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Gateway Courses: Cultivating Pathways in the Humanities

What is a gateway course?

One of the goals of the Humanities in Action grant is to help departments and faculty attract students to humanistic study through the development of new gateway courses. Gateway courses are meant to offer students an accessible, engaging welcome to a particular field or discipline. Ideally, they also demonstrate to students the many pathways to the humanities and humanistic studies that can emerge out of courses in particular fields or disciplines. Helping students appreciate the interconnections across the humanities and humanistic social studies can benefit students and academic programs alike—a successful gateway course prepares the ground for ongoing student connections to humanistic study across the curriculum.

Gateway classes courses can include traditional intro classes and other courses likely to attract students to a field of study as well as interdisciplinary offerings in the humanities and/or social studies curricular designations. Gateway courses will typically be at the 100-level but can include 200-level classes as well as long as they are open to first-year students and introduce students to a field of study or to humanistic inquiry more broadly without making assumptions about what students already know.

How can the grant support your work?

The grant can support gateway course development in different ways. It can provide course development stipends to support the creation of a new gateway course for a department, concentration, or field, as well as the creation of an alternative gateway (in fields where this is appropriate) or the revision or redesign of an existing course. The grant can also offer funding for pedagogy partnerships in the development of gateway courses, drawing on students’ expertise of, well, being students, to help create accessible classes to meet students where they are—and build in room for challenge, growth, and development.

Humanities in Action

Whatever the form it takes, we hope to support the creation of gateway courses that demonstrate humanistic practice, ideally by making explicit the connection between that practice and modes of living, working, and creating change in the world. There are many different ways of working toward this goal. It could be through creating lab-like, hands-on learning experiences, such as those at Colby College or right here in Grinnell through opportunities like the Global Kitchen; the creation of courses that draw on the humanities to explicitly consider aspects of the way we live as individuals, together, or with technology; or through the incorporation of scaffolded final projects that ask students to apply what they have learned in your course to craft a plan addressing something they see in the world around them. There are so many ways to help students engage in humanistic practice. Many of them don’t require that we change the content of our courses, but what we ultimately ask students to do with what we share together.

Whether you want to start small or think big, we want to support your work.

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