Misericordia University was recently awarded two Pennsylvania Grants for Open and Affordable Learning (PA Goal Grant) with funding provided by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), and the state Department of Education (PDE), Office of Commonwealth Libraries (OCL). The funding will support pedagogy in the College of Arts and Sciences, in the Department of History and Government, and in the Physics Department. For more information on these grants managed by PALCI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization visit The PA Department of Education, GEER Funding.
Dr. Jennifer Black, Associate Professor of History; Dr. Allan Austin, Professor of History; and Mary Kay Kimelewski, Adjunct Professor of History and High School History Teacher/Department Chair, West Side Career and Technology Center received funding that will allow several US History Survey Courses offered at the university to be redesigned to provide more accessibility for students through zero-cost textbooks and additional resources. The team will collaborate to replace current textbooks with Open Educational Resources (OER), providing a savings to students. Versions of the redesigned courses will be offered at both Misericordia University and West Side Career and Technology Center.
As Dr. Black explained, “the primary goal of the grant is to save students money.” “Our university was founded to provide an education to the daughters of the coal miners,” she continued, noting that “in redesigning the courses and implementing them at Misericordia, as well as the local vocational technology school in Pringle, students in the region will save hundreds of dollars per year.” Black further explained, “We project an approximate savings of about $90,000 for all students who might be served by these measures over the next five years. This type of work aligns perfectly with our institution’s history and mission to make education more accessible.” A secondary goal of the grant administrators is to amplify underrepresented voices in American history. “We are well-situated to meet this goal, especially given Dr. Austin’s expertise in immigration history,” Dr. Black noted. The intention is not only to help alleviate the costs of higher education, but to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the course content.
In addition to grant funding awarded to Dr. Black and her colleagues, Dr. Jeffrey Stephens, Associate Professor of Physics, was also awarded a PA GOAL Grant for his Introduction to Physics Science course at Misericordia University. This course is part of the core curriculum aimed at health science students and an integral part of the first-year programming for the Speech-Language Pathology majors. The goal of the grant is to transition the Introduction to Physics Science course to an Open Education Resource (OER) textbook. This shift to a zero-cost book is expected to save the students around $100 each, or $4,000 per semester. The book will most likely be made available in a pdf format, allowing students to access their textbook from nearly any device and location.
“It is through grant funds such as these two PA Goal Grants that our faculty can design programing and teaching materials for our students to make education more affordable and accessible. At Misericordia, the student is at the center of all that we do, and it is through grants and the creative work of our faculty that we can develop new ways to assist students,” said Dr. Heidi Manning, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
To learn more about all of Misericordia’s academic programming visit misericordia.edu/academics.