Bard College Awarded $300,000 by the Booth Ferris Foundation to Support the Center for Ethics and WritingANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY — Bard College is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant by the Booth Ferris Foundation to support the establishment of the Center for Ethics and Writing. The center, directed by Dinaw Mengestu, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of the Humanities and director of the written arts program, reimagines the study of literature and writing as both an academic and social practice, one that asks students to translate the skills they develop in the classroom as critical readers and writers to some of the most pressing and divisive social issues of the moment. Center-supported courses and events prioritize the complexity of public discourse and the important role language plays in shaping it. The center aims to address the deterioration of civic dialogue, which has been under increasing threat in recent years from a growing intolerance of opposing viewpoints and widening gaps in experiences along racial, ethnic, and economic lines.
"The Booth Ferris Foundation’s incredibly generous support allows us to play a critical role in developing and modeling a creative and critical practice that engages with some of the most pressing issues of the moment,” said Mengestu. “With this grant, the center is able to extend Bard’s history of innovative teaching into classrooms across New York while also supporting artists whose freedom of expression is under threat."
The Center for Ethics and Writing engages in many activities, including developing an interdisciplinary approach to teaching ethics and writing that empowers students to develop narratives that reflect the experiences and concerns of their communities; partnering with local and national nonprofit organizations, including PEN America, to provide students opportunities to produce publishable narratives on social justice topics; promoting the values of free expression through a fellows program that brings in international, at-risk writers and artists; offering multi-day micro-workshops with artists and activists on topics related to current course offerings; providing training for community college faculty; and developing digital platforms including an online journal and podcast series.
In its first year, the center will provide an impressive array of programs. It has offered courses such as Writing While Black, Writing as Resistance, and Risk and the Art of Poetry and has hosted four micro-workshops by writer and activist Yasmin El-Rifae; Dana Bishop-Root, the director of education and public programs at the Carnegie Museum of Art; Fahima Ife, poet and associate professor of ethnic and critical race studies at UC Santa Cruz; and Emily Raboteau, writer, critic, and Professor at CUNY. In partnership with PEN America’s Artist at Risk Connection, an inaugural cohort of international fellows will begin this fall. Participating fellows’ freedom of expression is under threat due to their creative practices. Their work will be published alongside writing produced through center-supported courses in the center’s online journal, to be launched later this fall. The center is also partnering with Bard Microcolleges in Harlem and Brooklyn, and the Bard Prison Initiative, to develop courses that empower students to express their cultural and gendered experiences.
The Booth Ferris Foundation was established in 1957 under the wills of Willis H. Booth and his wife, Chancie Ferris Booth. The Foundation funds a variety of nonprofit organizations in the areas of arts and culture, K-12 and higher education, and parks and outdoor spaces.
About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year, residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 parklike acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in more than 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 13 programs; eight early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 163-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
Bard Press Contact:Ania Bartkowiak
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