$1.5 million award from the Endeavor Foundation to support Bringing Theory to Practice’s new Paradigm Project

Bringing Theory to Practice, which is headquartered at Elon, will be working toward new models of education and systemic changes that impact how students learn and engage.

Bringing Theory to Practice (BT2P) is launching the Paradigm Project, a multi-year initiative for systemic change in undergraduate education supported by a new grant of $1.5 million from the Endeavor Foundation.

“The Paradigm Project has big goals: to help develop new models of holistic, inclusive, engaged education and to catalyze systemic change that realizes them for all students,” said BT2P Director David Scobey. “We have long worked with other educational change-makers to advance improvements in areas like student well-being, engaged learning, and the civic responsibilities of universities, but these have too often remained siloed.

“In a time of turmoil across higher ed, it’s urgent to move from piecemeal innovation to systemic transformation—and to bring together a broad coalition of faculty, staff, students, alums, and leaders in and out of the academy to make it happen,” Scobey said.

The launch phase of the Paradigm Project supported by this new grant will extend through May 2025 and Elon will continue to serve as the host and home of Bringing Theory to Practice.

Founded in 2003, BT2P is a national initiative headquartered at Elon that is dedicated to holistic, inclusive, engaged learning for all students and the need to transform higher education to provide it to all students. Elon was named the hosting partner of Bringing Theory to Practice in June 2020, and the partnership has created new opportunities for the university community to help shape innovative and creative concepts in higher education.

“I applaud both BT2P and the Endeavor Foundation for this important, ambitious initiative,” said Provost Aswani Volety, a member of the BT2P Advisory Board.  “Elon is honored to be part of a national effort that aligns with its values and advances an inclusive and engaged approach to learning for all students.”

The Paradigm Project will braid together three efforts:

  • Advancing integrative and inclusive design that turns the siloes and partial innovations of the typical undergraduate experience into models of a new whole, greater than the sum of its parts, that equitably welcomes and nurtures all students.
  • Building a movement that includes educators, students, alums, organizational allies, and others committed to such change and advocates with decision-makers who have the power to realize or thwart it.
  • Changing the dominant public narrative about the mission and future of higher education to focus not only on degree completion and economic returns, but also on the personal, social, and civic purposes of college.

Project activities will include field scans of current promising innovations, design labs that distill new holistic models of the college experience, and books and media that distill, debate, and disseminate the ideas and values of the project. This overview offers a fuller summary of the project’s goals, strategy, and activities.

The initial years of the project are made possible by the generous support of the Endeavor Foundation, including the new $1.5 million award. Founded in 1952 by Christian A. Johnson, The Endeavor Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to improving the world for the benefit of all living beings, in the context of supportive societies in which all can thrive, a healthy climate, and a sustainable planet.

“The Endeavor Foundation is delighted to support the launch of the Paradigm Project, with its ambitious aim of bringing holistic and systemic change to undergraduate higher education in the United States,” Endeavor Foundation President Julie Kidd said. “While so much of the national focus is on what is wrong with higher education, this project seeks to harness what higher education is doing right, connecting and integrating its strongest elements and thereby reanimating its core purposes.”

Kidd said that the effort resonates strongly with the foundation’s values and she can think of no one better suited to undertake it than Bringing Theory to Practice. “Through its many projects and initiatives, BT2P has always been unafraid to take on big questions, to insist that academic institutions serve the social good, and to draw on their intellectual and imaginative resources to do so,” she said.