New Grant Will Enhance Ursinus ‘Culture of Service’

A grant to Ursinus College will enhance the campus culture of service and community engagement. Ursinus is one of 33 institutions in the United States to be awarded a $38,720 NetVUE grant through the Council for Independent Colleges.

In addition to building on the successes of the Common Intellectual Experience first year course, and the Independent Learning Experience required for graduation, Ursinus College plans to act upon a critical component of a recently adopted strategic plan: to improve our “culture of service and community engagement.”

“Our goals are to enhance opportunities at a college already rich in civic engagement experiences and provide faculty and students with greater opportunities to find ways to put theliberal arts to work in addressing the needs of society,” said Professor of Politics and International Relations Steven Hood, who will help oversee the grant. “It is not enough to provide public service.  The purposes of public service need to be thought through in a serious way to make sure that our students are not only effective in their professions, but have confidence and experience to move beyond their offices, labs and meeting rooms and offer real leadership so that we can improve people’s lives and build communities.”

The Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) grant will focus on three areas:

The first is to convene workshops that will consider the question of civic engagement and how it should be taught and then establish methods for helping faculty integrate civic engagement components into existing and new courses. Additionally, it will fund faculty workshops about off-campus opportunities and new ways to address students’ vocational needs through coursework and advising, and more information about the needs of the community.

The second area helps fund students who want to do specific internships, research projects and service learning opportunities, based on creating positive change in the student and in society. Conferences that will allow students to reflect on what they have learned about themselves, their projects, the organizations they worked for, and the communities in which they served.

And, the grant offers increased support of the college Chaplain’s work on social issues, including retreats, seminary visits, vocational conferences, and training sessions to give students the tools they need to meet the challenges they will face in their quest to  serve.

The NetVUE grant is the third major grant for the campus in the past six months, following an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the Center for Science and the Common Good, and an award of $300,000 from the Mellon Foundation to name CIE Fellows and study core curriculum with Columbia University.