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Clarke Selected to Participate in Online Consortium

By Clarke News  |  April 25, 2016

Clarke University is pleased to announce that it is among a select group of 21 institutions across the nation chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in the new Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction. The Consortium is part of a multi-year project to improve teaching and learning in the humanities, explore new approaches to online education, and promote collaboration among smaller private liberal arts colleges.

A $1.38 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the work of four-person teams from each participating institution over three years. Two faculty members from each team will develop new upper-level courses in the humanities, pilot the courses in 2017, revise the courses, and offer them again in 2018 to students from all the participating colleges. Two administrators on each team — the chief academic officer and the registrar — will focus on institutional support for online learning, policies for sharing courses, and other aspects of institutional collaboration. The teams will come together for three national workshops, beginning in August 2016.

“Strategic alliances such as the Consortium are essential strategies for improving student learning, promoting more efficient use of institutional resources and building capacity for quality alternative instructional delivery at smaller, private universities,” said Clarke President Joanne Burrows, SC, Ph.D.

The Clarke team will consist of Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Burns, Registrar Kristi Bagstad, Professor of Philosophy Kent Anderson and Associate Professor of Art History Bryan Zygmont.

“Participation in this consortium helps expand our humanities offerings,” said Burns. “Individually, these schools are not able to offer a wide breadth of courses in the humanities. This collaboration helps increase access to courses for our students.”

“Online teaching and learning has tremendous potential to sustain the humanities at smaller liberal arts colleges,” CIC President Richard Ekman said. “By sharing courses that might be under-enrolled at a single institution, humanities programs can maximize the use of their instructional resources and offer their students a wider range of high-quality courses.”

The classes Clarke will offer are

The Consortium will also benefit faculty, Burns said.

“This is a development opportunity that Clarke University, alone, can’t offer,” she said. “Through grant support, the Council of Independent Colleges is offering faculty access to more resources to support the learning of best practices for quality online teaching.”

Anderson’s class will be taught both online and face-to-face, allowing for empirical testing of student learning in different formats.

New York-based Ithaka S+R, a leading research and consulting service for academic innovation in the digital environment, will advise participants and evaluate the entire project.

The first meeting of the Consortium will take place in Alexandria, Va., Aug. 7-9. Presenters will include prominent national experts in online learning. More information about the project and the participating institutions is available on the CIC website at

Participating with Clarke in the Consortium are:

Bloomfield College (N.J.) Carlow University (Pa.), Carroll College (Mont.), Carroll University (Wis.), Claflin University (S.C.), Concordia University (Texas), Gettysburg College (Pa.), Lasell College (Mass.), Mount Mary University (Wis.), Northwestern College (Iowa), Randolph-Macon College (Va.), Rosemont College (Pa.), Shenandoah University (Va.), Siena College (N.Y.), Simpson College (Iowa), St. Edwardʼs University (Texas), St. Olaf College (Minn.), Ursuline College (Ohio), Walsh University (Ohio) and Wesleyan College (Ga.).

The is an association of 765 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society.

Clarke University is a Catholic, liberal arts and sciences university dedicated to preparing students who positively impact their workplace, family and community. Academic offerings include more than 40 undergraduate liberal arts and pre-professional programs, a robust adult degree program and six graduate degree programs. Founded in 1843 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Clarke is located near the Mississippi River in the thriving city of Dubuque, Iowa. It is the only BVM university in the country.