GPC Tapped to Lead Initiative Funded by NEH Grant

07/23/2012
Contact: Rebecca Rakoczy
Phone: 678-891-2691
Fax: 678-891-2966   
Author: Rebecca Rakoczy   

For Immediate Release

Georgia Perimeter College is one of 10 community colleges in the nation selected to take the lead in a new initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The “Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Difference, Community and Democratic Thinking” grant is co-sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Democracy Commitment. Its focus is to build more effective forms of civic learning through the humanities and to help students become more civically engaged.

“As a member of the national network, Georgia Perimeter will be contributing to pioneering much needed curricular opportunities through humanities courses,” said Caryn Musli, AAC&U senior vice president and NEH project co-director. “We want students—and faculty—to explore questions about diversity and democracy and learn how to navigate and draw on differences to achieve shared goals. Georgia Perimeter promises to be a strong leader in this network.”

During the three-year program, faculty will attend workshops and be encouraged to adopt civic educational tools reported to contribute to student retention and graduation. As part of GPC’s involvement, the college’s EDGE team  will help faculty develop service-learning and civic-engagement opportunities that incorporate the key themes of the program. (The EDGE is part of the college-wide Quality Enhancement Plan to engage students to improve learning and their college experience.)

During the first year of the initiative, GPC team members will refine and formalize current civic-engagement and service-learning projects that aid immigrant and the refugee populations in Clarkston. The project will be rolled out for faculty at GPC’s Decatur, Dunwoody and Newton campuses in its second year.

GPC Clarkston faculty members Barbara Jean Hall, English/ESL; Beth Wallace, ESL; Mary Helen Ramming, English; Paul Hudson, History; and Shyam Sriram, Political Science, will be responsible for helping other faculty implement the civic-engagement curricular ideas in their classrooms. GPC service-learning coordinator Mary Elizabeth Tyler will help faculty develop service-learning opportunities that connect with the initiative.
Hall, Wallace, Ramming and Sriram have already been involved in three projects that form the core activities of the initiative. They include Connect to Success, which engages Georgia Perimeter ESL students in tutoring refugee students at a local elementary school; Project SHINE at the Clarkston Community Center, where GPC students help immigrants and refugees learn English and prepare for U.S. citizenship; and GPC Reads, an initiative that engages students, faculty and staff in theme-based active reading.

This grant comes at a crucial time, as fewer college students admit to being civically involved in their communities or the democratic process, said Dr. Sean Brumfield, director of the college's QEP.

“Too often, young people are not engaged in the democratic process at all—according to a U.S. Census of the November 2008 presidential election, 41.5 percent of Americans ages 18-24 didn’t even register to vote,” Brumfield said. “This program promises to give faculty better teaching tools to help students understand their role as active citizens and learn how to participate in the democratic process on a deeper, more experiential level. We hope students will take what they learn here and stay involved in their community beyond graduation.”

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Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves nearly 27,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.