Call for Chapters: Innovative Program Design for the 21st Century Undergraduate Education

William Moner's picture
Call for Publications
September 5, 2017
North Carolina, United States
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities, Educational Technology, Humanities, Area Studies


Redesigning the Liberal Arts: Innovative Program Design for 21st Century Undergraduate Education (Edited Collection)

Google Doc:



Rebecca Pope-Ruark, Elon University,

Phillip Motley, Elon University,

William Moner, Elon University,


Whether through a core curriculum at a research-intensive institution or an interdisciplinary program at a liberal arts college, the historical goal of a liberal education has been to create well-rounded, engaged citizens capable of championing a free democratic society and of being agile, flexible, and collaborative in a complicated world. Yet in a time of rapid innovation and political/economic uncertainty, demand surges for training in potentially lucrative fields like finance and engineering, while parents, elected officials, financial institutions, and taxpayers call for greater accountability for increasingly expensive higher education costs, all of which lead to actions that can dramatically impact the liberal arts.


Although professional schools are seeing a dramatic increase in enrollment, executives and professional leaders are coming out in vocal support of a liberal education. Steve Jobs famously argued that technology needs artistry and that a liberal arts background is essential to innovation. Past and present leaders at Apple, YouTube, Chipotle, Slack, Avon, and Disney, just to name a few, are liberal arts graduates. Wired, Forbes, FastCompany, The Atlantic, and Time have all written about the value of a liberal arts education recently, and in The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World, venture capitalist Scott Hartley (2017) argues that it’s the liberal arts graduates who are developing the most creative innovations in the tech world because the “fuzzies” understand people, question norms, and raise ethical questions that “techies” may not – in essence, they have the “21st century” habits of mind core to a liberal education such as empathy, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, resilience, self-efficacy, collaboration, written and oral communication, and ingenuity.


While many recent texts defend the value of a liberal education, this proposed edited collection will take the next step and address how institutions are rising to this challenge and developing liberal arts programs that prepare students for the relentless pace of change and innovation in the 21st century. Expanding on the AAC&U’s 2012 report, A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future, this collection will explore best practices in revitalizing the liberal arts in higher education by showcasing how forward-thinking colleges and universities of all sizes and types are “redesigning” with an eye to 21st century skills. Our collection will highlight institutions of all types and sizes pursuing creative (co)curricular innovations to design learning experiences that support students’ personal and professional development in liberal arts mindsets and skills. The collection will explore questions such as

  • What is the value of a 21st century liberal education for students and for society?

  • How do or can liberal arts programs help students develop the 21st century skills necessary for success as a professional and a citizen?

  • Which programs are already responding to these challenges, taking advantage of the kinds of pedagogical innovations that “are only possible now?”

  • How are innovative liberal arts programs preparing the future ethicists, ethnographers, and humanists who will work with the “techies” to address climate change, war, food insecurity, healthcare, and our increasing dependence on digital technologies?

  • How are these programs articulating that study in the liberal arts helps students develop the 21st century competencies and human-centered skills vital to innovators and changemakers?

  • What does the future of a liberal education look like?


This collection will be of interest to faculty concerned about the state of the liberal arts education, leaders in centers for teaching and learning who support faculty proposing curriculum innovations, and faculty leaders and administrators interested in examples of innovative programs that might be adapted in their own contexts.


At this time, we have enthusiastic interest from one major academic press and from one professional higher education-focused press to move forward with building a preliminary table of contents. The collection will be organized in three sections: (1) framing chapters about the state of liberal education and opportunities for 21st century innovation, (2) program case examples written by leaders of current innovation projects at universities of all types and sizes in the United States and abroad, and (3) invited “visions of the future” essays from leaders in higher education.


Invitation for Program Case Example Chapters

We invite proposals for case example chapters about innovation in liberal education, such as

  • general education/core curricula

  • majors and minors

  • social innovation and design thinking programs

  • community engagement experiments

  • co-curricular, multidisciplinary, and/or interdisciplinary experiences,

  • Innovative and unique implementations of high impact practices

We encourage chapters coauthored by stakeholders across the institution, including student voices, and international submissions are welcome.


In a 300-500 word abstract, please introduce your proposed chapter by providing a title, the names and titles of the (co)authors, your institutional context, motivation for innovation in the liberal arts, and the innovation itself. Ultimately, full chapters of 10-15 pages will include an overview of your institutional context and the challenge you faced related to liberal education and 21st century skills, your motivation and method for addressing that challenge or opportunity, the innovation itself and why the approach was unique in revitalizing liberal education at your institution, and a set of transferable “lessons learned” you expect our readers to take away from your chapter.


Preliminary Timeline

Abstracts due to Rebecca Pope-Ruark ( by September 5.

Notification of intent to include abstract in sample TOC for publisher review by September 18.

Manuscript production timeline will be announced when available.

Contact Info: 

Rebecca Pope-Ruark

Contact Email: