St. Paul, Minn. — Macalester College German Studies professor Brigetta (Britt) Abel has received a Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to create of a digital open-educational resource for German language and culture. The NEH recently announced $39.3 million in grants for 245 humanities projects across the country. Abel is also Director of Writing for the Jan Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching.

This round of funding, NEH’s third and last for fiscal year 2017, will support vital research, education, and public programs in the humanities.

For her project, Abel and collaborator, Central College German professor Amy Young, will produce an alternative to traditional textbooks by developing an interactive and immersive environment for language and culture that makes use of videos and interviews with native and near-native German speakers. Ron Joslin, Macalester Research Librarian, DeWitt Wallace Library, will serve as the project’s Open Access and Technology Consultant.

“This grant will allow us to convene a Collaborative Working Group of German faculty and scholars to complete the Grenzenlos Deutsch (German without Borders) curriculum, which the two of us have been working on for the past year and a half,” said Abel.

“This open educational resource will be a free, online alternative to the traditional college textbook for German language and culture, and it will incorporate interactive activities and media directly into the curriculum. Because this resource will be available to students and instructors at no cost, it was crucial that we receive funding to support the completion of the project.”

The project has four major goals.

“First, it explores new technological tools that make it possible to develop an interactive, student-centered learning environment,” said Abel. “But an equally important goal is to employ more diverse voices and real-world contemporary perspectives in our curriculum. For that reason, we’ll include content areas on social and environmental sustainability, non-traditional families, and diverse expressions of ‘culture.'”

“We will also expand the bank of language-learner appropriate content that is publicly available by generating video and photo material and making it available online,” Abel continued. “Finally, we hope to address additional curricular challenges that we see in language instruction today, including the skyrocketing cost of language textbooks and the lack of interactivity with traditional print texts.”

The grant falls under the NEH category of “Digital Humanities Advancement.”

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

September 13 2017

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