National Lilly Foundation to Fund SHU Network Exchange in 2012

News Story: November 1, 2010

The national Lilly Foundation has approved a grant for Sacred Heart University to host a Network Exchange Program in April 2012 to demonstrate its common core curriculum, The Human Journey. One of the most respected charitable foundations in the country, the Lilly organization supports a wide variety of educational and health-related causes.

The three-day Network Exchange Program will allow the University to share and discuss the work of The Human Journey, as a case study in how to develop, implement and assess such a curriculum. A Network Exchange Program provides the time and space essential not only for “telling about the core” but demonstrating, step-by-step, the “how and how not” of developing, implementing, assessing and continuously improving a curriculum like this one. The Exchange will be a dialogue engaging participants in discussion of how to create and implement a core that is consistent with their own institution's mission and faith tradition. 

The Human Journey engages students in an integrated, multi-disciplinary understanding of the liberal arts and sciences, the Catholic intellectual tradition, and four fundamental and enduring questions of human meaning and value:

• What does it mean to be human?
• What does it mean to live a life of meaning and purpose?
• What does it mean to understand and appreciate the natural world? and
• What does it mean to form a more just society for the common good?

The courses that constitute this core are history, literature, a choice between a social science and a natural science, and a capstone course in religious studies or philosophy.  The four fundamental questions stated above frame the syllabus of each course taught in The Human Journey.  Each course also engages the Catholic intellectual tradition from the perspective of its discipline.

The Exchange will include the opportunity for all SHU administrators, faculty, and students to be present for visitors to discuss their experiences. Visitors will speak to administrators about initiating a core consistent with mission, establishing the leadership structure to organize and develop it, obtaining support through the school’s governance structure, and providing the necessary faculty development resources and full-time faculty positions to teach in the core. 

They will confer about how SHU faculty went from doubt and debate about the content and pedagogy for these courses to supporting, collaborating, teaching and leading in this core.  They will also discuss with faculty who participated in the Davis Educational Foundation Grant about how these faculty members grew from simply being specialists in their discipline to becoming teachers who appreciated and could practice the hard work of developing and teaching multi-disciplinary courses and colloquia.  And most important, they will have the opportunity to speak to students – freshmen to seniors – to hear about how a common core such as this one impacts their learning and understanding of the liberal arts, integrative learning, and a faith tradition.

According to Dr. Michelle Loris, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Exchange will see the University hosting academic administrators and professors from the Lilly Fellows institutions across the nation.  This Network Exchange will include opportunities for all participants to discuss how to develop and implement a core curriculum based on mission. Participants will come from schools with varied faith traditions, and each should recognize a process that will fit with their own institution. Joe Creech, the director of the Lilly Fellows, said, "The Lilly Board,” which is providing $25,000 in funding, “is very enthusiastic about Sacred Heart’s proposal for the Network Exchange Program."

The University’s Core Curriculum has earned widespread recognition and is one of 23 institutions nationwide to participate in the national initiative, Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility, of the American Association of Colleges and Universities.  This initiative focuses on developing students’ ethical and moral abilities and civic responsibilities.