreciated and ultimately produce positive outcomes. Representational diversity is but the first step in a spectrum of intentional efforts designed to maximize the benefits of diversity by incorporating it in our living, teaching, learning, research, and public service. – A Mosaic for UIC Transformation
The EHI will further this goal by leveraging the diversity of our students to move us toward broadening the scope of humanities research, pedagogical methods, and curriculum.
Undergraduate Curriculum and Research in the Humanities
One key goal of this initiative is to incentivize more faculty and undergraduate students to be involved in undergraduate research, and to build a culture at UIC where this kind of relationship around cutting-edge humanities research is built into undergraduate education. In order to be successful, this initiative must be able to attract and retain undergraduate students, many of who must work in order to afford college. The program must be constructed to involve students who have developed an interest in the humanities and humanities research, provide interesting and accessible research opportunities for those students, make it possible for them to afford to take part in an in-depth research project over an extended period of time, and introduce these students to the possibility of graduate work in the humanities. Whether students employ their research in academia or in institutions and communities outside the university setting, the program will foster engaged humanities as a paradigm that will, we expect, broaden scholarly approaches to humanities research and education, and help to change traditional perceptions of academia’s relation to public life. At a more practical level for students, the EHI will cultivate research skills, theoretical acuity, and productive methodologies for solving problems to be found in a range of professional trajectories.
Current undergraduate humanities research programs on campus sometimes have to turn away students because of insufficient resources. The Mellon Engaged Humanities Initiative will expand undergraduate research in an intentional and structured way, utilizing a funnel approach by introducing a large cohort of first-year students to a humanities curriculum, expecting about 50% of those students to continue into a more intensive sophomore seminar and then a smaller number of students will undertake research and engage in related collateral activities in the summers before and during the junior and senior years. Thus, the program will provide opportunities for research to those students who are interested and who have been prepared for that track, and would support their research financially and through mentorship. Although we will utilize this funnel approach, we will also ensure that students who do not take the freshman and/or sophomore seminar have the opportunity to apply to do research in this program. Transfer students, for example, will have this opportunity, as well as students who, for whatever reason, did not elect to do one or both of the seminars. During their junior and senior years, students will be exposed in multiple ways to the elements of graduate study and to the nature of an academic career, including interaction with graduate students, encouragement to become mentors themselves, and further involvement in the academic life of the UIC Institute for the Humanities.
The Institute for the Humanities at UIC has a very successful program supporting faculty doing humanities research. Significantly, the new director, Professor Mark Canuel, has a stated desire to expand the Institute’s activities to undergraduate students in a way that will capture their imaginations and encourage their interest in humanities research. The EHI will be housed in the Institute, thereby broadening its scope and turning it into a much more comprehensive and visible hub of humanities research and innovation on the campus. Faculty members will form a new EHI working group at the Institute, which will be focused on the engaged humanities and will join the existing working group structure. This EHI group will connect with all of the EHI students, but particularly the juniors and seniors doing EHI research.
The proposed Office of the EHI Program Director, housed in the Institute for the Humanities, will oversee, centralize and provide visibility for the EHI. The Director will recruit faculty to teach the freshman and sophomore seminars, pair students with appropriate faculty mentors, encourage and help guide students in choosing and pursuing their engaged humanities research, organize and oversee student participation in related EHI activities and be responsible for tracking the EHI grant and submitting reports. A half-time staff person will provide administrative and logistical support to the EHI director.
EHI Pathway: Freshman/Sophomore Curriculum
Foundational to the EHI are freshman and sophomore seminars. The freshman seminar, a 100- level course, will introduce students to the study of the humanities generally and through the particular discipline of the faculty member teaching it. We expect a maximum of 80 students to participate in 4 freshman seminars, with 20 or fewer students in each. These seminars will allow us to identify first-year students with a strong interest in the humanities and get them started thinking about topics and areas of study they may wish to explore in subsequent years. The seminars will be offered in both semesters of the first year to provide maximum flexibility and achieve the enrollment goals. After the first year, we will assess if this was the most effective way to offer the seminars, or if they should all be offered in the second semester.
Recruitment of students for the freshman seminar will take place through new admissions materials created by humanities disciplines in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts, and at campus preview days and orientation.
Another key recruitment time will be during UIC’s Summer College. This six-week, pre- matriculation experience presents new students with a number of academic enrichment opportunities. The Office of Undergraduate Research offers two interconnected day-long workshops on “Making the Connection: The Research University and You.” Humanities students generally constitute about 25% of the Summer College students and often communicate a special interest in finding out early what UIC has to offer them. During this two-day program, the EHI and Office of Undergraduate Research will host a humanities-focused workshop and humanities faculty-meet-and-greet with students, which will help students learn about and take steps to prepare for the first stage of their EHI experience.
Past experience indicates that in order for a humanities course to attract freshmen, it must also help them satisfy credit hours required for graduation. Therefore, these first-year, writing intensive seminars will grant general education credit and, for those students who received a grade of B or better, credit for a required first-year, research paper composition course. To facilitate this, we will pair each seminar with a weekly, one-hour required workshop. These workshops, led by graduate students trained in the teaching of composition (we already offer this training), will provide necessary skill-building, writing support, and confidence-building for our students. We have found that providing early and intensive interventions in building writing skills is crucial to increasing on-time graduation, especially in light of the large percentage of our students for whom English is not their first language. We also see the benefit to the graduate students assigned to these courses; because they will attend the classes and work closely with the faculty members who are designing and teaching them, they too will learn new engaged modes of thinking about and teaching the humanities.
The second seminar will be designed for sophomore students (200-level) with a two-fold aim. The first aim is to expose students to the kinds of ideas, concepts, and theories they would encounter in humanities graduate programs. Questions to be discussed might include: What is the Enlightenment and why have approaches/analyses to this era changed so much over the last few decades? What defines the “human” element in humanities, and how are human beings connected to other organisms? How did the humanities arise as a distinct area of inquiry, and how has that inquiry changed over time? How can we read literature, history, and philosophy to understand developments in human society from antiquity to the current day?
The other aim of this 200-level seminar is to prepare students for independent, engaged research. Students will interact with faculty teaching the courses, as well as faculty associated with the Institute and peer mentors (described below) to begin sketching out a project to be developed during their junior year. Whereas the freshman seminar will be open to any interested student and will act as one funnel and recruitment tool for the EHI, the 200-level course will be open to students through nomination by a faculty member or advisor or through self-nomination.
Students who transferred into UIC or for some other reason did not have the opportunity to take the freshman seminar will also be eligible. Interested students will be assigned a faculty mentor with whom to work outside of the class to develop a project that would start in the summer following the sophomore year. The Director of the EHI, working in concert with the Director of the Institute for the Humanities, will find appropriate faculty mentors for students in this program. The EHI Director will develop workshops and other activities to stimulate student thinking about possible research projects. Collateral to enrollment in the sophomore seminar, students will be required to attend two such workshops each semester as well as the Mellon Lecture in the Engaged Humanities (described below) and one additional lecture at the Institute.
We would expect a maximum of 40 students to participate in these seminars – divided into 2 seminars of up to 20 students in each. Faculty teaching one of the freshman or sophomore seminars will be expected to serve as mentors, and other faculty, particularly those associated with the Institute for the Humanities through one of the working groups, will serve as mentors as well. Based on the number of faculty who have volunteered to direct undergraduate research in the past, including dozens from the Honors College, we expect to fill the mentor roles easily with current, full-time, tenured and tenure track faculty. Students enrolled in the sophomore seminar would receive $1000 to support participation in the collateral programming described above.
We propose that the Mellon EHI fund the graduate teaching assistants for the freshman seminars, the student stipends for activities collateral to the sophomore seminar as well as the funds provided to faculty to support faculty preparation of the new seminars. This preparation is key because the teaching materials for these seminars will become part of a library of engaged humanities teaching materials kept under the auspices of the UIC Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Communities, described below. The UIC Office of the Provost will cover costs necessary to buy out faculty teaching so that they are available to teach the seminars.
EHI Pathway: Junior/Senior Research and Career Enhancement
Students will begin mentored engaged humanities work in the summer after the sophomore year, funded by $3500 from the EHI. These funds could have multiple uses, including supporting study abroad experiences, travel to archives, participation in engaged humanities internships, and research. Importantly, given the low-income level of the majority of our students, these funds will allow the students to take the time to devote to these activities without the burden of working at a regular job for many hours a week.
Faculty mentors will continue to work with the students who elect to continue after the sophomore seminar through the summer and into their junior year to undertake and complete a research project. Students will register for an Independent Study (under faculty supervision) each semester to complete their projects. One thousand dollars per student will be available to support their related EHI activities, including required workshops and lectures at the Institute. Transfer students and other students who did not take the earlier seminars will be eligible for the research phase of the EHI program by application to the EHI Director. It is worth noting that we have a strong partnership with the Chicago Community Colleges (CCC) and already work with their advisors as part of the Star Scholar program whereby UIC provides scholarships for high achieving CCC students to attend UIC after they obtain an associates degree. We would leverage the relationships with the CCC advisors to notify students of this opportunity. We will work to make this opportunity known and available to transfer students from other community colleges as well.
We have selected the junior year as the best time for substantial completion of the research project because this project could potentially form an important part of a student’s application to graduate school in the senior year. It would be invaluable in providing students direct experience developing and revising major written work, a precursor of the MA-thesis-to-dissertation or the dissertation-to-book process. Students could also use the junior project as the foundation for a revised or expanded senior project qualifying them for graduation with high or highest distinction in the major or from the UIC Honors College.
Students will be eligible to receive an additional $3500 for mentored research and academic development activities in the summer between the junior and senior years. As in the summer prior, these funds could have purposes in addition to research, including enabling study abroad experiences, travel to archives, and participation in engaged humanities internships.
Additionally, these funds could be used for summer or academic year travel to present completed or in-progress research at conferences open to undergraduates, such as the Stacy Undergraduate Research Conference at Purdue-Calumet, the Midwest Gender Studies Conference at Notre Dame, the Undergraduate Linguistics Conference at Michigan State, the Black Doctoral Network Conference undergraduate presentation session, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Undergraduate Conference, or the Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities.
Once these students begin their senior year, we would expect them to remain connected to the EHI, to communicate their research findings to the broader scholarly community, and in some instances “give back” to their fellow students. During their senior year, students would be eligible for an award of $1000 to pay for travel to present at conferences, including but not limited to those named above, and/or to serve as peer tutors or mentors. In the latter case, they could be assigned to work with students in any part of this program: as writing tutors for the first-year seminar or as mentors to sophomores in the EHI. UIC has well-established and successful peer-led programs upon which the EHI could build. In order to qualify for this level of funding, the students would need to apply to the EHI Director and demonstrate a substantial commitment to these kinds of EHI activities.
Workshops arranged by the EHI Director and centered on thesis writing and revision would approximate the atmosphere in an MA program, thus smoothing the transition between undergraduate and graduate studies. The EHI Director will also create career-oriented workshops addressing graduate school applications, post-baccalaureate fellowships, and jobs for the students in the program. Faculty mentors will be encouraged to hone their conversations with seniors about the match between their interests, source texts and methodologies, and the foci of the graduate programs or other positions to which they aspire to apply.
In summary, the EHI student pathway would be the following:
- Four freshman seminars (up to 20 students/seminar) introducing students to the field of humanities and open to any first-year student. There is TA and faculty funding, but no student funding, associated with these
- Two sophomore seminars (up to 20 students/seminar) introducing elements of the humanities as a discipline, and working towards choosing research questions in the engaged or public humanities. This seminar would require nomination. Students would receive $1000 to support participation in the required co-curricular programming related to the seminar and the development of a research
- During the summer after the sophomore year, interested students would embark upon research on a project developed initially in the sophomore seminar, with a faculty mentor in the field, and receive a $3500 award to support their work. Students would continue this work during the junior year by taking an independent study for credit with their mentor, and continue in the following summer, again with $3500 in
- The EHI will provide $1000 to students doing research during the junior year in order to support their related EHI
- Students will be eligible to receive an additional $3500 for mentored research and academic development activities in the summer between the junior and senior
- Seniors could continue work on their research paper or project, communicate their research through presentations and publications, and serve as peer-mentors and/or tutors to students in the first or second year of the EHI pathway. $1000 would be available to fund these
- All EHI students will be made aware of opportunities to attend workshops and lectures at the UIC Institute for the Humanities, some of which will be developed for EHI students by the EHI
- Students, as part of their course work for the humanities seminars during the first and second years, will be required to attend at least two workshops and two lectures during each semester, completing detailed reports on their
- Juniors and seniors in the EHI Pathway, who will already be connected to the Institute for the Humanities, will be invited and expected to connect with the full program of intellectual engagement at the Institute—readings, discussions, lectures, and
Role of the EHI Director
The EHI Director will be a half-time position of a current faculty member. The Director’s primary responsibility will be overseeing the student pathway and the required collateral activities and to recruit faculty to teach the freshman and sophomore seminars and serve as mentors. The other main responsibility of the EHI Director will be to meet regularly with faculty teaching the freshman and sophomore seminars and work with them to turn the seminar materials, which will be new courses at UIC, into teaching materials available to other faculty in the humanities. The goal is to create a set of best practices for teaching the engaged humanities by utilizing the materials and the experiences of the faculty who develop and teach these courses. We would make these resources available under the auspices of, and incorporated into the website of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Communities (described below), which will also incorporate these teaching practices into workshops available to all faculty.
Long term, the position of the EHI Director may become full-time by adding responsibility for all undergraduate research in the humanities, not just for the EHI. UIC already has other opportunities and funding for undergraduate research in the humanities, but it is sprinkled throughout various departments and is underfunded. It would be more effective to have one person who can coordinate all of these efforts, including the EHI. If it becomes clear that this position should be established before the EHI grant period ends, the Office of the Provost will provide the additional funds to turn the EHI Director position into a full-time position.
Role of the Faculty
Faculty will be involved at every stage of the EHI Pathway and they are key to the success of the EHI and the institutionalization at UIC of the engaged humanities as the initiative progresses.
Faculty will teach the freshman and sophomore seminars, and will then serve as mentors to juniors and seniors who remain in the program. There will be $500 per student available (though capped at $1000) as an incentive to motivate more faculty to devise creative ways to engage undergraduates in their work and to learn from them. The Institute for the Humanities provides a ready-made hub for connecting students with leading researchers throughout the humanities departments at UIC. The Faculty Fellowship Program, already part of the Institute for the Humanities, working groups, and other workshops and lectures will function in two crucial ways for the EHI students. First, these will expose students to the impressive range of humanities work that is being done at the university, much of it consisting of compelling instances of engaged scholarship. The Mellon-funded “Humanities Without Walls” program, which includes initiatives ranging from the Freshwater Lab and the Political Ecologies workshop, to the work on Chicana oral histories and Muslims in the Midwest, are a few of many examples. Second, this association will offer students opportunities to find faculty with compatible interests for mentoring relationships; the Institute for the Humanities will host events and offer a collegial environment for igniting innovative research and fostering cross-disciplinary collaboration.
We further expect additional synergies to grow between EHI and the recently created Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty (PIF) Program that provides mentoring as well as support and professional development opportunities to graduate students who are interested in pursuing faculty careers and who are from groups under-represented in their disciplines. Graduate students in this program would be excellent partners in exposing undergraduates to the engaged humanities and reimagining humanities curriculum. These connections, though not a formal part of the EHI, will not only enrich the undergraduate experience in EHI, but will be an invaluable opportunity for professional development for the PIF students.
Pedagogical Innovation in the Humanities
Developing greater interest in the study of the humanities among current and prospective students at UIC is an overriding goal of the EHI, even for students who do not participate in directed research. One way to help students see what the humanities have to offer is through pedagogical and curricular innovations that make the value and possibilities of humanistic study clearer and more accessible. There are many approaches to such innovation because it must touch on three key aspects: how we understand the role of the humanities in undergraduate education; the content of the humanities curriculum within and between the disciplines; and how that curriculum is presented and taught. There are faculty at UIC already deeply engaged in this activity. For example, Professor Anthony Laden, Chair of the Department of Philosophy, is co- Director of the Center for Education and Ethics. This center hosts numerous programs and workshops aimed at considering ethical issues in higher education. Under his leadership, the department has undertaken significant undergraduate curricular revision meant to show the relevance of philosophy to contemporary issues in a compelling and lively way.
The Department of History at UIC has established an undergraduate internship program that will give students a field experience as well as some practical on-the-job training. On the graduate level the department was recently selected by the American Historical Association to serve as one of several experimental sites for creating a more practical graduate education. The English Department has recently expanded its curriculum to offer a Professional Writing Major Concentration and Minor which are designed to show students how the concepts they are exposed to in humanities courses—the shape of narrative, the efficacy of metaphor, the effects of form, historical understanding, etc.— can be extended to and play an important role in all types of discussions and writing for the public.
Mellon Lectures in the Engaged Humanities
The EHI will further support pedagogical innovation in humanities education by supporting the Mellon Lectures in the Engaged Humanities. The new Engaged Humanities working group in the Institute will administer this lecture series for the Humanities, mentioned above. The Engaged Humanities working group will invite to campus faculty and other professionals who are actively connecting their humanities research and expertise to real world problems. These lectures will assist and inspire us as we come together to re-envision the humanities to better serve our students. The speakers’ responsibility will include not only a lecture, but also a workshop to ensure the opportunity for interaction with faculty and EHI students. Examples of scholars who are publicly connecting the humanities to real world issues and whom we could potentially invite for this series include Jeremy Waldron (NYU), Sarah-Hane Leslie (Princeton), Jason Stanley (Yale), Marcia Chatelain (Georgetown), Craig Steven Wilder (MIT), Ramón Rivera-Servera (Northwestern). These are just examples – it would be the responsibility of the Engaged Humanities working group in the Institute for the Humanities to decide whom to invite for the Mellon Lectures.
Significantly, another benefit of the Mellon Lectures will be to expose students to people who have successfully used their humanities education and research in their careers. Thus, it will be important that the Mellon lecturers be a mix of academics and individuals pursuing non- academic careers. Their ability to articulate the connection between their education in the humanities and their current occupations will be key to identifying appropriate speakers. This will complement and expand on the already-existing Mellon-Funded Career Diversity
Workshops, which focus primarily on exposing graduate students to areas of professional work outside the academy. These are part of the Humanities Without Walls Program.
Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Communities
The existing Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Communities (TLC) at UIC will create a focus area on EHI pedagogy. In 2015, UIC initiated the TLC to facilitate the development of, and participation in, various learning communities where faculty engage in curricular, instructional, and innovation to improve student learning. The TLC is conceived as the central resource on campus for faculty who are interested in connecting with other faculty around pedagogy and new teaching techniques. After two years of operation, the TLC is undergoing a planned assessment by a faculty committee. This makes it an ideal time to make the TLC the home for resources developed by the EHI and to connect it to the concept of research as a critical pedagogical tool in the humanities. As the repository of cutting-edge teaching innovations in the humanities, the TLC will be tasked with providing resources for faculty who are developing new course materials for the first-year and sophomore seminars. The existing workshop structure of the TLC is ready-made for bringing in other faculty interested in re-envisioning their courses. Because the TLC is currently in some flux pending the outcome of the assessment, the UIC Office of the Provost will be responsible for funding this aspect of the EHI by providing $50,000 annually to the TLC to underwrite its support of the pedagogical innovations and the associated website described in this proposal.
There are several measurable outcomes of the EHI that we would track and utilize to assess the success of this program. Key outcomes would include:
- The number of students who progress through the program. The expectation is that the numbers would be as follows:
- 80 students in the first-year seminars;
- 40 students in the sophomore seminars;
- 20 students participate in the summer programs and the junior-year research projects;
- 20 students remain engaged as seniors, in revising research manuscripts and other products, peer mentoring and tutoring freshman and sophomores in the EHI, and/or preparing graduate school
- The number of EHI students who apply to graduate school in a humanities
- Steady growth in the number of UIC faculty mentors participating in the
- Utilization of the TLC by faculty, including creation of and steady growth in a web-based resource library of pedagogical and curricular resources developed through the freshman and sophomore
- Curricular revision and new courses outside of the seminars that reflect input from EHI sponsored
- Increased vitality and growth of the UIC Institute for the Humanities, as measured by
- Attendance at workshops and lectures;
- Engagement of faculty in the Institute’s working groups who serve as mentors to undergraduate researchers;
- Creation of an Engaged Humanities group, and robust faculty participation in that group over a period of
The Engaged Humanities Initiative will identify undergraduate students early and create a pathway for those interested in the humanities. It will democratize the humanities curriculum by placing undergraduates in a collaborative relationship with mentors to study topics that undergraduates themselves have identified as worthy. Undergraduate students will be taught and mentored in research by UIC’s top humanities faculty committed to helping students find their voices. By locating the program in UIC’s already vibrant Institute for the Humanities, the EHI will also help UIC begin a university-wide conversation about the ways in which humanities education must evolve for the future by engaging with undergraduates and bringing together faculty to discuss and experiment with new pedagogies and new curriculum. As this develops, we anticipate that it will become part of the conversation about the fundamentals of the curriculum as UIC begins a timely review of its general education program. Long term, this program will help UIC become a model of humanities education for the 21st century.