Ohio Wesleyan Receives $600,000 Mellon Foundation Grant

Funding Supports Continued Development of University’s ‘OWU Connection’ Curricular Plan
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Ohio Wesleyan has received a $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support continued development of the new “Course Connections” networks. (Photo by John Holliger)

DELAWARE, OHIO – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Ohio Wesleyan University a three-year, $600,000 grant to support continued development of the “OWU Connection” curricular plan, including an expansion of the plan’s innovative “Course Connections” networks.

The grant follows Ohio Wesleyan’s receipt of a two-year $100,000 Mellon Foundation grant in 2010 to support pilot projects by university faculty to create a model liberal arts curriculum for the 21st century.

Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., said the faculty’s efforts are transforming the already powerful learning opportunities provided at the university.

“The work by Ohio Wesleyan’s faculty to envision and create the OWU Connection and its Course Connections networks represents one of the most significant curricular efforts in the university’s 170-year history,” Jones said. “Both students and faculty quickly embraced the changes and already are benefitting in measurable and immeasurable ways.”

The networks of courses, implemented in 2011, allow students to explore topics of interest from several academic disciplines to expand their understanding and appreciation of their complex and interrelated issues.

Examples of current Course Connections include the “American Landscape,” which examines the changing U.S. landscape as both a physical entity and imaginative construct, and “Modern Life and Its Discontents,” which explores modernity from social scientific, literary, philosophical, artistic, and natural scientific perspectives.

Jones said that although the Course Connections are less than a year old, they already involve nearly 50 faculty members, 120 students, and 101 courses.

Using the Mellon Foundation grant, Ohio Wesleyan will seek to expand its Course Connections networks by two to three offerings during each of the next four years. The long-term goal is to have 12 to 16 networks available at any given time. Some of the networks will include off-campus or travel-learning experiences to make even stronger the connection between academic theory and real-world practice.

Equally exciting, Jones said, is the creation of an innovative teaching environment for Ohio Wesleyan’s professors.

“Participating faculty members say the networks allow colleagues from different disciplines to interact and discuss teaching strategies,” he said. “The networks create a community of faculty who continually discuss what approaches are beneficial for helping students learn. Even if a learning strategy or classroom technology isn’t immediately applicable, the faculty say they have gained a greater appreciation for and understanding of teaching approaches that may be useful in other settings.”

In addition to the Course Connections network, Ohio Wesleyan’s new OWU Connection curricular initiative also includes:

  • The “OWU Experience,” a new first-year course to help incoming students take ownership of their educations and get the most out of their time at Ohio Wesleyan.
  • Travel-Learning courses to provide students with more off-campus and international experiences tied to classroom instruction. During the current academic year, Ohio Wesleyan is offering 16 Travel-Learning courses with opportunities to study in Turkey, Greece, Italy, England, and more.
  • Student Individualized Projects (SIPs), independent research and creative projects carried out by Ohio Wesleyan students with faculty guidance.

Learn more about admission to Ohio Wesleyan.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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