Posted by William Nunnelley on 2001-07-16

Samford University has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support a joint Problem-Based Learning (PBL) project with the University of Maastricht (Netherlands).

The grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) is designed to support cooperative work between U.S. and European Community schools. Awarded to Samford's Howard College of Arts and Sciences, the grant will enable faculty at the two schools to develop 16 interdisciplinary PBL problems.

Project director is Dr. David W. Chapman, Samford arts and sciences dean.

Sample problem topics from the first year include "Forms of Democracy," "Ethical Dilemmas," "Problems of Political Integration," "The Development of Modern Rationality and Its Critique" and "Mechanisms of Inclusion and Exclusion in the Sciences and Arts."

In the second year, the initial themes will be pursued and new topics added in "Mass Media and Culture" and "Visual Culture."

The project is an outgrowth of Samford's work in PBL funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1998 Samford received a $1 million grant from Pew to explore the uses of PBL in undergraduate education. A follow-up grant of $750,000 in 1999 was awarded to support documentation and review of teaching using PBL course portfolios.

As part of the original Pew grant, five Samford faculty visited Maastricht in 1999 and three Maastricht faculty led a workshop at Samford later the same year. Wim Gijselaers of Maastricht was a keynote speaker at an international PBL conference hosted by Samford in the fall of 2000.

"Our work with Maastricht has been of great benefit to both schools," said Chapman. "Maastricht has been teaching PBL classes for a much longer period of time, but we feel we bring some strengths in mediated instruction and in program assessment."

Maastricht, located in the southern Netherlands, enrolls 11,000 students.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.