UNCW receives $300,000 grant to expand curriculum, improve local historical markers

UNCW seeks to use the grant money to fund their Fragility, Resilience and Engaged Education in...
UNCW seeks to use the grant money to fund their Fragility, Resilience and Engaged Education in Democracy (FREED) Project and improve local historical markers.(WECT)
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 12:33 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The University of North Carolina Wilmington has received a $300,000 implementation grant from The Teagle Foundation, a statement from the school stated.

Per their website, The Teagle Foundation seeks to “support and strengthen liberal arts education” through serving “as a catalyst for the improvement of teaching and learning in the arts and sciences while addressing issues of financial sustainability and accountability in higher education.”

UNCW seeks to use the grant money to fund their Fragility, Resilience and Engaged Education in Democracy (FREED) Project, which will help students explore the meaning and fragility of democracy. Specifically, those at the university will learn what it means to participate in a democracy, how civic engagement aids participation, and how fragile participation may be under certain circumstances.

“UNCW strives to ensure that our students graduate with an informed understanding of our democracy, its history and its functions,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. James Winebrake. “This important project uses the history of our region to educate students not only about fundamental principles of democracy but also the fragility of that democracy.”

The program seeks to engage students at various educational levels. Per the release, beginning in 2023, the academic plan is as follows:

  • First-year students will be introduced to the project’s academic goals during their first-year seminar.
  • Second-year students will continue their understanding through the common reading assignment. Additionally, these students will also participate in guided Wilmington History and Democracy tours, developed by community partners.
  • Upper-level courses will begin to be offered in 2024. These classes will allow students to build upon their previous understanding of democracy and local history by studying the 1898 coup d’état and massacre in depth.

In addition to the new curriculum, the university seeks to work with community and city representatives to augment existing historical markers and place new markers at some of the city’s most historically significant places. Per the announcement, part of the goal is to include QR codes at these markers that will link participants to web pages or apps that will provide additional educational materials.

“We believe strongly in applied learning at UNCW,” Dr. Winebrake added. “We also believe that it is important for students to engage with their community as part of their learning experience. We know those learning experiences are reinforced and more thoroughly understood and remembered when connected to physical place. Using the history and geography of Wilmington as an opportunity to educate students about democratic principles will make these principles real to students in ways that cannot be achieved through a textbook.”