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- June 2006 / Dr. Ruth Ellen Porter attends NEH Summer Institute
Dr. Ruth Ellen Porter attends NEH Summer Institute
BPC Professor hopes to incorporate local culture
into college curriculum
BPC Director of Marketing
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a grant to Dr.
Ruth Ellen Porter allowing her the opportunity to attend an NEH Summer Institute
this month in Ferrum, Virginia.
Dr. Porter, the Grace Lorentzson Hyatt Professor
of English and Languages at Brewton-Parker College, is one of only twenty-five
college professors from
across the country who have been selected to participate in “Regional
Study and the Liberal Arts – An Appalachian Exemplar,” a four week
Institute June 5-30.
“To be able to attend an NEH Institute is a very competitive process,” said
Dr. Porter. “I am honored to have been selected to participate.”
Dr. David Smith, president of Brewton-Parker College, commends Dr. Porter
on her selection to the Institute.
“Dr. Ruth Ellen Porter is a consummate scholar,” said Dr. Smith. “She
has been a leader in every way on campus since her arrival in South Georgia.
Dr. Porter's selection by the National Endowment for the Humanities is no surprise
to me. She will strengthen any area of research or scholarship in which she
The goal of the Institute is to give participants
the chance to learn how local history and culture – known as “regional studies” – can
be incorporated into a college’s overall curriculum. Ferrum College,
which is serving as host for the Institute, will be a working example to all
participants of how this can be done.
“In today’s world, it would be an advantage for colleges to use
more creative avenues to enhance its overall curriculum,” said Dr. Porter. “Too
often people don’t appreciate local culture. I believe the use of this
particular model is a very fine idea.”
While at the Institute, Dr. Porter and her fellow participants will work with
specialists from a wide variety of fields, ranging from politicians to writers
A typical week consists of four days of classes with every evening and one
day a week set aside to work on projects. During weekends, participants are
expected to tour different sites around the Appalachian Mountains as a way
of furthering their understanding of how the surrounding area plays a role
in the curriculum at Ferrum College.
All participants are required to work on and complete two projects while attending
the Institute. For one of her projects Dr. Porter would like to create a model
of how any college can adapt regional studies into its curriculum. The other
would be the promotion of regionalism into literature studies.
Dr. Porter is a strong believer in connecting
with a college’s local
community and feels that by incorporating regional studies into the overall
framework of a college’s curriculum will only serve to better the college
as a whole. When considering the history, ecology, economics, and literature
of South Georgia, Dr. Porter believes that incorporating these different aspects
into Brewton-Parker’s curriculum will serve to benefit not only the region
but both the student and professor as well.
The application and selection process for each Institute is lengthy and very
competitive, as the NEH aims to match people who are best suited for each one.
Dr. Porter began her formal application process in January of this year by
writing a proposal for the grant and submitting a formal letter of application
along with a grant application.
In addition to the submission of formal applications, each participant was
required to submit letters of support from various professional references.
Dr. Ron Melton, provost of BPC, submitted a letter of support to the NEH on
behalf of Dr. Porter.
In a portion of his letter to the NEH, Dr,
Melton explained he believed that Dr. Porter’s participation in the Institute would be invaluable as she “integrates
the experiences from the institute into her courses and encourages colleagues
to do the same.”
Dr. Porter was notified of her selection
this past April and immediately began work on meeting some of the Institute’s
prerequisites. One of the biggest was an extensive, mandatory reading list
that had to be completed before her
arrival to the Institute.