Clark a partner in ‘Integrative Liberal Learning’ initiative

Clark University has been selected, along with eight other liberal arts colleges and universities, to partner with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in a new initiative called Faculty Leadership for Integrative Liberal Learning: Principles and Practices. Supported by a grant from The Teagle Foundation, this initiative addresses the urgent national imperative to provide students with more engaged educational experiences that teach them how to integrate and apply knowledge and transfer what they are learning from one context to another.
This initiative builds on the work AAC&U has begun through its Liberal Education and America’s Promise initiative and seeks to generate sustainable models of faculty development for integrative curricular designs. It aims to model ways to cultivate sustained and self-renewing faculty leadership for the cumulative aims and outcomes of integrative liberal learning across the curriculum. Besides Clark University, the following institutions will participate in the project: Babson College (MA), Bard College (NY), Colgate University (NY), Mount Holyoke College (MA), Skidmore College (NY), Wagner College (NY), Wellesley College (MA), and Wheaton College (MA). The initiative at each institution will be led by a team of three project liaisons—an academic administrator and two faculty members actively involved with work pertaining to the undergraduate curriculum. 

Nancy Budwig, Clark University Associate Provost and Dean of Research, will serve as academic administrator of the initiative. Faculty leadership at Clark includes: Michael Butler, Chair of Clark’s Undergraduate Academic Board and Associate Professor of Political Science; and Sarah Michaels, one of the Effective Practice Faculty Facilitators and Professor of Education).

“Clark is honored to be invited by the AAC&U to collaborate with other schools as we ensure students have the habits of mind and repertoires of practice necessary for leading lives of purpose and meaning,” Budwig said. “The Clark faculty has been engaging in lively campus discussions that reveal many powerful examples of deep and integrative learning taking place across the Clark campus, often leveraging faculty passion for scholarship as a platform for student learning. Widening the discussion to focus on faculty leadership models that make this work more sustainable is very timely and will benefit Clark’s work enormously.” Working together, faculty from the campuses will address ways to:

  • Articulate principles and practices to guide integrative liberal education for today’s students;

  • Create and strengthen models for faculty leadership and oversight of integrative liberal learning; and

  • Create and strengthen models for socializing newly appointed faculty to institutional goals for integrative liberal education and effective practice.

Project participants will share lessons and models through various AAC&U meetings, Web sites, and publications. This 30-month initiative will be led by AAC&U Senior Fellow, Ann Ferren and AAC&U Senior Director for Global Learning and Curricular Change, Kevin Hovland.

“Through our LEAP initiative, AAC&U is working on ways to help students integrate and apply what they are learning—what we are calling the 21st century liberal art,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider. “The institutions participating in this initiative are uniquely positioned to develop replicable curricular and faculty leadership models that ensure students achieve these outcomes so critical to their long-term success in an innovation-driven economy and globally interconnected world.”

Clark University will be the venue for the inaugural meeting of the AAC&U Consortium, Sunday, Oct. 21 to Tuesday, Oct. 23), which is funded by The Teagle Foundation.

AAC&U has also received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to foster broader engagement both with the innovative practices being advanced through this project and with the principles and practices for integrative liberal learning that the project expects to produce.

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,250 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.