Continuing a tradition of support for faculty innovation and student engagement in the world beyond the classroom, the McGregor Fund will underwrite a College of Arts and Sciences initiative to develop new international learning experiences for undergraduates at Case Western Reserve University.
Building on Case's strengths in communications technology, the initiative will enable students to "attend" overseas lectures and symposia, participate in seminars with peers at foreign universities, and engage in other interactive learning opportunities via webcast or videoconference. The initiative will also encourage faculty exchanges as well as sustained collaborations between Case and institutions around the globe.
Under the three-year, $205,000 grant, the College of Arts and Sciences will establish a Worldwide Learning Environment (WLE) program. Beginning this fall, faculty members will be invited to submit proposals to WLE's faculty advisory committee, which expects to fund as many as ten projects each year. Grant monies may be used for advance trips to establish or formalize international collaborations, for visits by international scholars serving as lecturers or co-teachers, and for an array of technology-based interactions.
All faculty members applying to WLE will attend a seminar that explores educational innovation in a global context, developments in information technology, and ways of attracting additional support for international projects. Such support is critical to making these projects financially sustainable—a key goal of the initiative.
Assistant dean Molly Berger, one of several faculty members and administrators who collaborated on the McGregor proposal, says that the College is rethinking the traditional "study abroad" model.
"International exposure at the undergraduate level most often involves a semester or junior year abroad, or perhaps a summer course," she explains. "These experiences are important and meaningful, but they are also costly—both for the student and the institution. Through this grant, we hope to enable more students to participate in international experiences through creative ideas that take advantage of our strengths in communications technology."
The McGregor Fund is a private foundation organized "to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being of mankind." It was established by a $5,000 deed of gift from Tracy W. McGregor in 1925, and later augmented to nearly $10 million through subsequent gifts from Mr. McGregor and his wife, Katherine Whitney McGregor.
Through their generosity, over the past 80 years the Fund has provided more than $160 million in assistance to organizations serving the metropolitan Detroit area. The Fund conducts a special program of competitive grants for private liberal arts colleges and liberal arts colleges within private universities in Michigan and Ohio.
A previous McGregor grant supported collaborations between Arts and Sciences faculty at Case and University Circle's cultural and scientific institutions. As a result, visits to these institutions have become a defining feature of SAGES (the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship), the core curriculum for all Case undergraduates.