GCC Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

October 8, 2021

The National Endowment for the Humanities awards $194,212 to Greenfield Community College in support of Strengthening the Humanities in Rural Western Massachusetts Project

Greenfield Community College’s Strengthening the Humanities in Rural Western Massachusetts project will receive a $194,212 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The award is part of their Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP), supported by $135 million in supplemental funding allocated to NEH by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. GCC is one of nearly 300 cultural and educational institutions to receive funding, which is intended to help them recover from the economic impact of the pandemic, retain and rehire workers, and reopen sites, facilities, and programs.

“The American Rescue Plan recognizes that the cultural and educational sectors are essential components of the United States economy and civic life, vital to the health and resilience of American communities,” said NEH Acting Chair Adam Wolfson. “These new grants will provide a lifeline to the country’s colleges and universities, museums, libraries, archives, historical sites, and societies, save thousands of jobs in the humanities placed at risk by the pandemic, and help bring economic recovery to cultural and educational institutions and those they serve.”

Strengthening the Humanities in Rural Western Massachusetts is led by Matthew Barlow, GCC’s interim Dean of Humanities. The project will help recover jobs lost during the pandemic and bolster student enrollment by strengthening the humanities’ role in helping GCC students achieve their goals, whether those involve graduating, transferring to a four-year college, and/or entering the workforce.

“It’s really exciting for the humanities at GCC,” Barlow says. “It’s exciting for us to be noticed for the work that we’re doing and the work that we intend to do. It speaks to the incredible vibrancy of the humanities at GCC and the hard work of humanities faculty.”

Strengthening the Humanities in Rural Western Massachusetts includes four components. The college will further develop and broaden the humanities portion of their General Education requirements. They will highlight in these classes the soft skills that are valued by regional employers, such as critical thinking, communication, leadership, and digital literacy. They will improve existing and create new courses in medical humanities, including Spanish for health science, science writing, and medical ethics, increasing diversity in the humanities. Finally, they will upgrade existing low-tech humanities classrooms to active learning classrooms (ALCs), which make courses more interactive and engaging.

In support of the project, GCC will reach out to regional industry partners to ascertain which humanities skill sets are most needed in the labor market, and incorporate these into all humanities courses. This will include courses that fulfill general education degree requirements, to ensure that all students benefit, no matter their degree program.

“I think that the project is going to rejuvenate the humanities,” Barlow affirms. “It levels the playing field for us.”

GCC is one of 13 institutions in Massachusetts to receive a #SHARP grant. Others include Northeastern University, Framingham State University, the Boston Public Library, Historic Deerfield, the Springfield Library and Museums Association, and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this press release, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and Greenfield Community College together: Democracy demands wisdom.