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Enhancing the Midwest Knowledge Ecosystem (EMKE)

In a program called Enhancing the Midwest Knowledge Ecosystem (EMKE), the ACM has partnered with the Big Ten Academic Alliance, which is an academic consortium comprised of universities in the Big Ten Conference, and the University of Chicago to explore areas of common ground and the potential for collaboration between the two groups.

Supported by a $109,000 planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, faculty and campus leaders from institutions in the ACM and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) — the CIC became the Big Ten Academic Alliance in June 2016 — gathered at planning meetings in 2013-14 focused on two areas in the humanities and arts that seem promising for collaboration: Digital Humanities and Languages, particularly less commonly taught languages, language pedagogy, and opportunities for language sharing.

Discussions at the planning meetings led to a recommendation to provide support for collaborations by faculty from the liberal arts colleges of the ACM and the research universities of the CIC, giving priority to two areas:

  • Partnerships in the burgeoning field of the digital humanities; and
  • Creative ways to share languages across campuses, especially for languages where student interest and teaching resources are not matched, or lack critical mass, on individual campuses.

Faculty project funded in 2015

In spring 2015, the Mellon Foundation authorized the ACM and the CIC to use the modest funds remaining from the planning grant to pilot competitively-funded faculty initiatives for collaboration across the two consortia. The EMKE program issued a Call for Pre-Proposals inviting ideas from ACM and CIC faculty teams interested in designing and piloting ways for liberal arts colleges and research universities to collaborate in digital humanities or sharing languages, including, but not limited to, less commonly taught languages.

The selection committee awarded the remaining EMKE funds to Sharing the Bounty, a project for sharing languages.

Sharing the Bounty

Sharing the Bounty: Increasing Access to Language Learning through Language Sharing and Faculty Collaboration, was awarded $42,448 in funding from the EMKE program. The project aims to make Hindi language instruction available to students at colleges that do not offer it.

Macalester College professors James Laine and Arjun Guneratne will collaborate with professor Sungok Hong from the University of Minnesota to lead Sharing the Bounty. The project is aimed at developing resource materials for teaching Hindi, creating a textbook and online course, and then offer a pilot online course through the University of Minnesota in fall 2017 for students at Macalester. Over time, the group plans to offer the course to other ACM and Midwestern colleges and to foster language sharing in other less frequently taught South Asian languages.


For more information about the EMKE project, contact:

  • ACM Vice President and Director of Faculty Development and Grant Programs, Brian Williams (312.561.5922)

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