Mellon Foundation awards $50,000 to reimagine Cornell core curriculum

Cornell College has been awarded a $50,000 planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to innovate and reform its general education curriculum.

IMG_9310_2“I am grateful for the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to allow us to reimagine the Cornell core curriculum for all of our students,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of College Joe Dieker. “Liberal arts education has evolved over the years to meet the needs of society and students in each era, and through this planning process Cornell College will ensure that our core educational offerings are relevant and meaningful for 21st century students.”

While the core curriculum has had minor modifications over the years, the college plans to make a more transformative change. This initiative will lay the groundwork for an ambitious reform of the college’s general education curriculum, including first-year academic programs, integrating opportunities to learn by experience, and the addition of more diverse and interdisciplinary content throughout the entire curriculum.

A task force headed by Dieker and comprised of faculty, staff, and students has already begun a yearlong process to develop a curriculum to meet the needs of modern students as they prepare to enter the workforce. It will focus on ensuring acquisition of important liberal arts learning skills (such as writing, speaking, and analytical thinking), learning by experience opportunities, breadth of learning in each discipline, and thinking across disciplines.

The process will involve discussion on campus among faculty, staff, and students, visits to other colleges with innovative programs, and participation in a national workshop on integrative learning in the liberal arts.

“As a result of this planning process we will seek to create a new and distinctive framework for general education at Cornell College that can be embraced and endorsed by the entire Cornell community,” Dieker said.

Cornell has received two major grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in the past five years, which helped fund the Cornell Summer Research Institute and faculty development in digital liberal arts, as well as other curricular enhancements.

For more information, please contact Public Relations Director Jill Hawk at or 319.895.4232.