We are seeking a planning grant to develop a detailed multi-year proposal for a project that would ambitiously aim (1) to define the place of the virtues in the mission of a comprehensive public university; (2) to deploy sustainable and replicable programs which cultivate a specified set of virtues in students, including specific intellectual virtues, civic virtues, and virtues of self-regulation; and (3) to develop a rigorous social-science platform to measure the impact of virtue education on behaviors and outcomes such as student performance, retention, and engagement.
During the planning year, the project team at the University of Oklahoma will hold workshops and public events bringing specialists in virtue theory, psychology and pedagogy to campus as consultants. The year will be spent crafting curricular and extra-curricular initiatives to cultivate specific virtues in the context of higher education. Three foci during the planning period will be defining the specific virtues we aim to cultivate, identifying the best practices in teaching the virtues, and identifying the most up-to-date methods of assessment of non-cognitive traits. The planning year will allow the project team to expand its already considerable circle of supporters on the campus, which includes administrators, faculty, and staff. The project team will also develop a broad media plan to accompany the full project, to maximize its impact locally and nationally. The outcome of the planning grant will be a detailed proposal for the largest-scale character education program in U.S. higher education. It will be the first such program to use both a sophisticated articulation of virtue theory to pursue the cultivation of specific virtues and the best social science research to measure the impact of specific practices and programs. The aim is to promote the flourishing of OU students, in a measurable fashion, through a program that can be sustained and replicated by other universities.