The National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded $220,000 to a project originally funded by 4VA@Mason to focus on a deeper approach to teaching the history of higher education in the United States. Thanks to 4-VA’s seed funding, this research developed at the state level will now be propelled onto a national platform.
“Reimagining the History of Higher Education in the Digital Age,” was awarded a 4-VA@Mason Collaborative Research Grant in 2020, proposed by professor of higher education Kelly Schrum. Virginia Tech assistant professor Chase Catalano also received a 4-VA Complementary Grant at that time to launch the project in Blacksburg.
Once off the ground in 2021, colleagues at William and Mary, James Madison, and Old Dominion were interested in joining the endeavor, with Ben Boone, Art Dean, and Kim Bullington and Bill Nuckols, respectively, at the helm. WM, JMU, and ODU faculty also received 4-VA support for their contribution to the research.
Collaborating with Schrum at Mason is Nate Sleeter, Director of Educational Projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.
Since the outset of the project, participating faculty, students, and student researchers have curated more than 100 primary sources, created asynchronous learning activities for the course, collected input from history of higher education instructors, and developed an extremely well-received database of resources for the project website, the History of Higher Education: An Open Educational Resource — higheredhistory.gmu.edu.
In addition to primary and secondary sources, the website contains an invaluable database of institutional archives with digitized historical content, including yearbooks. Seven hundred institutional archives are cataloged on the site, including 48 Hispanic-Serving Institutions, 24 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and 15 women’s colleges. Additionally, the list includes 63 community colleges — especially important given the historic lack of attention to these institutions.
Recognizing the value of this new approach to more fully understand the history of higher education, the NEH grant will allow the 4-VA collaborators to expand the project https://unpacking.chss.gmu.edu/ and to conduct a Summer 2024 four-week institute, “Unpacking the History of Higher Education in the United States,” designed to improve the history of higher education courses nationally and to deepen humanities engagement among future higher education leaders.
“This project has been a wonderful exercise in collaboration and research,” concludes Schrum. “Working together and leveraging the resources at each university through 4-VA made this effort a success.”