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NEH Grant to Fund UW Program That Benefits State Teachers

March 7, 2022

A University of Wyoming project is among a small number of humanities projects nationwide selected for a Humanities Initiatives at Colleges and Universities program grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The project, “Integrating the Humanities Across Civics Education in Wyoming,” provides UW’s Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program with a two-year grant of $149,397 to expand its online catalog of civics education resources for Wyoming teachers and to build a new learning community across civics educators in the state.

The funds will significantly expand the existing social studies K-12 digital curriculum catalog and provide the impetus to create a new English language arts digital catalog, say the project’s co-directors.

Jean Garrison and Jason McConnell, of UW’s School of Politics, Public Affairs and International Studies, and Curtis Biggs and Colby Gull, from the UW College of Education’s Trustees Education Initiative, are co-directing the project.

The program will expand the digital resources focusing on three themes: culture and peoples of the West; identity, community and rural life; and rights, liberties and civic responsibilities. The project brings together a diverse set of humanities, social science and education partners to work with Wyoming teachers on issues of central importance to the nation’s democracy, public institutions and core issues of importance in America today, the organizers say.

In working with Wyoming teachers and students, the program will focus on the “three C’s of civic education,” Garrison says. Those are civic knowledge and skills to make sure Wyoming youth understand how democracy and government work; civic values and dispositions to encourage youth to be involved in their communities; and civic behaviors fostering civility in discussions and interactions.

As part of the grant, the Malcom Wallop Civic Engagement Program will host a virtual summer pedagogical workshop for social studies and English language arts teachers, and community college and UW faculty members this June.

“We are excited to host a second professional development teachers workshop in summer 2022, bringing together the Wallop team, K-12 social studies and English language arts teachers, and college educators from across the state to build a learning community and examine how the newly developed humanities content will serve as a resource for educators,” McConnell says.

The Wallop K-12 curriculum project currently provides a library of free virtual resources for K-12 social studies teachers for their classroom use. The catalog provides multimedia content that aligns with one or more of the six Wyoming social studies content standards in the areas of government and democracy; culture/cultural diversity; economics; history; geography; and technology/literacy/global connections.

The catalog includes more than 50 content topics, including Wyoming government; topics focused on Wyoming’s Indigenous tribes, including discussions of sovereignty, treaties, assimilation and allotment; and current topics such as Bitcoin and the U.S.-China relationship.

NEH support also will allow the expansion of the multimedia catalog into an array of humanities topics aligned with Wyoming’s English language arts content and performance standards for K-12.

Through fall 2021, 66 educators have accessed the social studies content, with 40 schools located in 18 counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation using the catalog to increase their online learning resources.

“As a former school superintendent in Wyoming, I see it as significant that this project is bringing together social studies and English language arts teachers to work together to build learning activities that span different content areas,” Gull says. “The inclusion of university and community college faculty expands the content and pedagogical expertise of all those involved, which really will improve the learning and engagement of students in K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions.”

For more information about the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program, visit the website at www.uwyo.edu/wallop.

The social studies catalog can be found on UW’s WyoLearn catalog site at https://uwyo3.catalog.instructure.com. Click on the course link titled “Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Project.”

The project is inspired by former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop who, in his distinguished career serving in the U.S. Senate for three terms and in the Wyoming Legislature, is remembered for his commitment to civil discourse, public education and public service.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals throughout the nation.

For more information about NEH and its grant programs, visit www.neh.gov.

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