Whitman College has received a $345,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the school’s new Global Studies Initiative.

The initiative and ensuing Mellon award mark the beginning of a long-term plan to expand the scope of Whitman’s liberal arts curriculum. The grant will allow the college to lay the academic groundwork for the GSI, broadening courses in the humanities, sciences and social sciences to advance a global learning experience.

“We are proud that the initiative and creativity of our faculty have been recognized by the Mellon Foundation, and we are grateful for the award,” said Lori Bettison-Varga, provost and dean of the faculty. “I am excited about the faculty development opportunities that will be supported by the grant.”

Over the next three years the Mellon award will fund the following activities:   

  • Seminars for faculty development. For faculty to explore global themes and theories across disciplines in order to develop interdisciplinary ideas and course work.
  • Workshops to enhance curriculum. To assist a wider group of faculty in incorporating global themes into their teaching and curriculum.
  • Interdisciplinary courses on global issues. New curriculum that crosses disciplines.
  • Symposium. Annual campus-wide symposium on global studies.
  • Global Studies director. Part-time director to oversee all aspects of the GSI.

“The long-term objective of this initiative is to create an intellectual environment at Whitman that fosters critical thinking on global issues,” said Shampa Biswas, associate professor of politics and newly appointed director of global studies at Whitman. “We hope that a liberal arts education from Whitman College will prepare our students to live ethically and responsibly in an increasingly interconnected world.”

The genesis of the GSI dates back to November 2005, when a Global Studies Working Group comprising several faculty invited Ahmed Samatar, dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College, to Whitman to lead a global studies development workshop. The group then turned its attention to international and global studies programs at liberal arts schools such as Pitzer, Colgate and Dickinson.

In the spring of 2006, the Whitman group drew up a draft document that soon became the GSI.

Whitman has enjoyed a long relationship with the Mellon Foundation, a staunch supporter of liberal arts education. The college has received well over $1 million in gifts from the foundation in areas ranging from foreign languages to information technology.

In 2001 Mellon gave Whitman $300,000 to expand its environmental studies program. Recent Mellon grants have supported curricular assessment and the school's new Fouts Center for the Visual Arts, which will open in September.


Keith Raether
Office of Communications
Whitman College