Plymouth State University Professor Receives $30,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Grant will help PSU transform its art history program to engage students across all disciplines 

Exemplifying Plymouth State University’s drive to collaborate across disciplines to provide students with a well-rounded education, Sarah Parrish, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art History, has received a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support her efforts to reshape the University’s art history program. The Humanities Connections Planning Grant will allow Parrish to work with faculty across multiple disciplines, including business and environmental science, to design art history courses around specific themes instead of geographic region or historical periods.

“Sarah’s work will bring together students with a variety of experiences and backgrounds and will enrich their educational experiences through exposure to art,” said Donald L. Birx, Ph.D., President, Plymouth State University. “This is an ambitious redesign that stands to transform the art program by exposing students to art in a way that is relevant to their specific areas of study. This approach will help students understand the visual images and connections to multiple viewpoints they see every day.”

The Humanities Connections program works to expand the role of the humanities in undergraduate education. Grants support innovative curricular approaches that foster productive partnerships with the humanities and other disciplines to encourage and develop new, integrated learning opportunities for students. The grant’s mission mirrors PSU’s Integrated Clusters education model, emphasizing coursework that revolves around meaningful issues to help students develop communications and problem-solving skills while integrating a range of perspectives.

“Some students may not grasp how traditional art history classes connect to their lives, which inspired me to make these classes more relevant for all students,” said Parrish. “The thematic courses will help students learn to understand the visual world, allowing them to bring those critical thinking skills and new perspectives to their own disciplines and careers. I am very excited to teach students who have different interests and expertise, to listen to their conversations, and to see the differences in their approaches to problems and the solutions they develop.”

Over the summer 2020, Parrish will collaborate with faculty from various disciplines to develop three thematic courses. The first course, which will be offered in spring 2021, “Art, Money and Power,” will focus on the business of art through the ages. Parrish will partner with Ron Porter, MBA, teaching faculty in the business administration program, to design and then teach the first iteration of the class. During the semester, Parrish and Porter will help each other develop expertise on their respective subjects. Parrish will then teach future “Art, Money and Power” courses, bringing her unique knowledge, perspective and business acumen to the classroom.

Parrish hopes to secure implementation funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2021 to help PSU move forward with teaching all three new classes. Parrish plans for these additional classes to be offered to students beginning in fall 2021.