The Futures Initiative Peer Mentors program is a multi-layered program that reconnects liberal arts teaching and learning with the mission of public higher education and the needs of what has been called the “new majority” of undergraduate college students, while also supporting graduate students’ development as both teachers and learners. It is the cornerstone of Liberal Arts for the New Majority, a Futures Initiative program generously funded by the Teagle Foundation.
Through advising, skilled peer mentoring, and a conceptual reframing of basic education, it will help students link skills, purposes, mission, and design of general education in the arts, humanities, social sciences, math, and basic sciences, showing how these are essential to navigating the complexities of the real world.
Through this and other elements of the Futures Initiative's work, graduate students learn to translate their specialized doctoral research for foundational, introductory courses that become a toolkit to lifelong success for undergraduate students. In turn, these undergraduate students become peer mentors and leaders who then help other students make intellectual and practical pathways through foundational courses (where the dropout rate is highest). The project helps graduate students understand their essential role as teachers of introductory courses and trains successful undergraduates to be peer mentors. In the process, all learn to be leaders.