Loras receives $99,991 grant from National Endowment for Humanities

Robert Waterbury

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Loras College has received a $99,991 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Loras is the only college in Iowa to receive such a grant. The funds will spur an undergraduate program entitled “Building Ecoliteracy: A General Education Track in Sustainability.”

Specifically, the grant will cover development of the program’s four courses that share the theme of sustainability and ecoliteracy. Ultimately, the program will offer a certificate in sustainability to students who complete the course series.

Christoffer Lammer-Heindel, Ph.D., assistant professor of philosophy, and Ben Darr, Ph.D., assistant professor of politics, co-directed the project through NEH’s Humanities Connections.

“The grant allows us to form collaborative course development teams for each course composed of a lead teacher and two collaborating teachers,” Lammer-Heindel said.  “Each course will incorporate interdisciplinary content, including insights from the humanities.”

New courses, developed from the core of existing courses at Loras, slated for launch in August 2018 include the chemistry of sustainability, where students place environmental problems in a scientific context; politics of global sustainability that, in part, examines urgent environmental problems on a global level; writing the Mississippi, a creative nonfiction workshop that aims to equip students to develop a closer connection to the land and see the need for sustainability in their future roles as environmental citizens; and sustainability ethics in practice, which will integrate environmental ethics, environmental science, and community-based learning to foster independent learning, creative inquiry, and applied ethical reasoning in the area of sustainability.

“We have a strong group of faculty on campus who are dedicated to educating students about ecological sustainability from a variety of fields,” Darr said. “This grant enables us to channel that energy into a program that will be transformative and empowering for students, no matter what their major.”

Other Loras faculty who will help launch “Building Ecoliteracy: A General Education Track in Sustainability” include Christina Edwards, assistant professor of chemistry; Jacob Kohlhaas, professor of theology; Kevin Koch, professor of English; Thomas Davis, professor of biology; Aditi Sinha, associate professor of biology; Paul Kohl, professor of communication arts; and Matthew Rissler, associate professor of mathematics.

In all the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced funding for 208 humanities projects totaling $21.7 million.

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