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Bentley Creates New Humanities Programming with Prestigious Grant From National Endowment for the Humanities
At first glance, the pairing of Bentley University and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) might seem curious. After all, how often does a business university receive a $395,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities? The answer: not very often.
“The National Endowment for the Humanities is a very prestigious agency,” says Gesa Kirsch, director of the Valente Center and professor of English and Media Studies. “Obtaining an NEH grant is a very competitive endeavor. It’s very much a credit to Bentley’s growth and development in the humanities that we’ve been awarded such a grant.”
As Bentley has evolved from an accounting school on Boylston Street in Boston to a full-fledged university in Waltham, senior leadership understood the growing need to infuse Bentley’s business curriculum with a liberal dose of humanities-focused coursework.
When Bentley was awarded the $395,000 NEH challenge grant in 2011, it stipulated that Bentley raise matching funds in a three-to-one ratio by 2016, a five-and-a-half-year window. As of this writing, in less than three years, the university has nearly reached its goal of raising $1.185 million to support the following Valente Center for Arts and Sciences programs:
• The Humanities Research Seminar and Affiliated Fellowships support teaching and research around a single interdisciplinary theme over the course of a year. This seminar will bring together faculty members from Boston-area institutions and Bentley University. Students can work with faculty on the projects. “Up to five students can apply to become fellows,” explains Kirsch “We envision these students working with faculty in the program to finish their honors program capstone projects or Liberal Studies Major projects.”
• As part of the Visiting Humanities Scholar Program, outside scholars come to Bentley for a week-long visit. In addition to delivering a public address, they engage in a working seminar with Bentley faculty, visit classes, hold office hours and otherwise become immersed in campus life. Last year, visiting scholars included the University of Houston's Kristin Anderson and Chilean author Pía Barros. This spring a member of Iceland’s Parliament, Sigridur Ingibjörg Ingadóttir, will visit Bentley University.
• The Undergraduate Fellows Seminars enables a small group of students and faculty to study “great books” that focus on topics of enduring interest. Last semester, the focus was “Democracy in America,” and the students’ coursework was infused with real-world context when Robert DeLeo, Massachusetts Speaker of the House of Representatives, met with seminar participants in private for an hour before delivering a public address on campus in the Wilder Pavilion.
“Overall, this grant showcases how well Bentley has been able to enrich business education with the humanities,” says Kirsch. “We are honored to be recognized by the NEH, and are thrilled to put these critical funds to such good use.”
BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu.
Bentley University’s Co-Provost and Dean of Arts and Sciences Daniel Everett talked with us recently about a wide range of topics, including being featured in a new book by Tom Wolfe, two of his own upcoming books, the importance of studying the origins of language, and the value of a fusion approach to business education.