MELLON FOUNDATION AWARDS WELLESLEY COLLEGE GRANT TO ADVANCE THREE-COLLEGE COLLABORATION

Following the partnership’s successful launch, the gift provides pilot funding for Babson-Olin-Wellesley’s first inter-campus Certificate Program in Sustainability and Mellon Presidential Innovation Project Fund.

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its longstanding support of Wellesley College with a $55,000 grant to advance the Three-College Collaboration among Wellesley, Babson College, and the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. The cross-institutional grant follows on the heels of a Mellon Foundation award given last spring to support foreign languages, literature, and culture at Wellesley.

“We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation’s multifaceted support which enables Wellesley and our partner institutions to build on the work we have begun,” said H. Kim Bottomly, president of Wellesley College. “Through new programming, the Three-College Collaboration provides students with a unique and powerful interdisciplinary approach to learning that is essential for the 21st Century.”  

The grant supports the launch of the Collaboration’s first major joint curricular effort: a new academic program offering courses related to human impact on the environment across the liberal arts and sciences, business, and engineering. Offered on all three campuses, the courses provide an opportunity for students to earn credit toward a certificate in sustainability—a field of growing importance that requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to solving complex, global problems.
The grant also provides pilot funding for the Mellon Presidential Innovation Project Fund, established by the presidents of the three colleges: Babson President Leonard H. Schlesinger, Olin President Richard K. Miller, and Wellesley President H. Kim Bottomly. Starting this September, students, faculty, and staff are invited to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for cross-campus innovation projects.
Community-building presentations, workshops, and events will receive support from the Mellon gift. One such program is "From Orchids to Octopi: an Evolutionary Love Story," an original play about Darwin written by Melinda Lopez. On September 19, the three-college community can attend a reading of the play, followed by dinner and discussion about how the arts, sciences, society, and technology connect.
Babson-Olin-Wellesley launch new sustainability program
Now beginning its third year, the Three-College Collaboration launches the new sustainability program this fall with the goal of educating students to use the skills, tools, and concepts from the liberal arts, business, and engineering to address environmental challenges and evaluate paths toward sustainability—both at an individual and societal level. The program offers new courses in sustainability, as well as the ability to take existing courses at the three colleges for credit toward the sustainability certificate.
The inter-campus aspect of the Babson-Olin-Wellesley sustainability program sets it apart from most other college sustainability programs—and is key to its effectiveness. No other sustainability program offers the benefit of cross-taught courses, joining together faculty and students that bring different, complementary strengths. Educating students to solve the complex, global problems of sustainability requires a holistic approach involving multiple disciplines for which the three colleges are renowned. All students will have the opportunity to work in multi-disciplinary teams whose members bring diverse skills, experiences, and viewpoints. Together, they will examine the human effects on the natural world across social, cultural, historical, and ethical contexts.
The new sustainability courses are team-taught by faculty members from each college and will integrate the methods and content of the liberal arts and sciences with business and engineering. In the “Introduction to Sustainability” course, students work in teams to evaluate the sustainability of a city block near Wellesley Center, studying different factors such as transportation, water use, and building materials. Students will share results and present recommendations; Wellesley town officials will be invited to hear the final presentations. A capstone course, “Sustainability Synthesis,” currently in development, will challenge students to develop solutions for a specific environmental problem, working in small teams that join students from the three institutions. Other courses that may be counted toward the sustainability certificate include: “Environmental and Sustainable Entrepreneurship,” a business course offered on Babson’s campus; “Environmental Justice, Race, and Sustainable Development,” taught by Wellesley’s Africana Studies department; and “Metals and Alloys: From Microstructure to Global Impact,” an engineering course at Olin.
The Three-College Presidents establish new fund for innovation across campuses
With pilot support from the Mellon Foundation, Presidents Bottomly, Schlesinger, and Miller have established the Mellon Presidential Innovation Project Fund, available to members of the Three-College community for projects that will enhance the collaboration and broaden opportunities for all members of the community. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to submit project proposals by November 1, 2011 via the collaboration’s website: bow3colleges.org. Proposals require participation from at least two of the colleges. New areas of collaboration that have been suggested include the arts, teaching and research in mathematics, and health policy, but proposals from all academic and administrative areas are welcome. Committees including members from all three colleges will review proposals and award grants based on project merit. Most awards will total between $500 and $2,000, but in exceptional cases, awards of up to $10,000 will be considered. Awards will be announced in late November.
About the Babson-Olin-Wellesley Collaboration
Presidents Bottomly, Miller, and Schlesinger launched the Three-College Collaboration in 2009 with the goals of expanding educational opportunities for students, facilitating faculty research, and sharing strengths across the campuses. The first director of the program, Adele Wolfson (also Schow Professor of Chemistry at Wellesley), was appointed in 2010, creating a supportive infrastructure for the program. Even this early in existence, the Babson-Olin-Wellesley collaboration serves as a model for integrating the liberal arts and sciences with business and engineering. The Babson-Olin-Wellesley partnership stands apart from most college consortia by taking advantage of the schools’ complementary curricula to create innovative approaches to student learning and problem solving and to provide all students with the tools to work across disciplines.
PRESS CONTACT: 
Sofiya Cabalquinto, Wellesley College, 781-283-3321, scabalqu@wellesley.edu

By Nancy Sullivan, sullivann@babson.edu, 781-239-4623 | 09/21/2011 04:00