A major grant from the McGregor Fund of Detroit is providing additional opportunities for Hope College students to conduct original research.
The $100,000 award is supporting collaborative research between students and faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences. With its emphasis on active learning and one-on-one interaction, the three-year program underwritten by the grant adds an important dimension to the college's work with students, according to Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who is provost and professor of classics at Hope.
"Hope College works hard at preparing students to be productive members of the intellectual community who are able to pursue a variety of career opportunities," Nyenhuis said. "Collaborative research involves the student first-hand in the process of scholarly exploration and discovery which characterize the academic life."
Nyenhuis noted that the program, which was developed cooperatively by Hope's Deans' Council representing all of the college's academic divisions, with Dean James M. Gentile taking the lead, extends a model that has long proven effective in the natural sciences and mathematics at Hope. More than 100 students conduct research on campus in the natural sciences and mathematics each summer.
One reason for the new emphasis, Nyenhuis said, is that scholarship in the arts, humanities and social sciences has evolved.
"We recognize that the history of scholarship in the humanities in particular, and to some extent the social sciences, has been more of a solitary sort, whereas collaborative research has been more common in the natural sciences," he said. "Because of the changing nature of the scholarly work in the humanities and social sciences, however, there is a greater openness to collaborative research."
Using institutional funds, Hope has sponsored a limited program of research support in the additional disciplines for the past seven years. According to Nyenhuis, individual faculty members in the arts, humanities and social sciences have also used collaborative, research-based learning to good effect on their own. He feels that the time is right to broaden the approach.
"We've had faculty members who've demonstrated very clearly that student-faculty research in the arts, humanities and social sciences is indeed feasible, and in fact very valuable for student learning, in addition to contributing to the advancement of a faculty member's own scholarly work," he said.
An expansion of Hope's initial efforts, the grant from the McGregor Fund is supporting six students in full-time research with six faculty members for 10 weeks each summer beginning this year. The grant is also providing partial support for the students' faculty mentors as well as funding for mentor training, supplies and other expenses related to the researchers' work.
The plan, according to Nyenhuis, is for the McGregor Fund grant to serve as a catalyst, with Hope intending to continue and expand the program even after the grant support ends in 2003.
The McGregor Fund is a private foundation established in 1925 by gifts from Katherine and Tracy McGregor "to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being of mankind." The foundation awards grants to organizations in the following areas: human services, education, health care, arts and culture, and public benefit. The area of principal interest of the foundation is the City of Detroit and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
The McGregor Fund has granted more than $120 million since its founding and had assets of $200 million as of June 30, 2000. Additional information about the fund may be obtained at www.mcgregorfund.org.