Trenton’s educational institutions are a point of pride in the community and are one of the many reasons the city remains a destination. These facilities educate the next generation of innovators, adding tremendous value to our community. Thomas Edison State University (TESU), whose campus is in Downtown Trenton, exemplifies what it means to meet the community’s needs. Now, with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, TESU can continue to operate and platform a greater diversity of voices and perspectives integral to forging a more equitable future for us all.
TESU has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Spotlight on Humanities Development Grant for the university’s project, Incorporating DEI Concepts and Content Into Humanities General Education Courses.
The $60,000 NEH grant, the first of its kind for TESU, will be dispersed over two years to support the university’s integration of diversity and inclusion themes across a broader curriculum.
“We work continuously to update our academic offerings with a particular focus on incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into the relevant course content,” said Dr. Tara Kent, associate dean of the Heavin School of Arts, Sciences, and Technology at TESU and Director of Undergraduate Studies, who is working through the project’s implementation with Dr. Burton Peretti, assistant dean at the school. “This funding will enable us to extend our efforts in these areas.”
Per Kent, the award will also support the expansion of the school’s undergraduate Certificate in Diversity. The certificate program will provide students with a foundation to explore social inequalities related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, social class, and disabilities. The multidisciplinary certificate will include courses in the social sciences and humanities and provide students with the foundational knowledge to understand historical and contemporary sources of social inequities.
“The objective of the certificate program is to develop culturally competent professionals who are well prepared for living and working in a diverse local and global society,” noted Kent. “The coursework will enhance students’ baccalaureate studies personally and professionally, cultivating informed and empowered learners.”
According to NEH’s website, this funding cycle includes the first round of awards under the federal agency’s new Spotlight on Humanities in Higher Education grant program. Developed as part of the agency’s American Tapestry: Weaving Together Past, Present, and Future initiative, the program supports humanities teaching and research projects that benefit underserved populations at small- to mid-sized colleges and universities.
“We are extremely grateful to receive this highly competitive award,” said Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president of the university. “Purposeful DEI efforts are reshaping how higher education addresses social disparities and the distribution of opportunity while strengthening the value and applicability of our academic programs. We have made it a priority to embed these efforts across our curriculum and student learning environment. The NEH support reinforces that commitment and helps build an environment that embraces all our students’ unique experiences, aspirations, and identities.”
To learn more about the Heavin School of Arts, Sciences, and Technology, visit tesu.edu/heavin.