Doane University was awarded a $499,116 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in October 2021 to develop a new Department of Ethics and Interfaith Studies (EIS). The grant also enables the university to expand the current NEH-supported Certificate in Integrated Humanities Program (CIHP). The grant was made possible through the NEH Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP) awards, which included $59 million in grants that provide direct emergency relief to 292 humanities institutions and organizations adversely affected by the pandemic throughout the U.S.
With the grant, Doane will retain one and fund a second faculty position within the humanities and, through the new department, will provide support and benefits to all majors, programs and students through coursework and faculty collaborations. For example, ethics and interfaith studies will be further integrated into Doane’s majors and programs by cross-listing courses, creating new courses and collaborating with faculty in other majors to modify existing course curricula.
The creation of the new department also allows Doane to develop ethics and interfaith studies as a new, interdisciplinary academic program. Through it, students will have the opportunity to explore the intersection of religions, ethical traditions and issues, and cultures to better understand the world and its diversity. This program will encompass multiple approaches from different fields of study, as well as experiential learning. It will be led by Dr. Dan Clanton, professor of religious studies, and an advisory committee including the director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and faculty from departments across the university.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to create and implement the Ethics and Interfaith Studies program. Through it, our goal is to produce leaders who will cooperate with others using their literacy and experiences to identify and propose solutions to our shared problems in a variety of contexts,” Clanton said. “This emphasis on skills, character formation and vocation is what makes a liberal arts education at Doane both practical and meaningful.”
The current NEH-supported CIHP creates innovative humanities pathways connected to non-humanities majors and pre-professional programs, and is overseen by Dr. Katy Hanggi, associate professor of English, department chair and CIHP project director.
“For students in our pre-med and pre-professional programs, this program builds off our core course offerings to integrate the humanities and social sciences in a way that benefits students in their chosen professions,” Hanggi said.
The current CIHP pathways are: Opioids and Addiction; Fear in the Present Age; and Medicine in America. These pathways include courses that cultivate and integrate critical thinking and other key habits from the humanities, in context with contemporary issues in physical and mental health professions. Throughout the four total courses of each pathway, experiential learning is also an essential component.
Students who have already completed these courses have reported that the interdisciplinary approach has completely changed the way they think about their futures in pre-med and pre-professional programs — for example, seeing their career path as a climbing wall rather than a ladder.
“The student engagement is really high in these classes, and faculty are saying they’ve been some of the best classes they’ve taught in their careers,” Hanggi said.
The support of the SHARP grant will additionally allow the university to expand the CIHP pathways to its Colleges of Business and Education.
The NEH SHARP awards are split in two categories: the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Organizations grants and the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grantmaking awards. Doane University’s grant falls into the first category.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the NEH and its grant programs is available at neh.gov.