April 01, 2016, BY Christina Masciere Wallace

Taylor Hall

The Teagle Foundation has awarded Bucknell University, Franklin & Marshall College and the University of Pennsylvania a $280,000 grant to support integration of the liberal arts into undergraduate business education at the three institutions.

Bucknell will use its share of the grant — $100,000 — to develop a series of approximately 15 educational modules at the intersection of management and the liberal arts. Led by Professor Doug Allen, management, faculty from across the University will develop the modules, each of which will comprise a week's worth of class material in a new course that will begin in fall 2017.  

"Professor Allen's project will bring new energy and resources to collaborations between management and the liberal arts," said Michael Johnson-Cramer, director of the School of Management. "The most exciting part is that these efforts will directly affect how students frame the world's problems and conceive of their solutions."  

Allen, who chairs the Markets, Innovation & Design (MIDE) program, is a longtime proponent of the integration of the liberal arts and management. The Teagle Foundation grant application grew from his collaboration with similarly minded colleagues from F&M and Penn's Wharton School of Business at the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization.  

"A lot of the liberal arts perspective has been infused with the idea that a liberal arts education produces critical thinkers, which is a really great thing," said Allen. "We also want to make sure students have the confidence and inclination to translate this critical thinking into their actual practices when they encounter challenges outside the classroom. The modules will focus on cultivating forward-leaning, innovative habits that prepare students to come up with solutions to problems that are very unstructured — the kind of challenges they'll encounter throughout their lives."  

The MIDE major emphasizes connections in creative and technical design, marketing and innovation, and the process of creative thinking and acting. It also trains students to cultivate qualities that help them envision how their world could be improved. Some examples of habits taught in MIDE are learning to see the world through a "child's eye," embracing ambiguity, "failing forward" and developing creative confidence. Each module in the new Teagle-funded course will focus on a habit that helps students think about constructive, inventive approaches that could be applied to any number of situations.

The project will unfold over a three-year period. In the first year, Allen will work with management colleagues as well as faculty from other disciplines to develop module topics for the new MIDE course, which will be taught by interdisciplinary teams and refined in the second year of the project. By the third year, modules from the class will be fully developed, portable and available as individual units that can be integrated into courses across Bucknell's curriculum. Individual modules could evolve into presentations, snaptalks and even other courses.  

The grant is part of a larger Teagle initiative to support projects that integrate liberal arts content and perspectives into professional undergraduate education.  

"Bucknell's participation in this prestigious project recognizes our work and excellence," said David Foreman, the University's former director of corporate & foundation relations. "Undergraduate education has become more pre-professional at an earlier age, but Teagle and Bucknell believe that the liberal arts core remains essential."  

With their varying sizes and approaches to management education, Bucknell, F&M and Penn offer good learning opportunities for each other, Allen noted. At the conclusion of three years, the schools will present their findings at the Aspen Conference.  

Teagle Foundation grants are collaborative and focused on individual learning outcomes. Bucknell teamed with Lafayette College and Dickinson College in 2011 on a Teagle-funded project focused on diversity education. In 2006, the University received a Teagle grant for the study of secularity in liberal arts education as part of a group that included Vassar College, Macalester College and Williams College.  

Founded in 1944, the Teagle Foundation works to support and strengthen higher education, acting as a catalyst for improvements in teaching and learning in the arts and sciences. It sees such an education as a prerequisite for rewarding work, meaningful citizenship and a fulfilling life.