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Bushouse to Co-Direct New Five College Project to Develop Undergraduate-Graduate Curricular Connections

Associate Professor Brenda Bushouse (political science and public policy) will co-direct a new Five College project that will help bridge liberal arts and professional education across the five campuses. The Five College Public Policy Initiative has received $194,667 from Five Colleges, Inc., for the project, which will develop curricular connections between the schools’ undergraduate and graduate programs.

Bushouse will co-direct the project with Molly Mead, director of the Center for Community Engagement and contributing faculty in American Studies at Amherst College. Other partners include faculty members at the Isenberg School of Management and the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA) at UMass, and the Smith College School for Social Work. In addition, one representative from each of the liberal arts campuses will participate in the collaborative project, which will create innovative course modules and pedagogies to help bridge undergraduate and professional training for the next generation of social change leaders.

Social entrepreneurship — using business models or managerial principles to organize ventures with a social mission — will be a theme that will help focus the project’s various activities.

“A good number of Five College undergraduates and graduate students go on to lead, or even found, social change organizations or enterprises,” said Bushouse. “Our goal is to strengthen their preparation for that work through curricular development that marries strong liberal arts foundations with support for creating and implementing sound management, governance, and fiscal policies and strategies.”

According to Mead, “Students often arrive on our campuses eager to change the world — and many more develop that desire through coursework that improves their understanding of power, social inequality and the ethics of justice. By working across disciplines and across the undergraduate-graduate divide, we hope to strengthen students’ preparation for producing effective, lasting social change.”

In addition to faculty development workshops and support for curricular development, the two-year grant provides funds for visits by outside experts on social entrepreneurship and bridging liberal arts and professional education; a social enterprise “pitch” competition; various forms of collaboration among graduate and undergraduate students and student groups; and a January term course on social entrepreneurship.

The grant award follows closely the minting of an accelerated Master of Public Policy (MPP) program designed for Five College juniors and seniors and administered by CPPA. According to M.V. Lee Badgett, professor of economics and CPPA director, “This grant will also support collaborations that strengthen the MPP program in its infancy, making cooperation among all five institutions — and a genuine bridge between graduate and undergraduate education — possible.”

The award was funded by a grant to Five Colleges from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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