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Associate professor earns grant to study, develop course on purpose of college education

Photo of Carrie Anne PlatteCarrie Anne Platt, associate professor of communication at NDSU, has earned a $21,987 National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions grant to research changing views on the purpose of a college education. Her research will result in a new undergraduate course designed to help current students maximize the value of their own educations. 

“I was thrilled and honored to receive this grant, and happy the NEH sees this question as worthy of further study,” Platt said. “I believe it is important for students to be able to articulate why they went to college and what it means to them to be an educated person, whether they are talking to a peer, a parent or a potential employer.” 

The research will focus on how our understanding of the “educated person” has changed over time, the history of the liberal arts and vocational training in higher education, and how the tension between the two has shaped debates over college curricula. 

Platt’s interest in the subject came in part from her experience as an undergraduate adviser. She said undergraduates are sometimes unsure how to select their general education courses, how the courses might be connected to their major, or why they are required to take general education courses at all.

This project will allow Platt to integrate her research, teaching and advising by helping students find answers to these questions.

Students also will share their knowledge with incoming NDSU students via short videos on what it means to be an educated person today, and offer tips for selecting coursework that combines both intellectual and professional development.

“Previous Enduring Questions courses at other institutions have set the bar high,” Platt said. “But I plan to work hard to create an interesting and valuable course experience for NDSU students.”

The research and course are supported by The National Endowment for the Humanities under grant number FAR0023689. 

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