September 23, 2020

Purdue program provides nationwide model for liberal arts in higher ed

NEH, Teagle Foundation announce new initiative for general education 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University program provides the basis for a new initiative aimed at reinvigorating the liberal arts on college campuses across the country. The Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are partnering to sponsor Cornerstone: Learning for Living, a program model based upon the innovative Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts certificate developed by the College of Liberal Arts. The NEH and the Teagle Foundation have committed a minimum of $7 million to the initiative.

Cornerstone: Learning for Living is designed to provide all students with the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the world and themselves, while strengthening the skills to read closely, write clearly, speak with confidence, and to engage with differing viewpoints and perspectives through general education courses. The initiative emphasizes gateway courses aimed at incoming students and is anchored in transformative texts — the greatest that has been thought, said and written across human history.

“Purdue is honored that the NEH and Teagle are investing in replicating the Cornerstone model for delivering general education,” said David A. Reingold, the Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts at Purdue. “Through Cornerstone, we have revived interest and relevance of the liberal arts as a foundational component of a college education that prepares graduates for engaged citizenship. I am grateful for the work of program director Dr. Melinda Zook and the numerous faculty from our college who have built Cornerstone. I also want to thank our campus partners who have been very generous in adopting this new model as an option for delivering the oral and written communication components of Purdue’s core curriculum.”

david-reingold David Reingold

The Cornerstone Integrated Liberal Arts program launched as a pilot program in Fall 2017 with about 100 students. Its introductory Transformative Texts sequence is offering 76 sections to more than 2,000 students from majors across Purdue’s campus in Fall 2020. More than 500 students are now pursuing the Cornerstone certificate.

The new Cornerstone: Learning for Living initiative aims to give students the opportunity to experience the power of the humanities under the mentorship of committed teachers, provide a coherent pathway through general education that helps students connect the humanities to their professional aspirations and increase teaching opportunities for humanities faculty.

“Encouraging students to ask questions about meaning and purpose in life, and about how to organize a just society — and to do so with the help of searching works and caring teachers — is essential for a rewarding college experience and ultimately for the health of American civic life,” said Andrew Delbanco, president of the Teagle Foundation. “Yet the humanities, which pose such questions, are languishing on many campuses. Our partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities to co-sponsor the Cornerstone: Learning for Living grant program aims to foster deep discussions in and beyond the classroom about formative ideas in our multicultural world, and thereby to help students grow into reflective adulthood.”

melinda-zook Melinda Zook


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Media contact: Lori Sparger, 765-494-9314,

Sources: David Reingold, 765-494-3661,

Melinda Zook, 765-494-4134,

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