Community colleges are performing an increasingly vital role as students' first steps toward an education and a career in the humanities. In fact, according to a Humanities Indicators study, "the share of associate's degrees earned in a humanities discipline or requiring a substantial amount of humanities coursework . . . increased in 2012 and 2013" and that "the humanities' share of all associate degrees was almost four times as large as the field's share of all bachelor's degrees" (8).
With this in mind, The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP, generously funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to strengthen the path of humanities students at El Paso Community College (EPCC) with increased academic, professional, and research options as they transition to the four-year humanities path at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
To accomplish this, The Collaborative has established a multi-faceted program of student and faculty mentoring in humanities research and teaching at both institutions, raising the profile of the humanities in the community and enriching the community as a whole. The main components of The Collaborative are:
Opening humanities research and career opportunities for community college students relies on the successful "cross-pollination" of community college and university students and faculty, building on one another's skills and experiences.
For humanities students preparing for a career as professors, The Collaborative recognizes the need to develop practical skills for teaching humanities at the community college level. In this component of the Collaborative, EPCC faculty fellows mentor UTEP graduate students interested in teaching humanities-related courses at a community college level.
Finally, UTEP faculty and graduate fellows mentor UTEP and EPCC students in research methods and in developing public humanities programming while also helping facilitate the transfer of humanities students from the community college to the university level, offering guidance and advice as to potential academic and career options.