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Graduate School to launch ‘Open Graduate Programs’ with $2M Mellon grant

Article / Review by on October 5, 2011 – 10:09 pmNo Comments

Graduate School to launch ‘Open Graduate Programs’ with $2M Mellon grant

Open Graduate Programs. Brown doctoral students will be able to apply to the program, proposing how to integrate a secondary field in their studies Credit: Brown University

Open Graduate Programs. Brown doctoral students will be able to apply to the program, proposing how to integrate a secondary field in their studies Credit: Brown University

A $2-million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help the Graduate School support a six-year pilot program allowing doctoral students to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field while they earn their doctorates.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A $2-million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enable the Brown University Graduate School to launch “Open Graduate Programs: Graduate Education – Uniquely Brown,” a pilot program allowing doctoral students to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field while they earn their doctorates.

Over six years, Open Graduate Programs will give 24 doctoral students from any humanities or humanistic social science department the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in a different discipline at Brown, including physical and life sciences and engineering. Additionally, doctoral students from any discipline can pursue a master’s degree in a humanities or humanistic social science field. Brown graduate students currently have five years of full financial support and health insurance; the Mellon grant will provide an additional year of support. Students will have to apply to participate. The first cohort will begin in the 2012-13 academic year.

The program is part of a larger pilot initiative to allow a total of 48 doctoral students from any discipline at Brown to pursue a master’s degree in any other discipline offered by the University. Peter Weber, professor of chemistry and dean of the Graduate School, says that Open Graduate Programs will broaden Brown graduate students’ education, catalyze new interdisciplinary pursuits, and prepare students for the demands of the current job market. Graduate students already enjoy the latitude to pursue interdisciplinary scholarship, but this program expands and formalizes the opportunity. The program also more closely aligns the Graduate School with the spirit of Brown’s open undergraduate curriculum, a cornerstone of the University’s pedagogy.

“We envision an institutional transformation where a large number of students engage in multidisciplinary intellectual discourse, imparting Brown’s uniquely open education onto our graduate students,” said Weber. “We hope this new approach will establish a distinctive identity for Brown at the graduate level and attract exceptionally able and innovative students who seek an alternative to the more bounded forms of doctoral training.”

The Graduate School

In the last decade, the number of applications to Brown’s advanced-degree programs has more than doubled to over 9,000 in 2010-11. Under Brown’s Plan for Academic Enrichment, launched in 2002, the Graduate School has expanded its faculty, student body, and program offerings, adding more than 12 new degree programs through internal initiatives and partnerships with external institutions and organizations. The Graduate School now offers more than 70 degree programs to Brown’s nearly 2,000 full-time master’s and Ph.D. students.

The Mellon award comes as Brown is reaffirming its commitment to the humanities with the Brown Humanities Initiative, announced in October 2010. In addition to creating positions for six renowned scholars of the humanities, the initiative will provide funding for collaborative programming, multidisciplinary graduate research, and new coursework. Among the new programs aimed at expanding teaching and research in humanistic fields is “Brown in the World/The World at Brown,” launched earlier this year by a $498,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation. Based at the Cogut Center for the Humanities, the program provides future scholars and professors of the humanities with international exposure and the opportunity to enhance their global perspectives and networks.


The Plan for Academic Enrichment

“Brown University is renowned for its distinctive student body – independent, energetic, mature, responsible, and self-directed – and for its educational culture that fosters and reinforces these qualities as essential elements of their education. This special quality of Brown achieves its fullest expression in the Open Curriculum for undergraduates. The Plan for Academic Enrichment is designed to augment this educational culture so that it plays out on an even broader scale; so that all our students – undergraduate, graduate, and medical – are offered the best education possible through opportunities to craft their own educational paths, with access to a wider array of venues and a broader scope of activities, with the most up-to-date means at their disposal, and guided by a nationally distinctive and well-supported faculty and staff.” 

The Plan for Academic Enrichment, Brown University, February 2004

Beginning in 2002 Brown embarked on an ambitious program of academic enrichment that was designed to build on its strengths and achieve new levels of excellence in research, education, and public leadership. Since then, the Plan for Academic Enrichment (PAE) has guided Brown’s efforts to provide excellent undergraduate, graduate and medical education and to position the University for continued success. Since 2002 we have made significant progress toward the goals outlined in the Plan, including increasing the size of the faculty; establishing need-blind admission for undergraduates and strengthening financial aid for all students; providing essential resources to advance scholarship, research and teaching; and investing in the campus infrastructure. The momentum and accomplishments achieved during this time have been due to the hard work of many faculty, students, staff, and alumni volunteers and the generous support of alumni, parents, and other friends of the University.

It is essential that the Plan evolve over time if it is to remain relevant in an ever-changing environment. That relevance demands continuous evaluation and adjustment of our goals, priorities and underlying assumptions in the face of the broader context in which higher education operates. Reflecting the need for ongoing evaluation, the University undertook an extensive review of the Plan in the spring of 2007, engaging faculty, students, staff and alumni in the process. The results of the review, called Phase II, reaffirmed the core goals of the plan and focused future emphasis on several areas: continued enhancement of undergraduate education, internationalizing the University, and further improvement of academic departments and programs. The Corporation endorsed these recommendations in February 2008, and they are now fully integrated into all elements of University planning.

These aspirations require significant investments. All those who care about Brown have an opportunity to contribute to these goals over the next several decades-and beyond.

Annually in the fall we publish a complete status report on the progress being made toward achieving the goals of the Plan, including both the Phase II initiatives and the original 2004 version of the Plan. Starting with the July 2009 report, the status reports will be published online on the PAE website.

More info at:  Brown’s Plan for Academic Enrichment 


*  The above story is adapted from materials provided by Brown University 
** More information at Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island, USA) 

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