A prestigious $500,000 three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will aid Juniata College in launching its new general education curriculum.

The award marks the third time the college has received recognition from the foundation in the past four years, all aimed at building upon the learning experiences of Juniata’s students.

“This Mellon grant follows on the first two and provides us with the resources to implement the new curriculum,” said Juniata College provost Lauren Bowen.

Within a liberal arts setting, a curriculum redesign is standard every 20-30 years. Changes to the curriculum at Juniata College have been made in the past 15 years, but it has been 20-25 years since the last revision.

The new curriculum places a focus on community-based learning with an emphasis on service, internships and short projects.

“The funding provides support for a director of community-based learning,” Bowen said. “We will start the new curriculum with next year’s first-year class. It will be a four-year roll out, so we will be running two curricula when we launch in the fall of 2019.”

The development of the curriculum has been a collaborative effort.

“As a faculty, we organized a faculty learning community to start work on the curriculum even before we knew we had the Mellon grant,” she said. “The curriculum passed by an overwhelming majority and they are excited to implement a new way of educating students.”

Formed around the list of desired attributes a Juniata College graduate should possess as adopted in 2016, the new general education curriculum is designed to foster those traits in the student body through mentoring, research and experiential learning.

“I think that experiential education is the ability to take what they are learning in the world and take it back to the classroom,” said Bowen. “What you are doing in community service is real-world experience, which complements what you are learning from books and in the classroom.”

Binding learning opportunities in and out of the classroom, students stretch their skills and experiences.

“All the skills we want out of our college graduates, we are putting into practice in conjunction with community needs,” she said. “The local engagement requirement allows them to partner with their own communties or the Huntingdon community. We want our students to be in the world and of the world and committed to make a difference in the world.”

April can be reached at afeagley@huntingdondailynews.com.

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