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July 22, 2022 - Northern Kentucky University has been awarded a Cornerstone: Learning for Living Planning Grant to fund Becoming a STAR at Northern Kentucky University and Beyond: A Pathway through the Foundation of Knowledge General Education Program. It is the first institution in the state of Kentucky to have been awarded this nationally competitive planning grant in support of general education. 

“It is really gratifying for Northern Kentucky University to be the first Kentucky institution to have secured nationally competitive planning grant funds from the Teagle Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities to support innovation in general education,” Tonya Krouse, professor of English and Honors College first-year experience coordinator, said. “Our faculty-led program will emphasize the best teaching practices for closing equity gaps, increasing students’ sense of belonging and improving student success, and it will guarantee that more undergraduates will take courses with expert tenure-track and tenured faculty starting in the first semester that they enroll at NKU.” 

Becoming a STAR at Northern Kentucky University and Beyond is a faculty-led initiative to energize the humanities and demonstrate their relevance to all undergraduates, but especially those who do not pursue degrees in the humanities. To this end, the program vision is to create a high-impact, coherent, intellectually challenging and inspiring general education experience that particularly targets students interested in STEM-H and business career paths. If successful, the program will foster a culture of respect, inquiry, debate, participatory citizenship and thoughtful reflection, which will begin in the general education classroom and extend to the NKU campus, the surrounding community and the region. 

“We are especially excited to showcase how a strong foundation in the humanities can enhance creative problem-solving, communication skills and intercultural competence for students in pre-professional major programs of study,” Emily Detmer-Goebel, director of general education, said. “We look forward to creating something that benefits students, local communities and employers in the region.” 

Drawing from a core list of transformative texts, STAR courses in both the gateway and the pathway will create a common intellectual experience for students and encourage them to: 

  • Study transformative texts to discover lives and places outside their own experience.
  • Think deeply and critically about their own identities in relation to others, a task enabled by the transformative texts that they study.
  • Act responsibly in the communities of which they are a part, using classroom learning to inform non-academic endeavors.
  • Reflect on those actions as part of a broader intellectual and social project of humanistic inquiry, which ties the pressing concerns of our current moment to a living past embodied by enduring works of literature, history and philosophy. 

Within these four pillars, the program emphasizes literacy, written communication and oral communication as foundational skills for 21st century learners and leaders. It harnesses the humanities to introduce concepts, approaches and skills that are essential for both participatory citizenship and workplace success. 

Learn more about general education at NKU on the website.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit