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Enduring Questions about Asceticism

April 24, 2015

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The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the College a curriculum development grant for Dr. Jessica Starling’s proposed course, “Asceticism.” This new introductory-level religious studies course will offer students an opportunity to investigate a central theme in American culture–self-discipline–from an historical and cross-cultural perspective. Drawing from multiple disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, undergraduates will examine private and public meanings of ascetic acts, including the liberation of the spirit from the flesh, attaining a mystical union with the divine, or the transformation of society. Dr. Starling will begin developing the course this summer and it will likely be first offered in 2016-17. The NEH’s Enduring Questions program supports faculty members in the preparation of a new course on a fundamental concern of human life as addressed by the humanities. Over the past five years this grant program has only supported an average of 19 projects across the nation each year, with a funding rate of approximately 10%. 

April 2015

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