Baird Jarman and Matt Whited to lead interdisciplinary teaching and learning effort

The effort is funded through a new Humanities Connections grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

20 May 2024 Posted In:
Collage of two headshots, one of Baird Jarman and one of Matt Whited.
Baird Jarman and Matt WhitedPhoto:

Carleton will advance interdisciplinary teaching and learning thanks to a new Humanities Connections grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Baird Jarman, director of the Humanities Center, David and Marian Adams Bryn-Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities, and professor of art history; and Matt Whited, director of the STEM Board and chair and professor of chemistry, will run the one-year, $49,778 grant.

Beginning in late summer 2024, the grant will first support faculty retreats to consider and address key issues such as course scheduling, faculty coordination, and funding for collaborative teaching. During winter break 2024, the grant will support a course-development workshop on multidisciplinary teaching. Then, during the first half of 2025, it will support stipends to develop multidisciplinary courses at Carleton. 

The resulting Curricular Bridge courses will aim to encourage students to think across academic boundaries and discover a wealth of overlaps and mixtures between subjects — exactly the goal of the NEH’s Humanities Connections program, which aims to expand the role of the humanities in undergraduate education by fostering partnerships between humanities faculty and counterparts in other areas of study, such as the physical and natural sciences.

“The traditional liberal arts emphasis on curricular exploration, while requiring a breadth of academic study, only goes so far toward showing the potential of interdisciplinary work,” said Jarman. “It leaves students to find for themselves connections and resonances between their courses. We hope these Curricular Bridge offerings will demonstrate exciting interdisciplinary work fueled by combinations of humanities and STEM fields. In turn, we hope this encourages students to see their declared majors less as silos of knowledge and more as hubs of activity.”

“I am especially excited for the opportunities provided by this grant to think deeply about strategies for enabling more and deeper links between STEM and humanities disciplines in our course offerings,” added Whited. “I know many STEM faculty are eager to partner with humanist colleagues in this work.”

Like other recent grants, such as art history professor Ross Elfline’s Mellon-funded ACM fellowship, this NEH award will enable Carleton to work toward two goals of the College’s strategic direction, Carleton 2033: The Liberal Arts in Action:

  • Goal 4: Carleton will model the interdisciplinary approaches needed for students to address the complex challenges of the future.
  • Goal 5: Carleton will create space for experimentation, exploration, and intellectual risk-taking inside and outside of the classroom.

The Curricular Bridge courses launched with grant support will help expand Carleton’s collection of inter-divisional courses, especially for students beyond their first term. The NEH grant will augment existing institutional support for this kind of teaching and learning, but also allow Carleton to better understand challenges to interdisciplinary teaching and to coordinate long-term solutions to those barriers. The project will thus strengthen the foundation for continued progress on teaching and learning across departmental and divisional lines.

Read on the Carleton Grants Office page.