Clark gets $260K Davis Foundation grant to support LEEP initiative

Clark University has received a $260,338 grant to support key components of its Liberal Education and Effective Practice Initiative (LEEP), a multi-year, campus-wide program that aims to re-invent traditional, undergraduate liberal education. The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation, established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc.

Clark’s LEEP Initiative is part of an ongoing process of boldly rethinking Clark’s undergraduate curriculum. The University has begun implementation and laid the groundwork for a successful rollout of this program in ways that link the existing Program of Liberal Studies and majors with the new model of liberal education.  The process is expected to:

  • deepen faculty engagement in rethinking liberal education;
  • build frame-breaking growth and exploration opportunities for students;
  • and develop a promising new program for assessing LEEP’s impact on student learning.

The Clark University LEEP Initiative was created under the leadership of President David Angel during his tenure as Provost.

In his inauguration address in September, President Angel said: “The educational goals of Liberal Education and Effective Practice endorsed by the faculty are a strong vision and powerful statement of intent. Over the coming decade Clark will put in place a new model of liberal education that combines the enduring benefits of rigorous liberal education with the development of a broader set of capacities of effective practice—capacities that powerfully and distinctively enable students to pursue their passion with purpose in the world. … We will be a thought leader in liberal education.”

Associate Dean of the College Mary Ellen Boyle will be the project director for the three-year Davis grant. “Partnering with the Davis Educational Foundation around key components of the next phase of LEEP can help us realize the distinctive promise of this new model for 21st century liberal education,” she said.

Dean of the College Walter Wright and Associate Dean of the College Colin Polsky will help design and implement elements of the program. The initiative has the strong support of Provost Davis Baird and Associate Provost and Dean of Research Nancy Budwig. Budwig has been strongly engaged with LEEP from the beginning, applying her background in the developmental and learning sciences and working to organize Clark’s LEEP Conference in Spring 2009. “There is a pressing need to consider how to organize the learning experience so that students think deeply about and can better navigate real-world problems in all their complexity," Budwig said.

The Davis Educational Foundation, established as a public charitable foundation in 1985, supports the undergraduate programs of public and private, regionally accredited, baccalaureate degree granting colleges and universities throughout the six New England states.

Since its founding in 1887, Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has a history of challenging convention. As an innovative liberal arts college and research university, Clark’s world-class faculty lead a community of creative thinkers and passionate doers and offer a range of expertise, particularly in the areas of psychology, geography, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. Clark’s students, faculty and alumni embody the Clark motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.

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