College Awarded Council of Independent Colleges Grant to Promote Student Research
Campus News

Franklin College is among 25 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) member institutions selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Humanities Research for the Public Good, an initiative to promote student research at private colleges and universities, address issues of public significance, and showcase the rich archival, library and museum collections held by participating institutions. Participants were selected through a highly competitive application process, with nearly four applications for every available spot in the program. Each college will partner with a community-based organization to engage members of the public on a topic of local importance.

Franklin College’s winning submission, The Primary Pursuit, furthers the college’s curricular aims by engaging students in research that directly benefits local and statewide partners, such as the Johnson County Museum of History, the Indiana Historical Society and state-wide K-12 school districts. Undergraduate students will complete archival research in the Honorable Roger Douglas Branigin Archives in the Franklin College B.F. Hamilton Library to unearth materials for use in Indiana’s K-12 classrooms. Using these materials, students will construct lesson plans, compile associated educational resources and produce assessments for Indiana K-12 teachers instructing students in U.S. history and civics education.

Branigin was the 42nd Governor of Indiana, a 1923 alumnus of Franklin College and an honorary degree recipient in 1956.  He donated his papers to his alma mater, distinguishing his papers as the only governor’s papers not housed at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration. It is the goal of the project to increase awareness of the collection, to provide access to educational resources and primary sources from the collection to K-12 educators and to allow community partners to promote Johnson County history.

“This opportunity will provide extraordinary engaged learning experiences for our history students that will have tangible, lasting results for the local and state community,” said Meredith Clark-Wiltz, associate professor and Branigin Chair in History. “It’s the type of meaningful public history scholarship that our program allows every major to have the opportunity to participate in.”

When announcing the initiative, CIC President Richard Ekman stated, “Independent colleges are stronger when they share their resources with their communities—and so are their communities. Those resources often include significant archival or library collections that can illuminate issues of real public importance. The institutions selected for the initiative—including Franklin College—will have much to share with their communities.”

This initiative is directed by Anne M. Valk, associate director for public humanities and lecturer in history at Williams College. After reviewing applications for the initiative, Valk remarked, “I was impressed by the good work that faculty and staff members are already doing to support community engagement and humanities research. So many independent colleges are committed to public-facing scholarship and exploring the hidden potential of their collections.” 

CIC will host an opening workshop for participants in Washington, DC, on June 26–28, 2019. Franklin College will be represented by a team consisting of Clark-Wiltz; Jessica Mahoney, assistant director and information literacy librarian; and Betsy Schmidt, director of development services. Participants will review successful public humanities initiatives and discuss best practices in project management, working with community partners, developing humanities programs for public audiences, and project evaluation. The keynote speaker at the workshop will be award-winning historian Edward Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus of the University of Richmond. A closing workshop in spring 2020 will include students and highlight the results of the funded projects.

Humanities Research for the Public Good is generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. A second cohort of colleges and universities will be selected in 2020. For more information, visit


Alaska Pacific University (AK), Augustana University (SD), Berry College (GA), Bethany College (KS), Butler University (IN), Champlain College (VT), Connecticut College, Daemen College (NY), Fisk University (TN), Franklin College (IN), Gustavus Adolphus College (MN),

Hollins University (VA), Lewis & Clark College (OR), Mars Hill University (NC), Messiah College (PA), Oberlin College (OH), Reinhardt University (GA), Rust College (MS), Saint Mary’s College (IN), Simmons University (MA), St. Mary’s University (TX), Stevenson University (MD), University of Denver (CO), University of Findlay (OH) and Wofford College (SC).

For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Communications at (317) 738-8185.

POSTED Apr 29, 2019