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Funded Projects: Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges

Today, more than half of post-secondary students in the U.S. attend community colleges. Yet the essential role of humanities instruction at these institutions is sometimes overlooked – despite the fact that many students’ only serious study of the humanities takes place in two-year college classrooms.

Reflecting a commitment to this vital and growing sector in higher education, the National Endowment for the Humanities offers NEH Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges, a program to advance humanities teaching at community colleges through sustained faculty and curriculum development.

Funded projects focus on the theme of Bridging Cultures, an agency-wide initiative that encourages exploration of the ways in which cultures from around the globe, as well as cultures within America’s borders, have influenced American society. Since 2011, eleven institutions have been awarded up to $360,000 for national and regional projects to be held in 2012-16. (Please note that the funding amount is now up to $120,000 for local projects.)

Some projects advance an international understanding of Bridging Cultures. At University of Virginia, Strengthening Global Humanities at Virginia's Community Colleges is a faculty and curriculum development project on the religions and cultures of Asia, the Middle East, and Russia for 36 faculty and administrators from five Virginia community colleges. The East-West Center is offering Asian Traditions and Cultural Differences, in which faculty and administrators study the historical dynamics of cultural interaction in China and Southeast Asia, focusing on the arts, literature, religions, knowledge systems, and trade. Community College of Philadelphia is partnering with the University of Pennsylvania to conduct a faculty and curriculum development project on cultural divides and diversity in India. In the Community College Humanities Association’s Advancing the Humanities at Community Colleges, participants revitalize introductory courses through the study of Islamic history and cultures, the African experience in the United States, human rights and ethics, and Latino/a literature.

Other projects focus on American ideas, events, and themes. As part of the American Historical Association’s American History, Atlantic and Pacific, participants from twelve community colleges explore ways to internationalize the U.S. history survey, using the resources of the Huntington Library and the Library of Congress.  The Newberry Library’s Out of Many - Religious Pluralism in America brings together 20 community college faculty to explore religious pluralism in U.S. history through discussions with scholars and collaborative research. A three-year project at the Ohio Historical Society, Native Americans in the Midwest, focuses on the history of Midwestern Native American tribes and involves 36 community college faculty and administrators in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Difference, Community, and Democratic Thinking focuses on American cultural diversity and democracy. At The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Bridging Historias through Latino History and Culture is a project on Latino/a history for 42 community college faculty and administrators in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and eastern Pennsylvania. Bunker Hill Community College, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts, Boston, conducts a faculty and curriculum development project in Asian American studies. East European Studies in America, a project by University of Pittsburgh in partnership with Community College of Beaver County, focuses on change and adaptation in East European culture and its impact on western Pennsylvania history.

To read more about this grant opportunity, please visit