Through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation the Great Lakes Colleges Association launched the New Directions Initiative in 2009. The focus of this four year program was to support the renewal and continued professional growth of liberal arts faculty members in 'mid-career' - the extensive professional period between receiving tenure and thinking seriously about retirement. This program has concluded.
A particular emphasis of the program was to help faculty members think outside traditional boundaries and divisions of their discipline and of typical faculty work - to chart a course that leads beyond the familiar waters of one's early academic achievements and embarks on the extended journey of a stimulating faculty career. Successful proposals made the case that the project provided the potential for changes in understanding, insight, and modes of thinking that would result in professional development with an evident link to professional renewal and liberal learning. This emphasis was expressed through three broad themes.
Broadening intellectual perspectives, helping mid-career faculty to expand their horizons and understand issues beyond the context of their own disciplines;
Stimulating innovation in pedagogy, providing opportunities for faculty to sharpen pedagogy, based on expanding knowledge and best practices for teaching both within and beyond particular fields of study;
Considering career options, which accord individual faculty members the time required to explore a new career direction.
Abstracts of funded proposals can be found by going to the GLCA Awards Database.