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Home / News and Information / News - 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

Taylor Hereford
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 is involved.”

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 to economists.

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.


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The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.
Brewton-Parker College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Brewton-Parker College.
Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM